Can an AR App Bring Your Favorite Stars into Your Living Room?

Remember the famous dance scene from Pulp Fiction?  John Travolta and Uma Thurman twisting to “You Never Can Tell” sung by Chuck Berry certainly brings back nostalgic memories for some, myself included.

Well there’s good news, as very soon we’ll be able to take our favorite two-dimensional movies and project images from them into the three-dimensional space around us.  Or Fleisher and Shirin Anlen have developed an augmented reality app called Volume, that’s capable of doing just that.

The example being shown has the app taking John and Uma out of their surroundings and projecting them, dance moves and all, into the space around the viewer.  It’s already pretty neat, but the project is still in it’s infancy, so bear that in mind and don’t judge too harshly.  As you can see the image projections are not amazing just yet.  Overlook the intermittent glitches, and it’s easy to imagine how cool this technology will be once perfected.  Imagine James Bond, Wolverine in action around you, or your favorite musician, performing live and center stage in your living room.

The system being used by Volume is complicated to say the least.  Using a single image to make depth predictions, a convolutional neural network is able to filter images against a corresponding depth value.  This is a great example of how powerful the machine learning capabilities are.

“Our experiment with Pulp Fiction allows users to step inside one the film’s scenes in Augmented Reality, using Apple’s ARKit framework on an iPad,” explains Fleisher. “This experiment is one of a few we are conducting at the moment, which illustrates the power of being able to reconstruct 3D scenes from 2D images. The possibilities of being able to reconstruct archival and static footage into 3D environments are one of the main motivations behind the development of the tool used to create these experiments called Volume.”

At this moment, Volume is primarily being developed as a web app, with the aim to tie into VR and AR platforms.  According to Fleisher, Volume’s machine learning infrastructure has been based off of Google’s AI Tensorflow.  Motivated largely by cinematics and visuals instead of mathematics, Volume hopes to bring a creative way of understanding the challenges of augmented reality.

This technology could be revolutionary for many industries, such as the entertainment industry for starters.  Movies, TV shows, concerts and more could become almost life-like when projected into our homes in 3D.  Telecom could change forever, allowing us to engage digitally, as if we were face to face in real life.  Tourism, healthcare, engineering, architecture – the list goes on – all stand to derive great benefits from AR technology.  Even pornography, which has seen it’s stock rise significantly thanks to the introduction of virtual reality, is poised for another breakthrough.

Mike Hartman of says “The ability to bring porn stars directly into your bedroom, and to experience the action inside your own space is going to be the next big thing for porn.  It’s a real challenge for developers but once the technology can provide a fluid, HD image in 3D it’ll be massive.”

Hologram projections have long been a part of science fiction and great strides are being made to bring the stuff of the future to the now through augmented reality.  Virtual reality is cool, but being able to apply the same concept to real life surroundings, should mean AR will surpass VR in terms of adoption and capabilities.  Here’s to an exciting future, filled with all the technology we used to only see in the movies.

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