Collaborative Augmented Reality setups are becoming increasingly popular. Currently, we are developing a collaborative environment that is mainly designed for brainstorming and discussion meetings. Using a digital pen, participants can annotate not only virtual paper, but also real printouts. By integrating both forms of physical and digital paper, we combine virtual and real 2d drawings, 3d models, and digital data which are overlaid into a single information space. In cooperation with voestalpine Informationstechnologie GmbH and Team7, the Upper Austrian University of Applied Sciences is the main contributor to this project. The project started in September 2005 and will finish in September 2008.
• Coeno One
• Shared Design Space
Currently, we developed several sub-projects, including Coeno One, Shared Design Space (Interactive Table), Intoi (Digital Whiteboard), and a first demo scenario for our customer, voestalpine. Both the Interactive Table and the Digital Whiteboard are based on the same tracking technology. The setup is based on a pattern, which is tracked by the digital pens. Anoto-based pens are ballpoint-pens with an embedded camera that tracks the movements simultaneously. The pen has to be used on a specially printed paper with a pattern of tiny dots. Each paper sheet is unique and can be ordered from Anoto. In our setup, we use this technology in two ways. Firstly, to track the whole table surface and secondly to combine real paper with digital augmented content. All pens – with their inbuilt infrared camera track at least 36 dots of the paper to retrieve both the ID of the paper and the position relative to the upper left corner of the paper. The position can then be sent in real-time to the PC via Bluetooth. Currently, three commercial pens with Bluetooth are available from Nokia (SU-1B), Logitech (io-2), and Maxell (PenIT).
36 tiny dots are arranged on a square area of 1.5 x 1.5 mm2. The Anoto pattern, placed under the Plexiglas, allows accurate tracking of digital data and the projected content does not interfere with the tracking of the digital pen.
The first scenario prototype implementation is influenced by early paper prototypes that were used to identify potential workflows carried out on table and wall surfaces. The results from the paper based scenarios together with collected requirements from our company partner defined the frame for our first prototype implementation. The current setup includes a digital table, an interactive flipchart and additional information displays. The table is designed to be used by four participants simultaneously who can interact with digital Anoto pens. Data can be manipulated directly on the table, shared between users and transferred to the digital flipchart. For this purpose, private spaces are projected on the table that are owned by a specific user. Exchanging data between users can be accomplished via the public workspace of the table that also works as a data storage place. The flipchart is a rear-projected surface that enables interaction through an ultrasonic MIMIO device. Additional displays can be used to show side information that can be accessed through a screenshot server that runs as a background application. Participants can take a snapshot from any kind of application and further annotate or share this data on the table or the flipchart.