Augmented Reality (AR) is the next big thing as far as mobile and smart phone technology is concerned. For the uninitiated, AR is a technology that uses virtual inputs, such as sound and graphics, to augment the physical real-world environment. A concrete example would be pointing a smart phone at a particular real world object and information about that object appears instantaneously on the mobile phone screen.As a technology, Augmented Reality has been around for quite some time. Many of us may not have realized it but sport scores and statistics seen during live sporting events was the first form of AR technology. With mobile phones becoming an integral part of our day-to-day lifestyle, AR is now making its presence felt with mobile technology.
Smart phone users would have already experienced AR technology. What may come as a surprise is T-shirt users being able to experience the same. Designer Sebastian Merchel has come up with a concept that merges technology and fashion in a way few would have thought of.
T-shirts have been a fashion accessory that has been used to express a strong individualistic sense. They have been used to carry messages ranging from touristy ones to clever lines to protest messages. With ‘AR Tees’- Sebastian Merchel’s T-shirt concept- the fashion accessory has gone hi-tech.
AR Tees is based on a simple concept and design frame. There is a black t-shirt (and it could be an ordinary one) on which is imprinted a specialized bar code. The bar code is framed by an old school television set with mechanical dials, antennae pointing in the opposite direction, and speaker grooves on the front.
So far it may look and function like a normal tee. Point a webcam at it though and the AR technology of the tee will blow you away. The TV set imprinted on the tee turns into a real, streaming television for the people watching the tee over the webcam. Old cartoons and Laurel and Hardy shows can be viewed by the person wearing the tee and anyone else watching the person over the webcam.
The AR tech on the tee works with Flash software embedded in your internet browser. The specialized bar code is read by the FLAR-ToolKit to track the content of the tee. Papervision3D has been used to give the content appearing on AR Tees a 3D effect.
In terms of fashion and technology, Sebastian Merchel’s AR Tees looks to be the next big thing.