Caitlin Fisher wonders what it would be like if books came alive.
Fisher, director of the Augmented Reality Lab at York University in Toronto, gave a lecture Tuesday on how new technology is making this a “virtual” reality.
She experiments with augmented reality, or “AR,” which inserts digital images on top of live video images.
A program recognizes a specific design being captured by the video, and then places the new image on top of that design.
For instance, a person could take a video of another person with their iPhone. While the video is recording, the program could then place a cat in the person’s empty arms.
Limitless in its applications, Fisher said she uses augmented reality as a creative tool.
“It allows storytellers to be able to tell their stories spatially,” she told a small crowd of about 15 people in Hyde Hall.
Fisher said the technology can enrich everything from poetry to short stories, citing a children’s book that sends bugs crawling over the reader’s hands and arms.
Through augmented reality, she yearns to bridge the gap between the humanities and computer science, Fisher said.
“This is a tool for non-programmers with stories to tell,” she said.
But many attendees were programmers, interested in a way to apply their studies.
“I heard this would have less focus on tech and more on application,” said Jared Heinly, a computer science graduate student.
“I want a feel for what people are actually doing in the industry,” he said.
Fisher said her lab did not invent the technology, and a $250 million university investment allows her to experiment with it.
While currently popular, Fisher admits that sustaining a market for augmented reality will be difficult.
“It’s a novelty and we may fall out of amazement,” she said.
But this doesn’t seem to bother her.
“The point is not to make us rich,” she said.
Laurel Foote-Hudson, a comparative literature masters student who attended the lecture, was inspired by the potential of augmented reality.
“This will give storytelling an immersive visual experience,” Foote-Hudson said.
But Fisher said to her the technology is much more.
“The physical world exists, but there should be a reason why it matters,” she said.
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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