Magic Map is a collaborative project between HIT Lab AU and CSIRO Tasmanian ICT Centre that aims to improve the way we view and understand environmental sensor data through the use of Augmented Reality (AR) interface technology. When using a traditional (physical) map in conjunction with a webcam with the Magic Map application (developed by HIT Lab AU), the user is able to see a 3D overlay of data collected from CSIRO environmental sensors displayed on the map. The interface to the Magic Map application is through physical objects (turntable dials), referred to as Tangible AR interface. The user is also able to select the type of sensor data, satellite terrain imaging, and time periods displayed by manipulating physical dials placed around the map (active only within the field of view).
YouTube video is available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYiqfUd7WLY
Sensors and Terrain Overlay
Stationed across Tasmania is a vast sensor array maintained and operated by CSIRO which collects various types of environmental data every few minutes, from direct solar radiation and air temperature through to river water level and flow speed. One of CSIRO's stated goals for this sensor web is to make the data available for public use and make as many people aware of it as possible. This information has been made available to the public on Sensor Web
. The Sensor Web uses a typical keyboard and mouse interface to select a type of sensor at a (clicked) selected location on the Google Map. The selected data is then displayed on a 2D chart.
The primary aim of the Magic Map project was to demonstrate a new intuitive way to view and interact with the sensor data. It uses a tangible AR interface that enables a user to view & select the sensor data by simply manipulating the webcam in the direction of where the user wants to see the sensor information and rotating three turntable dials to a desire option (data type, terrain type, and time stamp). The Magic Map will in real time create an AR view that has the selected sensor data overlaid on the physical Tasmania map. The overlaid content can be rendered in 3D (e.g. 3D bar). By making the interface similar to the way humans interact with physical objects, the Magic Map is enabling individuals with no computing experience to pick up a webcam and interact with CSIRO sensor data. It is a long term goal of the project to demonstrate that the Magic Map interface is capable of making the sensor data easily understandable by general public, and as a result, increase the public awareness and understanding of the available environmental sensor data.
How Magic Map Works
Magic Map without terrain overlay
Magic Map uses a technology called tangible augmented reality to take a video feed from a webcam, modify it by overlaying 3D objects on top of images of the real world and then displaying the modified image to the user in real time. Upon starting, Magic Map Tasmania downloads the latest sensor data from CSIRO (for a date range the user has previously specified in a configuration file) and processes it to extract the information the user selected. It then overlays each of the sensor information onto the physical map in the video feed on their corresponding geometrical locations, with either bars or arrows of various heights representing the temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, direct solar radiation, rainfall or river water level at a specific location at a specific time.
The 3D terrain overlays are pre-generated and overlaid on the physical map (underneath the sensor displays) whenever the user selects it to be shown by rotating the Terrain dial to a desired option. Both an elevation model and a satellite terrain model are available for viewing, giving the user a view of the mountainous terrain of Tasmania in real world. The user will be able to "fly" in the 3D terrain by moving the webcam around the augmented terrain as if the terrain were real.
Manipulating any of the dials results in commands being sent to the application, either changing the type of sensor data being displayed, changing the time the visible sensor data was collected or changing the appearance of the terrain overlay. This requires both the physical map and the dials to be visible simultaneously.
Magic Map Tasmania was built using ARToolKit4 Natural Feature Tracking
technology provided by ARToolWorks
for tracking, OSGART
for the 3D data display and uses sensor data and maps from CSIRO Tasmanian ICT Centre
for the data display components.