In late July 2012, Canon will release a Mixed Reality system, immersing users in an interactive environment containing a combination of physical and virtual objects.
Canon has developed a special-purpose head-mount display and software for position alignment. The system uses high-precision, high-speed image processing to obtain synthesized images. These look the same size as they would with the naked eye, and they can be seen in real time.
This system is expected to find uses in various fields. But initially, Canon will market it to sectors such as industrial design, where it can speed up the product design and planning process.
“This application is intended for automotive design. In this space where the only real object is a seat, CAD data for a car that’s still being designed can be seen through the display. With this system, evaluations that would normally have to be done with mock-ups can be done using CG or virtual data. So, this system can help to reduce the cost of mock-ups.”
“Initially, this system will be used for design and production, so basically, we’ll be building it separately for each individual customer. The Canon products here are the head-mount display and the software for moving it, but Canon IT Solutions will also be adding value to the core products, in the form of solutions.”
The real-world images are obtained by a stereo camera built into the head-mount display. The design aligns the optical axes of the camera with the light entering the pupil from the display. So, the user’s viewing experience feels quite natural.
“The lens is a special kind of prism, called a free-curve prism. Using this lens gives high magnification, so pictures on the small display look large, while keeping the system very compact.”
As well as motion capture sensors, markers and gyro sensors can be used for position alignment if needed. Canon plans to offer an SDK for developers, so users can develop their own MR applications as well.