Cameron mentions BMW’s microsite for its Z4 sportscar as an example of this. He didn’t like the application, but he was impressed with the technology, hiring Julian Koskawitz – who worked on the BMW project – to create the backend for the Colors site.
Koskawitz built the AR part of the site in Flash, using the Flash port of the open-source ARToolkit (artoolkit.sourceforge.net). He rewrote parts of the Flash version for the particular demands of this project, especially the focus on video content rather than 3D models. He tweaked the program so that if you pause the video, it restarts from where you were, rather than at the beginning.
Koskawitz also scaled back the camera mapping system so that once it’s found the 3D barcode, it stops constantly looking for it. This is because once a reader places the magazine in front of the webcam, they generally hold it still. This frees up the computer’s chip to concentrate on playing back video at high quality.
Using Flash meant that the project could be created by interactive designers, rather than hardcore programmers. This sped up the development process.
“Most of my team of geeks are not that geeky that they could write the AR Toolkit,” explains Cameron. “That’s not what Fabrica’s about – we’re about taking stuff that’s been developed, modifying it, and seeing how far we can push it.”
Cameron feels that this is just the start of using 3D barcodes and augmented reality for Fabrica. “There are commercial opportunities here for print advertising,” he says. “Imagine you’re working for company and you’re showing a product on a page. You can have that page do all kinds of things if you bring it to a webcam. Maybe the model starts taking their clothes off and shows you their underwear.”
Cameron is coy about which brands Fabrica is working with on these projects, saying only that he is “working very actively on that at the moment for companies that are close to us.”
Project: Colors #76
Software: ARToolkit, Adobe Flash