Amazon Plans to Bring AR to Any Room


Amazon is the latest name looking to break into the augmented reality (AR) space. The company’s recently approved patents outline the creation of a gesture-controlled interface and system that allows users to interact with virtual objects in their environment.

A concept from Amazon's Lab126 hardware division, “reflector-based depth mapping” potentially allows users, real-world objects, and projected objects and information to interact within any kind of setting, ranging from a living room to an indoor attraction. According to its US patent – submitted in November 2012 and approved earlier this month, the company hopes to create a projector-based system which can “transform an entire room into another reality for user’s senses” by mapping objects and bodies.

To measure the depth of the objects within a room, Amazon is working on a system that implements a single light source, a reflector (such as an ellipsoidal reflector), shutter mechanism associated with the light source, and a camera. A light source outputs light to create the shutter mechanism, with the reflector providing the second set of light beams towards the scene.

mazon’s “object tracking” concept seeks to create an interface which takes physical manipulation through keyboards or headsets out of the equation and solely focuses on gesture-based input. Proposed in February 2013, the object tracking system implements a range of projectors and camera to beam virtual images onto real objects, and track hand movements as a user interacts with them. Amazon has stated that it hopes to overcome the challenge of tracking hand motions over time through constant calibration and recalibration.

Both concepts implement an “augmented reality functional node” (ARFN) that can be positioned on ceiling or wall surfaces.

There is currently no prototype for either of Amazon’s patents.