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SXSW Interactive 2014

Avatars Meet People: Mixed Reality at Planet Scale

When walking in StreetView we almost have the feeling of being in the street. Imagine then to be able to interact with people physically in the street. People wearing augmented reality glasses would see the avatars evolving in StreetView.

The exponential growth of geolocated sensors has given birth to mirror worlds. The typical example is StreetView, deploying everywhere cars full of sensors. More, there are billions of smartphones, drones, google glasses constantly uploading geolocated data. All this leads to a frequently updated mirror world, covering the whole planet. Also, techniques to geolocate smartphones are now accurate enough to place the users inside the mirror world.

Today's virtual worlds can barely reach thousands of simultaneously connected users. But recent advances in distributed computing remove the scalability limits.

As all these elements are now in place, this year could see the emergence of a social or gaming platform using mixed reality on a large scale.

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  1. How can all perceive the same augmented reality? Augmented reality tools make virtual objects visible in the real world by revealing a virtual scene relatively to identified markers. To have all participants perceive the same virtual elements, we need a common source. If the elements are static, a spatial database is used. For dynamic elements, such as avatars, more complex tools are needed. During the presentation participants with Android devices will be able to see the virtual attendees.
  2. How to insert avatars into a mirror world? Despite its many users, Google StreetView is an empty virtual world. Inserting users’ avatars at their viewing location will populate it. As WebGL is now widely available, adding avatars through web browsers is just one click away. Try this now and insert your avatar in StreetView using our experimental web application hybridearth.net. During the presentation you will be able to send your avatar to Austin and listen to our speech.
  3. How to make a collaborative "streetview" with smartphones? Google Street View is a set of precisely geolocated spherical panoramas. The Open Street Maps initiative has shown that users can build accurate maps on a large scale. As today’s smartphones can take spherical pictures on the go, is it time to launch an initiative for an open streetview? Prior to our presentation we will prepare a navigable imagery of the SXSW site.
  4. How to geolocate a smartphone with a precision in centimeters?
  5. How to scale a virtual world? Imagine a virtual world as vast as planet Earth. Imagine a virtual world with 7 billion inhabitants. This is orders of magnitude bigger than any existing virtual world. However we have Google Earth, we have Facebook. Is it possible to scale to that level in a cost effective way? Recent advances in distributed computing research support this claim.



Raluca Diaconu, PhD Student, Université Pierre et Marie Curie

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: WTF and Beyond
  • Level: Intermediate
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