Updated: 06 Jan 2012

Virtual Book Reveals Future of Space Exploration

21st November 2007

Plans for the next 50 years of space exploration are being brought to life in an interactive display created by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) for the National Space Centre.

Experts at DMU's cutting edge Fused Media Lab have been working with the National Space Centre, based in Leicester, to provide the exciting new demonstration as part of the Centre's 'Next 50 Years In Space' exhibition, which coincides with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the world's first satellite.

The display takes the form of a virtual book which uses fused media technology to augment its pages with virtual content such as images and text, providing a greater degree of interactivity for the person reading it.

The book is held underneath a camera by the visitor, who views the pages on a monitor next to the book. The camera is attached to a computer which 'reads' the page that is open and superimposes the relevant image onto the virtual page displayed on the monitor.

For example, visitors holding the book can read a question on its page - such as 'How will astronauts living on the Moon get around?' - and then move the book underneath the camera to see the answer appear on the virtual page displayed on the monitor.

Professor Mohammad Ibrahim, Director of the Fused Media Lab at DMU, said: "We are very pleased to be working with the National Space Centre on this project which tells the story of the future of space exploration in an exciting new way.

"Fused media is the use of technology to blend the physical with the virtual and it is so versatile that it holds massive potential in many different areas, from educational displays like this to commercial applications."

The team at the Fused Media Lab designed the software used to control the display and hope to adapt it for use in different ways in future demonstrations.

For instance, a person could stand in front of the camera and see their face transformed into that of an alien, or have a space suit superimposed onto their body.

Professor Ibrahim added: "We hope we can use the technology in a variety of ways in the future. The vision for what we're trying to do in the Fused Media Lab is to enable consumer and customer driven innovation. That is, the business or organisation comes to us and tells us what they want to achieve and they drive the creative aspect of what they require while we provide the technology and support to enable that vision to happen."

Kevin Yates, from the National Space Centre said: "It has been so great to work with the team at the Fused Media Lab; they are just full of innovative ideas. The potential for their technology to engage a new generation is huge."

The 'Next 50 Years in Space' exhibition runs until March 2008.

For further information or to be kept informed about IOCT activities, please contact:
The Director, Institute of Creative Technologies,
De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH
Tel: (+44) 0116 250 6146
Email: eedmonds [at] dmu.ac.uk

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