Give Me More: Augmented Reality from EPFL+ECAL Lab

At swissnex next Thursday, the Swiss EPFL+ECAL Lab presents several augmented reality works. The EPFL+ECAL Lab is a new unit of the EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) in cooperation with ECAL (University of art and design Lausanne). Its mission is to foster innovation at a crossroads between technology, design and architecture.

Where? – swissnex 730 Montgomery Street, San Francisco
When? – Thursday, 12 November 2009, 6:30 pm
$$$? – Free, but RSVP to attend.

Lemondedesmontagnes.jpgCashback.jpg Clouds

Opening night program (12 Nov 2009)

6:30 pm:  Doors open
7:00 pm:  Presentation from Give Me More curator Nicolas Henchoz, designer Camille Scherrer, and project engineer Fanny Riedo
8:00pm:   Reception and exhibit viewing
10:00pm: Doors close

Event summary

Artistic animations float across the pages of a timeless book about the Swiss countryside. Banknotes prove strangely seductive. Your head is suddenly engulfed in clouds and your clothes ooze bubbles. This is the world of Give Me More, an Augmented Reality (AR) exhibit by Switzerland’s EPFL+ECAL Lab, premiering in the U.S. at swissnex San Francisco.

All five installations in the exhibit layer virtual imagery over a real-world environment and give new meaning to everyday objects. In the dreamy Le Monde des Montagnes (The World of Mountains), an ECAL graduate project by Camille Scherrer awarded the Pierre Bergé prize for Best European Design Diploma in 2008, a handmade book about the Swiss mountains sits on a table. Above hovers a camera disguised as a desk lamp that’s linked to a nearby monitor. But when a user adjusts the “lamp” or moves the book in her hands, the picture on the screen depicts a fantasy land where peculiar, other-worldy images—images that aren’t there in the hardcopy—glide across the pages: Snowflakes fall, birds fly, forest creatures peer from trees.

In Cashback, another installation in the exhibit, a banknote flashed on a screen delivers a flash—in a sense—of its own: The bill comes to life in a rather risqué way (think prancing men and women in their underwear). You’ll never see money quite the same way again.

The installations in Give me More, created in collaboration with the Computer Vision Laboratory at EPFL, represent a milestone in the development of AR; a new relationship between design and technology. The Computer Vision Laboratory managed to build AR software that gives the user an almost magical experience with little trace of the technical thumbprints you’d expect while still offering a reliable, high-speed product. As a result, technology fades away to reveal the full extent of the universe created by the designers: a novel medium, rich with new meaning. Ready for more?

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