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Augmented Reality Museum Tour for iOS iPad Review

26/04/2012 Family Eclectic Gamer Review
Guest author: Promotional Feature
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Augmented Reality Museum Tour for iOS iPad

Augmented Reality Museum Tour for iOS




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I often take my family on a diversion from videogames. Where better than London's Science Museum now it has it's very own augmented reality guide on the iPad?

Next time you walk through the exhibition and see a child nodding to the assertions of some invisible friend, you needn't be too worried. The invisible friend is more than likely to be James May, co-presenter of BBC's Top Gear.

And if that doesn't put your mind at ease, the reason you can't see him is because this version of the TV star exists in an app specifically designed for iPads (including the new iPad) and iPhones, which affords visitors the experience of having their own celebrity museum guide.

Unlike a video or television broadcast, where the camera operator or director decides what you see, augmented reality puts you in the director's chair: you can walk around the image and watch from any angle you choose.

Nowadays, whether you've got Apple's new iPad or iPad2, or even a mobile phone, you can see reality overlaid with additional information that speaks to you, such as My May, our virtual museum guide.

Even the youngsters could manage it. Just point your device towards a special plinth in front of certain exhibits at the Science Museum and you'll see what your phone's camera sees, overlaid with James May giving a short explanation of the display.

It's a far cry from being told to 'turn left into a large room and press pause' on a clunky headset in Hampton Court Palace.

With such technology you'll never be lectured on the trappings of a steam engine while standing next to the Apollo lander, for instance.

It's all a little technical for my gaming brain, but I'm told it works because the people behind the app at Digicave spent the day with James May and 36 cameras to snap 3D photos of the presenter.

The images are taken using similar technology to that used in the Matrix films, where a camera moves in virtual space around a still subject. The inventor of the original 'time-slice' photography which led to the modern movie effect, Tim MacMillian, was on board to make sure the photography ran smoothly.

Using information captured in an instant from the numerous cameras, the team use Photo Metrics to read distance and depth information, so they can capture the form as well as the image of their subject.

Apparently it takes a bit of trigonometry and some clever algorithms to build up a 3D model of these images -- now, who said maths wasn't useful? The end result is one of the most engaging ways to find out about a museum that I've seen in recent years.

Once they have their 3D model, it's then rigged with an electronic skeleton, ready to be manipulated by animators and brought back to life. At over a day for each minute of animation, it can be a painstaking process.

More than all this technical jigger pokery though, it's the result that counts -- a highly detailed 3D model of James May which you can carry in your pocket -- is an impressive one.

James May Science Stories is available from 25 April on the App Store.

Guest review by Promotional Feature

You can support Clare by buying Augmented Reality Museum Tour for iOS

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Promotional Feature wrote this Eclectic Gamer article under the watchful eye of Clare Sharpe.

"I think it's probably true that most of us have grown up with computer games - I have a dark and distant memory of some sort of black box with two controllers that allowed us to play an extremely primitive and pixelated game of tennis."

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