Virtual Mirror Makes Clothes Shopping Fun!

Shopping for clothes should be a pleasurable experience but too often turns into a time-wasting chore.

Trying on shirts, dresses and other garments in a cramped cubicle isn’t most people’s idea of fun – this style that style, this colour that colour, this pattern that pattern – how to choose? Instead of leaving the store looking good and feeling confident, the shopper can end up frustrated with nothing to show for hours of effort.

Wouldn’t it be great if, at the touch of a button, you could instantly visualise yourself in the latest fashions, try on scores of different styles in a few minutes, all at the touch of a button? Wouldn’t it be even better if you could do this not only in the shop but also in the comfort of your own home?

Well, now it’s possible, with Virtual Mirror.

Developed by leading technology researchers in Berlin, the new system promises to transform the shopping excursion into a rewarding social event. Using Virtual Mirror’s simple graphic controls shoppers can interactively select from a ‘digital catalogue’ of clothing or footwear to instantly see themselves in any of a range of different styles, colours and patterns.

Friends and family too can take turns trying on the latest garments, exchanging fashion tips and opinions. Virtual Mirror makes clothes shopping fun!

The system deploys state of the art research software together with inexpensive, off-the-shelf hardware components. The research team is now seeking commercial partners to develop it into a mass product for delivery to retail venues across Europe and beyond.

If you’re a clothes retailer or technology developer and would like to know more about Virtual Mirror, please contact George Whale of EMC2.

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EXPERIMEDIA Open Call

Under an open call launched this week, EXPERIMEDIA is making available over €500k to fund new experiments in the area of Future Media Internet (FMI).

Whether you're a service provider, technology/ application developer, broadcaster, content provider, network provider or researcher EXPERIMEDIA are looking for novel FMI experiments that help to understand and deliver new forms of social interaction and experience to communities online and in the real world.

The emphasis is on technology R&D for large-scale live events linking people to each other and to locations in ways that capture popular imagination.

Project participants will gain access to real-world Testbed Ecosystems at Schladming Ski Resort, the Multi-Sport High Performance Centre of Catalonia and the Foundation for the Hellenic World.

The Schladming testbed venue

EXPERIMEDIA seek experiments in the areas of:

● personalised entertainment supporting interaction, non-linear storytelling and immersive experiences;

● social communities using 3D environments to communicate and interact;

● capture and reproduction of the real world in 3D;

● perceptual congruity between real and virtual worlds.

All experiments must deliver significant impact to users and businesses within the testbed venues.

EXPERIMEDIA will be running a series of teleconferences on 4th July to provide information about the facilities and venues. In addition to the technical team, key people from each venue will be available to answer questions about the live events being targeted. Email info@experimedia.eu to register.

The open call closes on Wednesday 1st August 2012. For further details, visit the EXPERIMEDIA website. (See also the EXPERIMEDIA Project Overview (65)).

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EMC2 First Newsletter – download now!

This week sees publication of the very first EMC2 Newsletter, featuring news and events of importance to research and industry practitioners in 3D media/ communications and related fields.

Topics in this newsletter:

- Introducing EMC2

- Join the Industry-Research Network!

- Berlin international workshop: "The Future of 3D Media"

- EMC2 at WIAMIS 2012

- EMC2 in the media

- Take part in our survey on technology entrepreneurship!

- Calendar of upcoming events.

Download the newsletter now - it's free!

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From Research to Entrepreneurship: A New Framework

By Dr Kevin Byron, Queen Mary, University of London

The entrepreneurial expert Peter Drucker once said “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity”. This could equally describe a researcher, with the only difference being in the nature of the opportunity and the mechanisms of exploitation. In the case of the entrepreneur this would lead to the creation of a new business and for the researcher, new discoveries leading to progress through publications etc.

It could be argued therefore that some of the skills of the entrepreneur overlap with those of the researcher. The challenges then for developing a more entrepreneurial mindset with researchers lie first in understanding these overlaps and then practice of the developmental and technical skills that could lead to the redirection of the mechanisms of exploitation of research.

I believe that technology PhDs incorporating entrepreneurship training should first explore how entrepreneurship and research relate to each other. The relationship can be illustrated through the application of ‘The Enquiry Wheel’ (Harwood, W. S., et al., 2004) - a tool that describes the various stages of progression in scientific research - and how this maps on to ‘The Enterprise Cycle’ (Byron, K. C., 2010) - a tool developed at Queen Mary, University of London that shows the stages of development of a new enterprise.

The Enquiry Wheel and The Enterprise Cycle: the similarities between research and enterprise development (click on images to enlarge).

Special attention should be given to the notion that research ideas that have commercial potential are not necessarily in the main line of sight of the research being undertaken. This may mean for example that a perhaps smaller problem, solved as part of a larger research endeavour, could have greater potential for commercial exploitation.

This requires the researcher to see a broader horizon not only in terms of their research field, but how it interfaces - no matter how distantly or obliquely - with commercial markets. Here a more flexible, creative approach to research and its application is needed. This needs to be informed by an awareness of markets, trends in markets and a sensitivity to gaps in markets which will be included in the training. An essential skill in this phase of the training will focus on creativity in research, and how that becomes innovation in the marketplace. Underpinning this are the processes of knowledge exchange and an awareness of the appropriate ‘levels of technology readiness’ concepts.

The second phase of the skills training should focus more on the conventional aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset. Whilst these bear some resemblance to some of the transferable, researcher skills, the context and emphases are quite different. These include influence and negotiation, marketing, pitching and presenting, and general business awareness skills. In common with the creative skills described earlier, the training will have an emphasis on learning in action and with relevance to each individual’s unique research and entrepreneurial challenges. Finally some of the more essential information-heavy training such as IPR will be presented in novel ways to enable the attendees to put in practice some of the knowledge acquired.

References

Byron. K. C. “The Enterprise Cycle”, International Entrepreneurship Educators’ Conference, (IEEC’10), Cardiff, 2010.

Harwood, W.S., Reiff, R., & Phillipson, T. Voices from the frontline: Scientists’ conceptions of scientific inquiry. J. Chem Edu, 2004.

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Dr Kevin Byron is Enterprise Education Coordinator at The Learning Institute, Queen Mary, University of London.

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3D Virtual Collaboration With T(ether)

From MIT Tangible Media Group:

"T(ether) is a novel spatially aware display that supports intuitive interaction with volumetric data. The display acts as a window affording users a perspective view of three-dimensional data through tracking of head position and orientation. T(ether) creates a 1:1 mapping between real and virtual coordinate space allowing immersive exploration of the joint domain. Our system creates a shared workspace in which co-located or remote users can collaborate in both the real and virtual worlds. The system allows input through capacitive touch on the display and a motion-tracked glove. When placed behind the display, the user’s hand extends into the virtual world, enabling the user to interact with objects directly."

More information at:
tangible.media.mit.edu/project/tether
kiwi.media.mit.edu/tether

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New Portable Device for Accurate Hand and Finger Tracking

If The Leap hand-tracking device lives up to the claims of its makers, this little rectangular block will follow individual finger movements, distinguish thumbs from fingers and identify hand-held objects such as pencils -- all with sub-millimetre precision.

Similar to the Microsoft Kinect, but reportedly much more accurate, The Leap offers the capacity to control not only games, but also 3D modelling, medical, art or engineering applications, using natural hand gestures. With the driver software installed and the device plugged in, it can be placed so as to define an interaction space of 8 cubic metres in front of the computer screen.

Users can define their own custom gestures, and for programmers there’s a free SDK (software development kit) enabling development of new uses for the technology. (It says on the website that qualified developers who register receive a free Leap device with the SDK.)

The company is currently working with industry partners in a drive to embed the technology in tablets, smart phones, laptops and game systems.

It's difficult to tell from a video just how useable and useful a gadget this is, so any readers who have used The Leap, or know something about the underlying technology (the website says nothing), or can compare this device with Microsoft's Kinect 2 motion sensor, please contact us.

More information at www.leapmotion.com.

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Future AR: Information Heaven or Advertising Hell?

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to the blending of digital media with real-world perception such that our experience or understanding of the world is variously enhanced or augmented. Typically, AR applications are delivered via smartphones or special viewing devices such as Google’s AR glasses (due to be released later this year).

Blending of digital and physical worlds is achieved via computer vision technology that extracts geometry from real-world scenes, and computer graphics software that adapts still or moving imagery to the extracted geometry, combining it with the user’s view.

The Star Walk AR astronomy app superimposes words and pictures on real views of the sky.

Nokia Live View is an AR browser that connects digital and physical worlds by overlaying points of interest (from a maps database) on a live camera view. As the view changes, so new place labels appear.

AR has found all sorts of useful, even life-saving, applications in medicine, industrial design, the military and other specialised fields; now the commercial, mass market potential of the technology is being vigorously explored and developed. One sector already well established is interactive print, where 3D digital pictures and animations integrated with books and magazines greatly extend the scope of conventional print:

The video below from New Scientist simulates how the world could look in a commercially augmented future, and it’s not pretty. Virtual labels swarm over real-world objects -- supposedly guiding the user’s actions -- whilst garish virtual adverts jostle for space on every visible surface.

In film and television the boundary between real and synthetic has already become so blurred that few can reliably tell the difference -- which is great for lovers of sci-fi fantasy, but not so great for lovers of documentary truth.

BBC nature documentarist Sir David Attenborough warned of the problem last year: “It’s not too difficult to use a computer to make a dead fish waggle its ears", he said, "... if you wanted to confuse the audience, you’ve got more ways than ever before.”

As in film and TV, the trend in AR apps is towards ever greater realism, and inevitably the clunky models of the past will be replaced by synthetic people, places, plants and animals so detailed, lifelike and reactive that we will easily mistake them for the real thing.

Compounding this confusion of real and unreal is the potential for malicious uses of the technology, as anticipated by New Scientist:

Some have already begun to use smartphone apps to tag "digital graffiti" onto the physical world… Some of these offerings are useful; others are aesthetic, trivial or personal. Many are angry, subversive or offensive. In other words, all the virtues and vices of the social web are being daubed onto the physical world, with interesting and challenging consequences...

Equally, an extremist could post slogans on a graveyard or government building, or a protester might decide to reveal the location of an animal-testing lab. Individuals are not immune – people could be digitally tagged without their knowledge. The tag could be a compliment. Equally possibly it could be an insult or embarrassing photo. Electing not to wear the glasses will be as effective as closing your eyes and wishing it would go away.

Negotiating our way through the rights and wrongs of this while protecting free speech, privacy and reputation will be tortuous.

Clearly, Augmented Reality can aid and inform whilst transforming daily experience. But the question is whether we want technology increasingly mediating our perceptions of the city, nature and the people we meet. Is there not a risk that we might lose the capacity to form our own judgements, or to perceive and appreciate the world as it is?

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EMC2 Special Panel Session at WIAMIS 2012

As one of the sponsors of WIAMIS 2012 (13th International Workshop on Image Analysis for Multimedia Interactive Services, 23rd-25th May 2012) at Dublin City University EMC2 organised a special panel session on the theme, "What 3D Industry Needs from Research". The aim of the session was to consider and discuss some of the commercial needs and opportunities in the 3D media/ communication field, and the research challenges that must be overcome to enable new market opportunities to be exploited. A full report on the special panel session can be found here.

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