Lightform creates AR without a headset

Lightform have developed the first computer made for projected AR that can be connected to any video projector. The system features a 3D scanning device that can turn any object into a screen.

It is AR without the need for a headset. Instead, projection mapping creates the AR on physical surroundings.

The company has secured $2.6 million in seed funding from Lux Capital and Seven Seas Partners.

“Lightform connects to any projector via HDMI and projects a series of patterns,” said Lightfrom CEO Brett Jones. “Those patterns are recognised by the onboard camera, and used to generate a point cloud and 3D model.

“As opposed to realtime depth cameras like the Kinect – which provide comparably low-res point clouds – Lightform generates a high-resolution mesh in under a minute.”

Previously this kind of projection mapping involved a complicated workflow linking several different bits of kit and teams of artists and technicians.

Lightform is marketing itself as the first end-to-end workflow system for projection mapping.

Blending fiction and reality

“We believe projected light is inherently more interesting than a flat screen because it can be overlaid on the existing environment,” Lightform design director Phil Reyneri said.

“This gives designers the opportunity to seamlessly blend digital content with existing materials and structures.”

The company wants to capitalise on the technological advances happening with regards to projection. Not only is the technology underpinning the systems becoming more sophisticated but they are becoming smaller and more affordable.

The company sees projected AR soon becoming an integral part of architecture and interior design.

“We want to democratise the medium,” Reyneri continues, “so it can be used anywhere across film, art, education, cultural exhibits, events, signage, home entertainment, weddings, seasonal décor, theatre, dance and more.”

Bilal Zuberi of Lux Capital said the projector “bridges the gap between fiction and reality by blending the two into a single physical form. It brings digital creativity into the physical world, enabling all surfaces to potentially come alive in a magical way.” 

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