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Entries in 3D (14)


Facial Recognition Could Catch Criminal Avatars

As anyone who has used the interwebs knows, one of the appeals of the Internet is anonymity. But one researcher is trying to ruin it for everyone (well, maybe just criminals) by actually fusing a person’s real biometrics with his or her 3D avatar.

Sound far-fetched? Well, it kinda is. But it’s a project that came about because of a rise in virtual crime—and an increased likelihood that it will be investigated. In fact, Japanese police have arrested virtual muggers, and the FBI has investigated Second Life casinos’ dealings.

Computer scientist Roman Yampolskiy is leading the charge against virtual crimes. Already, multinational defense firm Raytheon has a patent pending on fusing a person's real biometrics with their 3D avatar. That would let you know for sure who you are speaking to online.

Yampolskiy and co. at the Cyber-Security Lab at the University of Louisville are taking the idea even further: They’re developing the field of artificial biometrics, known as "artimetrics." Much like human biometrics, artimetrics could be referenced to “authenticate and identify non-biological agents such as avatars, physical robots or even chatbots.”

When virtual worlds run on peer-to-peer networks, Yampolskiy explains, there’s no central authority to enable police to investigate virtual crime. That’s where artimetrics come in, New Scientist explains:

Yampolskiy and colleagues have developed facial recognition techniques specifically tailored to avatars, since current algorithms only work on humans. "Not all avatars are human looking, and even with those that are humanoid there is a huge diversity of colour," Yampolskiy says, so his software uses those colors to improve avatar recognition.

The team also investigated matching a human face to an avatar generated from that face; previous studies show that avatars often resemble their owners. Combining their color-based technique with existing facial recognition software produced the best results, suggesting it might be possible to track someone between the physical and virtual worlds.

Next up, Yampolskiy wants to create recognition algorithms for robots as well. Since autonomous robots might one day become ubiquitous, he says, they’ll eventually require identification of their own, distinct from humans.


Amazing Hybrid UAV Wing Created Using 3D Printing, Printed Electronics

A joint development between 3D printer maker Stratasys and printed electronics system manufacturer Optomec has, amazingly, created a hybrid UAV wing. The two companies announced last week that they have successfully completed a joint development project to merge 3D printing and printed electronics to create what must be the world’s first fully printed hybrid structure.

Their first project: a “smart wing” for an unmanned aerial vehicle model. It's pretty sophisticated, though; it has functional electronics printed right on the wing. Stratasys and Optomec believe this has the potential to change product development in a range of industries, from medicine to automotive manufacturing.

Check out the video for more back-story.


The View From Above: In Hard Focus Round-up (September 8, 2011)

AHNE – Audio-Haptic Navigation Environment from Matti Niinimäki on Vimeo.

Kinect helps you make sweet music, well sounds anyway: We cover a lot of Kinect applications for vision, but let’s not forget the other senses that can be engaged with this technology. Researchers in Helsinki have created a method to make sounds within a 3D space utilizing a Kinect sensor. Called Audio-Haptic Navigation Environment (AHNE), the system designates sounds, tone and volume based on one or more individuals’ positions in space. Not exactly symphony quality yet, but worth checking out. See video above via Engadget.

Photo compression technology allows for efficient photo storage: TechCrunch reports on a new startup, JPEGmini, which is pioneering a method for compressing JPEG photos for quicker sharing and more efficient storage. The technology, which can reduce overall file size by up to 5 times, imitates the way we analyze images in order to compress select portions of a photo that don’t contain “visible artifacts.” While professional photographers may not find this technology any better or cost effective than using RAW files and programs like Adobe Photoshop, there are many everyday uses where this method of compressing files could come in handy, especially in small devices like smartphones and cameras. 

Mobli takes photo filters and sharing to the next level: Mobli, a platform that allows users to “see the world through other people’s eyes” via a shared photos and video platform, is pushing ahead of competitors like Color with some interesting updates. Mashable reports that the new version, available now on Android and BlackBerry in addition to its original iPhone app, grants users a portal to take, share and view photos and video, which they can then tag or create filters for based on location-based data (such as check-ins at a concert or baseball game). What’s really interesting is the CEO’s vision behind the app: to create a visual diary experience through the lens of a smartphone… perhaps this vision seems way cooler when Paris Hilton is on-board.


The View From Above: In Hard Focus Round-up (August 30, 2011)

Mediating Mediums - The Digital 3d - [Part 3] from Greg Tran on Vimeo.

AR the next step for architecture: A graduate student at Harvard University utilizes Augmented Reality concepts in an architecture project called "Meditating Mediums," which begs the question - why didn't we think of this application before? As the student, Greg Tran, explains, "people looked at painting, walked around sculpture and walked through architecture," and thus the modern digital equivalent would translate to 3D AR and other technologies that have the ability to play with form, space and function all on one plane. See a video of this project above, via The Next Web.

AR applications beyond fun and games: We’ve covered a lot of Augmented Reality applications here on InHardFocus, many of them focused on entertaining or informing the average smartphone user. However, PBS tackles AR’s potential uses beyond consumer engagement, introducing some current and potential applications that could benefit a variety of industries. These applications include tracking food products in assembly lines and processing plants, creating a broad range of educational supplements to real world objects and textbooks, and building and analyzing crime scenes with technologies so far only existing on popular TV shows. Can’t wait to see what it can do for other industries – from security to medicine.

Otoy brings cloud-based animation tools to the masses: VentureBeat covered a new company today, Otoy, which aims to bring high quality special effects, animation and 3D image rendering to those not working with James Cameron’s budget. Beyond opening up the space for more game changers (literally), Otoy’s plan is quite ambitious in terms of moving this process (and all its graphics) to the cloud. Certainly other video game companies are working toward this, so perhaps we may see those video game consoles obsolete in the next few years. 


The View From Above: In Hard Focus Round-up (August 22nd, 2011)

Augmented Reality Mirror allows you to see your better self: Researchers at the Multimedia and Vision research group at Queen Mary, University of London, have created an application that allows one to change one’s appearance in real time, as reported by New Scientist. Utilizing 3D modeling and feature tracking to create a virtual mirror, the technology could have lots of real-world applications, the obvious being for aesthetic reasons like plastic surgery consultations. See the video above for an application of this technology. 

3-D GPS breakthrough will mean accuracy for scientists and consumers alike: Fast Company reports that scientists at Rice University are working to improve GPS system calculations, which are typically affected by poor altitude judgment and errors from radio signal filtering. The software in development, which aims to filter out these errors and thus improve accuracy, will certainly have wide implications for location-based services beyond simple GPS navigation, from glacier tracking to more precise location-based services and applications (think within centimeters).

Apple betting on AR with a new patent: Apple has recently filed a patent application that will essentially incorporate AR technology into the iPhone’s camera. This patent will not only bring a new layer of information to the already useful native applications (Maps and Compass, for example), but, as CNET reports, may give AR the push it needs to hit mainstream adoption and use. Not to mention, it also opens up the platform for companies and developers looking to get on the Augmented Reality train.