AR and VR are entering a new era. They are moving out of the laboratory and into general use by businesses and consumers for various practical tasks and for games, entertainment, cultural heritage, and social media. In addition to the advent of new hardware and software for stand-alone applications (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Apple ARkit, ARCore, and so on.), there is now a growing movement for delivering AR and VR applications directly on the standard web browsers using Webapp technologies (as announced here by Mozilla). The AEL has been preparing and pioneering this idea for ten years with our custom browser, Argon. Drawing on this background, we are now transitioning to the use of open-source technology such as A-frame and the Mozilla browser, WebXR viewer.
Applications that we are exploring include cultural heritage experiences (such as the Parthenon in Athens), location-based media delivery for storytelling and annotation, and the development of a new kind of digital book (combining prose, images and AR/VR interactivity). In the coming months we will be show-casing a variety of prototypes in these areas.
Lab activities focus on understanding how to build interactive computing environments that directly augment a user's senses with computer-generated material. Researchers are interested in augmenting the user's perception, and place particular emphasis on the interaction between the users and their environment.