Air Guitar dissolving

A new air guitar experience is on the road. It started in Italy already to promote the new Disney sitcom I’m In The Band. It apparently is just another use of AR for marketing, but I have to say the idea of visualizing an air guitar with AR is pretty funny.

Pietro Sansone from the producing team says:

We had the idea of using the augmented reality software when we were briefed by Disney Television Italia to find a concept for a street communication activity to promote the new I’m In The Band series. I’m In The Band is a comedy that tells about a kid who makes his dream come true when he starts playing as a guitarist for a hard rock (pop metal, as Disney calls it) band.

Lester from AugmentedPlanet already wrote on it before, so I’d like to quote him quickly:

it looks like Disney are about to launch an augmented reality game called Concert Mayhem which is based around characters from the new I’m In The Band sitcom. The original concept for the game was developed by Seac02 and used in Italy as a marketing tool to launch the sitcom. The concept was users stand in front of a green screen, air guitar and they appear in the video. The game however has been adapted for online so shortly you’ll be able to give it a go.

It obviously works fine as some youtube videos demonstrate. But my point being is another one, we get illustrated below:

First conclusion is, that not always visual based tracking is the best choice. Or to be more precise: the concept of your product must match the current technology state of the art. Here they use feature tracking (for the T-Shirt) to augmented the guitar. Only problem is that while playing an air guitar you probably cover up your body quite frequently. This leads to a broken augmentation and to visual drawbacks. I am currently prototyping using depth cameras with AR, but I’m eagerly waiting for an easy toolkit to integrate depth sensing cameras into the AR toolkits. Thus we will be able to use the 3D for a better tracking (yeah, yeah, still waiting for Project Natal) and have the correct occlusion. You definitely want to see your picking hand in front of the strings and the guitar’s body!

The second point we see illustrated (the above video only being an arbitrary example of AR interaction) yields in my question: is AR too early for this kid and would he rather have an inflatable guitar to play with? Or is he already so much used to technology and 3D effects in his telly, that he just cares more about a paper snippet in his finger than about the cool Augmentation? The adults seem to be having a hard time, convincing him. Maybe it was just bed time. :-)

I hope that with an easier way of using this technology for artists and designers we can gain better demos and experiences, that are even more fun. Today AR is still limiting the interaction to the least common denominator: moving around an object by moving the marker. Wave or cover up a marker to get some magical interaction (sometimes you are not really sure if you really triggered it or it just happened). For a kids demo it might be enough with a waving interaction, but I don’t want to see the gaming world step down to mediocrity only to support the latest hype. Project Natal’s demo game of this kind-a dodge ball game was great fun and the guitar demo as a one-time-attraction has its justification, but either we shrink our brains back to infantile times or we still grab another interaction device to get a deeper interactive experience. Or maybe we just need to come up with better ways of interaction. Depth-Cameras for gestures?

… this leaves us again with the typical VR dilemma: the human body’s interaction works mainly with haptics and grabbing. If we want to control real objects we need to use our hands and touch the object. (Leaving speech and mimic interaction out here, also the overhyped Theremin.) Even if we had Project Natal today, we would still have the problem of a real feedback. Only audio and visual feedback is just so limiting. We either need a big leap in VR/AR research or we just accept the Generation TV’s style of observing our acts on a screen…

Anyway, this was just a TGIF’s comment. So, enjoy your weekend. Maybe go into the woods for a change and carve a bow. :-) We’ll see you next week with more great Augmented Reality!!!

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