Could augmented reality windows take boredom out of road trips?

Here at DVICE we've followed many an augmented reality trend. We've explored creepy AR dates with Japanese schoolgirls and pop stars and gloves that allow users to manipulate 3D projects. The latest development is an augmented reality in a transparent train window, allowing the user to play with the scenery as they travel.

The project is called "Touch the Train Window" and uses a Kinect, openFrameworks, an iPhone, a projector and a GPS module working together to allow the user to add things to the scene you are seeing roll by. For example, you could add birds, horses and airplanes that move around in the environment outside your window. The user can even manipulate the objects to make them closer or farther away.

Granted, AR via the Kinect isn't new, but this project does have the added complexity of marrying the images to a transparent background that still allows you to see a real environment in motion. It's an interesting step forward with the technology.

Since the experience is created to be presented on a window, in theory, there's no reason why this couldn't work on plane and car windows just as well as a train. Sure there are always DVD players to keep us from going crazy on long road trips, but you have to admit being able to use your imagination to play with your environment is tantalizing.

Perhaps the next step could be adding the ability for those with AR window seats to interact with each other as they travel. With shared screens and ever increasing sophistication with hand gestures, I could easily imagine multiplayer gaming, puzzles or even just art projects entertaining us in the future making enduring a long trip a breeze.

It sort of makes you feel sorry for those poor middle and aisle seat occupants, doesn't it? Their only revenge? If this tech takes off surely AR window seats will come with a premium price.

Pulling myself back from visions of the future it's interesting to see the current capability play out in the train window project from Japanese audio-visual group Salad. The video below shows how the components come together to make this work, and while the elements look cumbersome now, just remember most of this existing technology is getting smaller every day. The AR window concept could be reality just around the bend.


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