Before you comment in rage, note that this experiment was not initiated by Facebook or Oculus VR. Instead it’s a proof-of-concept by a team working under the title Dense Planar SLAM. They’re here to make you understand: the next step in virtual reality is crossing the line between virtual reality and real reality – augmented reality, that is to say.
So you’ve got the real world and you’ve got your Oculus Rift headset. That’s what this team is using, along with a ASUS Xtion RGB-D sensor attached at the front of the headset.
• The front sees the world around you.
• The inside interprets what’s seen.
• The back sends an augmented reality to your eyes.
Above you’re seeing the mapping of a room, creating a synthetic scene reconstruction of the space. On the right you’ll see (clockwise from the upper-left): color output, a normal map, non-planar region surfels only, then planar region surfels only. You’ll notice the similarities between this concept and the Google Project Tango devices right away.
The team that’ve made this project have only placed flat images on flat surfaces, for now. Facebook is one of the most-visited websites and most-used apps on the planet – that’s why they’ve chosen it for this demonstration.
You’ll also see Pinterest and a movie playing, as well as some Google Hangouts on a kitchen counter.
This system is not ready for prime-time yet, but it’s getting there. It’s been shown by Renato F. Salas-Moreno, Ben Glocker, Paul H. J. Kelly, and Andrew J. Davison in Proc. International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR), IEEE, September 2014. They have at least one patent pending, and we’re hoping they’ll be able to deliver some real software in the future – looking forward to it!