Todd Margolis

Augmented Reality

“We don’t necessarily have to think of immersion into the virtual and augmentation of the physical as the opposites... it all depends on how we understand the idea of addition: we may add additional information to our experience – or we may add an altogether different experience.”
-Lev Manovich

Augmented Reality


Roles: Lead on Optical Tracking; Consultant for System Design & Integration

A small group of UCSD researchers have created a new, relatively low-cost augmented reality system that enables users to touch the virtual environment they are immersed in. The Heads-Up Virtual Reality device (HUVR) couples a consumer 3D HD flat screen TV with a half-silvered mirror to project any graphic image onto the user's hands and into the space surrounding them. With his or her head position optically tracked to generate the correct perspective view, the user maneuvers a force-feedback (haptic) device to interact with the 3D image, literally 'touching' the object's angles and contours as if it was a tangible physical object.

HUVR can be used for training and education in structural and mechanical engineering, archaeology and medicine as well as other tasks that require hand-eye coordination. One of the most unique characteristics of HUVR is that a user can place their hands inside of the virtual environment without occluding the 3D image. Built using open-source software and consumer level hardware, HUVR offers users a tactile experience in an immersive environment that is functional, affordable and scalable.

I contributed to the overall design and system integration of HUVR. Additionally, I consulted on haptics, screen evaluation and testing, mirror surface selection, application development and tele-collaboration configurations. I lead the development of wireless head tracking solutions for HUVR. Two versions of tracking were implemented: a high end VICON system and a custom affordable webcam version. The VICON solution is robust, reliable and accurate, but comes with a significant price tag. The custom solution uses OpenCV and a $11 surveillance camera. The OpenCV tracker uses Haar?s cascades to perform real-time facial detection with Lucas-Kanade optical flow for tracking XY movement. For more information about HUVR, please review my research paper.

Supported by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California, San Diego & King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).


Linked Media


Heads Up Virtual Reality (HUVR) at SuperComputing 2010

Heads-Up Virtual Reality (HUVR) Bridges Visual with Tactile, in 3D and on the Cheap


SPIE: The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality, San Francisco, CA

SuperComputing 2010, New Orleans, LA