Olympus E-PL1 Gets Augmented Reality Treatment

Olympus has launched an augmented reality demo for the E-PL1, which lets you demo the camera online with the help of your web cam.  When I received the email containing Total Immersion’s press release (the guys behind the augmented reality plugin), I was scratching my head a bit.  But then, I watched the below video and that better explained it (’cause it’s something you really have to see to get it – or maybe it’s just me).

I couldn’t print out my PDF camera fast enough to give this a go for myself.  Sadly, I’m not as coordinated as Olympus’ spokesperson in the video.  But I still managed to take a few snapshots and tinker with the camera controls.

It’s still a little rough around the edges, but Olympus’ implementation of augmented reality on the E-PL1 brings a whole new level of online immersion to the table.

You can try it for yourself at getolympus.com/pen.

Total Immersion seems to be rather proud of its accomplishments with this virtual demo, and rightly so.  It’s pretty cool stuff.  I imagine that this augmented reality stuff is going to be a pretty big deal in the not-so-distant future, with better (and I’m sure worse) implementations coming down the pike.  You can catch Total Immersion’s full press release below.

Total Immersion Press Release

LOS ANGELES (June 30, 2010) – AR is definitely ready for its close-up.

In a development certain to make digital photography buffs do a double-take, Total Immersion (www.t-immersion.com), the global leader in augmented reality (AR), announced that it has teamed with Olympus and Mullen, a Boston-based full service integrated advertising agency, on the world’s first augmented reality camera.

The browser-based AR application enables consumers to explore – and use – a full-featured virtual 3D model of the award-winning Olympus PEN E-PL1 micro camera, the thinnest digital SLR on the market. The demo lets prospective buyers get a feel for the camera’s compact size and the full range of its capabilities. And a click of the virtual shutter provides the same output as the camera itself: a digital photo. For those who like the experience, gratification can be instant, with e-commerce fulfillment at http://getolympus.com.

By visiting http://getolympus.com/pen/, consumers can literally take photos with the virtual camera. They can try their hand at creating videos, popping open the camera flash, and experimenting with photo editing effects by applying a variety of in-camera art filters.

Inserts in the June issue of Wired Magazine and the July issue of Popular Photography offer consumers a life-size printed replica of the camera, which is used to trigger the online AR experience. Consumers can print images of the front and back of the camera from the Olympus site as well. When done putting the Olympus AR camera through its paces, consumers can use the virtual tripod to freeze the camera in space and go to hands-free mode, diving deeper into the PEN E-PL1’s features. Or as LAsnark.com put it, “Olympus has just stepped up and dare I say justified augmented reality with this sweet 3D demo of their PEN E-PL1.” For more, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9Nd04dW2-M

”Augmented reality and digital photography were made for each other,” said Stephen Mietelski, SVP, Group Creative Director, Mullen. “Augmented reality has been used by companies before, but more as a gimmick than as an actual, working, in-depth product demo. This is as close to having the camera in your hands as you can get without actually having it in your hands.”

“The Olympus AR application is an entirely different take on digital photography, going well beyond a product tutorial to provide a virtual experience of the product itself,” said Bruno Uzzan, CEO, Total Immersion. “This offers consumers a special view of the E-PL1 micro camera, in which the product can be spun around, tinkered with, and manipulated in ways that stop just short of a real, tactile experience. That’s true engagement.”