Peek

Peek is a system for “augmented reality graffiti”, in which an application for mobile devices allows a user to view virtual performers situated into real physical spaces. Developed by Andy Biar and Andrew Bueno, Peek forces users to reconsider the idea that familiar spaces are immutable, and encourages them to engage with their surroundings.

In an article in the popular design blog PSFK, Rachel Pincus writes: “Biar’s video compiling his experiments and process turns his city of Pittsburgh into a treasure trove of unexpected easter eggs, some of them permanent and others as ephemeral as a pile of dead leaves. The city’s famous Cathedral of Learning, for example, is satirized by a performance of an actor rapidly kneeling and pretending to ‘pray’ in front of its stained-glass windows. Each superimposed element, whether rendered or filmed, is attached to a specific physical ‘fiducial’ in the actual world that is marked by the app and cannot be removed unless the physical space is significantly altered. Through the RGBD workflow, filmed footage is overlaid with points in 3D space, giving the app some flexibility in recognizing where to place performers and objects. However, there are still many limitations in the app’s functionality, many of them possibly the result of limited mobile device image sensors. For example, Biar and his collaborators found that they could only place fiducials at certain times of the day, and the app didn’t recognize the same locations when the lighting was different.”

Biar and Bueno developed scripts to import 3D models from the RGBD Toolkit (for Kinect-based 3D video capture) into the Unity3D game engine. A Github repository for their work can be found here: https://github.com/andybiar/RGBD-Unity3D

cover-624x307

Peek was supported by a microgrant from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier (FRFAF)— an endowment founded to encourage the creation of innovative artworks by the faculty, students and staff of Carnegie Mellon University. With this fund, the STUDIO seeks to develop a cache of groundbreaking projects created at CMU — works that can be described as “thinking at the edges” of the intersection of disciplines.

Andy Biar and Andrew Bueno are currently juniors at CMU, studying Fine Arts and Computer Science in the BCSA degree program. Their project has been featured in PSFK and other blogs.