A few months ago, I saw something that may well change the face of augmented reality and digital interaction with the real world as we know it. A lot of people are saying this, I know, but Sixth Sense by Pranav Mistry is definitely one of the most creative paradigm shifts I have seen in the field of computing.
Wearable computing has been around for a while now. But this device takes it to a completely new level. The basic idea is that it is a small…thing…you wear around your neck, like a super pendant. It contains a picoprojector and a webcam and a couple of other devices. It basically reads four small colored markers placed on your fingers and the software detects what they are doing at any given time, projects an image on to any surface you’re standing in front of, and interacts with the way your hands move. What this results in is sheer magic. Computing taken to the real world and then some. Or as the inventor himself says, imagination is the only limit to what can be done with this device, which costs about fifteen thousand rupees or so and can be built out of existing mobile components.
Pranav’s had fun with this, as this video shows. I’m sure pretty much anyone presented with this kind of technology would find unique ways to use it. Check out the videos on his site, which also has all his projects (Sixth sense has its own website btw,) and you’ll be as convinced as I am that the man is fully on to something. Bringing the digital into the real.
What interests me more is the software and the thinking behind the almost-intuitive recognition the camera instantly makes with the scene (both real and projected) in front of it. Face, gesture, surface and image/visual recognition. Is this for real? Apparently so.
And the fact that the man has engendered a paradigm shift and thrown it open to the public. As in, he’s made it and wants you to see what you can do with it. While you’re at it, please check out some of his other projects as well. We’re on the drawing board already with what impact this could have on our virtual worlds and AR experiences. And thanking him for the inspiration and fun this causes.