Lego's Augmented Reality App Shows You What's Inside the Box

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Ever go to the store, pick up a package, stare at the pictures on the side and wonder "what does this thing inside really look like in all three dimensions?" Today at IDF 2011, Intel showed off an amazing augmented reality application that shows Lego shoppers a 3D rendering of a toy when they pick up a sealed box and hold it in front of a video screen.

Powered by an inexpensive Sandy Bridge PC with integrated graphics and a tiny ITX motherboard, the augmented reality app uses a simple webcam to detect patterns on the lego box and match the product to its appropriate 3D image, which appears to actually float on top of the packaging. For example, a 3D animation of a Lego train appeared to be resting on top of the box even as a user titled the packaging left and right.

In a retail environment, an augmented reality kiosk like this one would allow users to get a better preview of any kind of product, from toys to food. An Intel rep said the software could even be used to show how clothing looks on users, without them ever trying something on. 

This isn't Lego's first experiment with augmented reality kiosks. The toy company had previously deployed an AR kiosk at some of its stores, but according to Intel, that system required much more expensive components (discrete graphics, pricier CPUs) and only worked with a handful of products. It's not clear when Lego might deploy the new system Intel demoed at IDF, but it promises lower cost and the ability to show an avatar for every item in the store.

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