Time to get really hands-on with your work, thanks to Canon’s next-generation successor to virtual reality
Virtual Reality technology has been receiving much attention recently, as companies such as HTC and Microsoft inject exciting new use cases into what was recently thought to be a dying area.
But if you wanted a really in-depth interactive experience that properly engaged with the user, much of the options around were still somewhat lacking. But not according to Canon.
At its Canon Expo event in Paris this week, the company showed off the latest version of its ‘mixed reality’ (MR) technology, which looks to merge the physical and virtual worlds into one image, providing the user with a more hands-on approach to their virtual experiences.
At first glance, Canon’s mixed reality technology looks fairly similar to traditional VR systems, powered by a comfortable wearable headset that’s a slightly less stylish cousin HTC’s Vive or anything made by Oculus.
Providing all-round images thanks to two video recorders inside, the headset is able to project live video from these recorders alongside content created by an interactive marker detection display, similar to a QR code, which can be mounted on surfaces such as a floor, wall or ceiling to provide a truly immersive experience.
Trying out the technology for ourselves, TechWeekEurope was able to see a virtual car projected on top of a skeleton build (see above), which gave a detailed view of what the finished product would look like. But it wasn’t all virtual, as holding your hand up in front of the cameras created a (slightly blocky) digital version of you, combining the real and the not-so-real in one image.
Moving your head around provided a full 360° viewing, thanks to the headset’s video cameras allowing the device to calculate its exact position and orientation, with internal gyro sensors and optical sensors allowing for further accuracy.
Among the other demonstrations on show at Canon Expo was car maintenance, as a wannabe mechanic was able to gain a full view of the bottom of a vehicle without needing to crawl around on the floor (see below), as well as an in-depth and fully movable view of a complicated piece of factory machinery without the need to pull it apart to carry out maintenance.
But Canon sees the potential range of opportunities for MR as stretching much further. With manufacturing (particularly in the automotive sector) and engineering seen as the prime use cases, the company also sees architecture and healthcare as other possibilities.
The technology will also allow for a much quicker prototype development and testing system, as companies can project how new parts will fit into their existing design, allowing them savings in costs and efficiency.
First launched in July 2012, the technology has come on in leaps and bounds since then, and if it continues to develop from its current point, may well soon be appearing in a business near you soon.
Suits you? Try our Wearable Tech quiz!