Wikipedia (a decent enough source for our purposes here) defines Augmented reality (AR) as a "field of computer research which deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data (virtual reality), where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time."
There are a number of open source AR development
platforms out there, but they require quite a bit of
programming knowledge to get working, luckily, after much research I have found a German company called Metaio that produces a professional development platform called Unifeye. And wouldn’t you know it, they are letting the public download this powerful software for free, as a demo, but you still get all the functionality you want to augment you reality.
What you need:
• Unifeye AR design software
The first thing you need to do is download the software at: www.metaio.com/design/demo, bear in mind that this is quite a big download at 168 MB. Then run the installer.
Once installed, go to the start menu and navigate to metaio> Unifeye Design Demo> Example Scenes>
PlanarMarkerlessPattern.pdf and print out the entire PDF. Each image in the PDF corresponds to a specific scene in the
software, so when you hold the image, say a T-Rex, up to your webcam you’ll see a T-Rex walking on the piece of paper.
To set up the basic sample scenes is actually quite easy. Make sure your webcam is working properly and then close any open webcam windows. Now start Unifeye and go to
File> Open> T-Rex and open the file called “DemoScene_T-Rex.scef”. Your webcam should be running automatically, if not go to the bottom of the screen where you’ll see a webcam icon. Click it and choose your webcam. Now all you need to do is hold up the picture and you’ll see a T-Rex on the screen. Pretty cool eh? Try the different scenes with all the pictures you’ve printed and, if you feel brave, go to www.metaio.com and learn more about this powerful tool.