The future of projection mapping
We have all experienced the thrill and visual entertainment of projection mapping but what does the future hold? Panasonic’s immersive experience expert Thomas Vertommen answers some key questions.
In the future, how do you see projection mapping developing?
Until very recently, people were not used to experiencing projection at scale. So, tapping into our imaginations and using a well-known monument or building to project giant moving 3D images – changing our view of the world – has been a source of great entertainment. But in many ways, despite the complicated programming required for the content creators – this is just the beginning. There is an exciting future for projection mapping.
Imagine stepping into a room where the projection mapping surrounds you – not just projected onto a building in front of you. It would be a much more fun version of the Matrix movie concept, where an alternative reality is created 360 degrees around you.
Will that be possible without a headset, special glasses or viewing through a smartphone – like virtual and augmented reality today?
In theory, yes. And it may not be as far away as you might think. It’s a major focus for some of the big entertainment companies now.
For example, it was recently reported that Disney has patented its Virtual World Simulator. This could use projectors to create a 360-degree immersive world. Disney aims to use multiple projectors and simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) to “determine the moving perspective” of the user in the attraction. Thus eliminating the need for headsets or smart glasses.
What advantages would this type of projection mapping solution bring for the future?
Existing virtual and augmented reality solutions are great but they have restrictions. For example, in a theme park, it’s not so practical. The headsets are expensive and not easy to maintain and clean. In addition, it makes participation a very individual experience. There is a lack of emotional connection when you can’t share the looks of anticipation, excitement and laughter with your friends or family.
What makes this new type of 360-degree, immersive experience attractive is that it can be shared – in person with friends and family and on social media. That ability to share increases the power of the experience for the individuals.
It also helps from a marketing perspective. Experiences can be photographed or filmed as well as shared in person – increasing social media activity and as a result, spreading positive word of mouth about the experience.
What’s stopping this from happening right now?
Projection is making great progress in this direction for the future with increasingly higher brightness, fast mapping tracking capabilities and ever more compact and powerful units. But one of the biggest challenges will be the need for more computation power to create and maintain this 360-degree world of illusion.
I read that Nvidia has recently launched the new RTX4090 graphics card seriously improving the performance in virtual reality. A lot more of these performance increases need to happen on the computer side. Then we need content creation and video distribution capabilities to continue to step up.
How far away do you think this could be from becoming reality?
I don’t have a crystal ball. But I think we might be as few as five years away to see the first attempts. Often, we are only limited by our imagination. Once man has imagined something, we have a long history of success in making that vision a reality. From the first flights to landing man on the moon.
We have a vision for 360-degree projection. So, now our creative and technological thinking can focus on making it a reality.
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