Augmented Reality and Censorship

Although it seems the Augmented Reality is in general use in digital innovations, different industries (e.g.: fashion, furniture) and medical care, the artists have already been creating AR art for years. Today, AR is not only used in artistic creations but to evade and resist the censorship in the arts.

Censorship of art or artists happens for many reasons all around the world. Here I want to introduce two excellent pieces of work that fight against the censorship of arts. In fact, the works themselves are the unique art.

Shades of Absence

Shades of Absence” is a constellation of absence images of contemporary artists who have been censored by the governments and faced threats of violence and even arrest or whose works are censored in public sphere.

These artworks are based on Augmented Reality. They are placed on the public through GPS coordinates. The audiences can use their smartphones to view these artworks. Besides the list of censored artists, some limited artists could also be seen with erased silhouettes.

Artworks In the Series

“Shades of Absence: Public Voids”

In this part, it displaces the artists whose works are not allowed to display in public sphere. If wanting to know more information about the artists, just touch the screen of your smartphone, and there is a link bringing you to the website.


Shades of Absence: Public Voids,” Piazza San Marco, Venice. Tamiko Thiel, Augmented reality intervention into the Venice Biennale, 2011. Use with permission


Shades of Absence: Public Voids,” Brooklyn Bridge, NY. Tamiko Thiel, Augmented reality installation, DUMBO Arts Festival, 2011. Use with permission

“Shades of Absence: Outside Inside”

In this part, it addresses the artists who have faced violence or arrest whether they have been censored or not.


Shades of Absence: Outside Inside,” Venice Giardini. Tamiko Thiel, Augmented reality intervention into the Venice Biennale, 2011. Use with permission


Shades of Absence: Outside Inside,” Manhattan Bridge, NY. Tamiko Thiel, Augmented reality installation, DUMBO Arts Festival, 2011. Use with permission

About the Artist

Tamiko Thiel, a media artist, creates this art project. She has got degrees in engineering from Stanford and MIT and a fine arts degree. She has devoted herself in combining the technologies with arts.

Tiananmen SquARed

This public art project is called Tiananmen SquARed. From the name we can quickly to notice that it is a combination of the issue of the student uprising in Tiananmen Square in 1989 in China and Augmented Reality. It uses AR to imitate the image of The Goddess of Democracy and Tank Man to dedicate the human rights and the contributions by the democratic soldiers.

The Goddess of Democracy

The Goddess of Democracy, a 10-meter-tall statue was created in Tiananmen Square during the 1989’s student uprising. The statue just existed in only four days and was destroyed by the soldiers who suppressed the movement. This art project uses AR to restore the statue and places the ‘statue’ back in the square.


Screenshot visualizations of ‘The Goddess of Democracy’, 2011–present. Augmented Reality artwork. Pic: 4Gentlemen. Labeled for noncommercial reuse.

 Tank Man

Tank Man is to memory the man who stood in front of the tanks that went into the Tiananmen Square to suppress the movement on June 5, 1989. The soldiers who controlled the leading tank wanted to keep away from the man. However, the man was changing his position with the tank, trying to prevent the military or demonstrate against the suppression.


Screenshot visualizations of ‘Tank Man’, 2011–present. Augmented Reality artwork. Pic: 4Gentlemen. Labeled for noncommercial reuse.

The Usage of AR on Children’s Treatment

Augmented Reality could be used in many fields. It will create inexhaustible power and possibility when combining the AR technology and demands. Today, I would like to introduce an AR product in the children’s treatment. Gomo is a toy with an augmented-reality IPad app to help children face the treatment in hospital. It not only makes the treatment interesting and meaningful but also makes the children feel relieved when accompanying with the toy.


Gomo is not only a plush toy but also interfacing with an AR iPad app, designing by Lily Karatzas. It uses to help children ease the stress and anxiety during hospitalizing for treatment. This product won the Best of the Best of Red Dot Award in 2016.


The picture of children with Gomo. Pic: Lily Karatzas, used with permission

The picture of the doctor teaches a kid how to use Gomo. Pic: Lily Karatzas, used with permission

Why Children Need Gomo

Hospitalized children always suffer anxiety. Hospital takes away children’s freedom and restricts their actions in some way, which are easy to cause stress and anxiety. The preschool-aged children are especially vulnerable to the impacts of anxiety and stress. Psychological stress is not only bad for their healing processes but also increasing the re-hospitalization possibility. As the National Center for Biotechnology Information notes, if the patients stay longer at the hospital, the rates of re-hospitalization are higher.

Lily, the creator of Gomo interviews Clare Foley who works in Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant. Clare says children are easy to fall into fear and stress when facing the medical appliances and suffering painful disease. Clare always talks with them to divert their attentions and gives them some sense of control.

According to these demands, Gomo is born.

The Function of Gomo

There are parts of Gomo. One is a plush toy with a lovely appearance. The other part is an AR IPad app. We can use the Gomo app to scan the toy. Then the surface of the toy will show up on the screen in the 3D form. The Gomo app includes ten body systems such as the skeletal system, digestive system, nervous system and so on.


The picture of the plush toy, Gomo. Pic: Lily Karatzas, used with permission


The picture of the Gomo app. Pic: Lily Karatzas, used with permission


The picture of the Gomo app. Pic: Lily Karatzas, used with permission

The cute toy could attract children’s attention, enabling them to forget the pain temporarily. The Gomo app is like an animation, and Gomo is a vivid a cartoon character. It can ‘communicate’ with children. When children touch the screen, they will hear a lovely voice with simple language. Also, when the toy doesn’t connect with the app, it is a metal-free toy. Children can bring it into the CT or X-rays room. It makes children feel not lonely. Gomo is like a friend accompanying with kids.

What’s more, as Clare says, when the things are under control, it is easy to overcome the stress and fear. The app provides a way to help children produce the sense of control. The doctor can use the app and the toy to explain the illnesses and injuries for Children. In this way, children can acquire knowledge about the body system and disease through this app. It makes children feel that hospital and illness are not scary and terrifying.

AR Changes the Fashion Industry

Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the hottest keywords in digital sphere in 2016. Besides the digital world, it indeed changes the real world. It is not only a fun technology but also breaks the pattern we get along with the world such as the model of the industries, the business run of the brands and the habit of consumers’ consumption. In this blog, I will list some applications of AR in the fashion industry and explain the implications for this industry, beauty brands, and consumers.

In Fashion Industry: Dressing Room and Mirroring Reality

No matter clothes or cosmetics, we want to try them and see if they are suitable for us before buying them. That’s one of the primary reasons why the traditional shopping way still exists rather than replaces by the online shopping. However, when AR appears, some retailers begin to combine this technology with the regular shopping pattern. The traditional shopping way for consumers is also changing with the trends.

Dressing Room

Could you imagine that someday the dressing room is no longer a real fitting room but a screen? You only need to activate the digital device like a big screen, an iPad, even your smartphone with augmented reality. Then you can browse broader collections and try them. The mixing fashion and augmented reality is a perfect choice for the online retailers and the consumers who are unwilling to wait for the dressing room or try on a horde outfits.

At 2014 London’s Retail Business Technology Expo, Samsung UK, Ted Baker and Zugara displayed the Virtual Style Sense (VSS), which is an in–store Virtual Dressing Room Platform. With 3D camera and AR technology, VSS utilize both gesture and voice navigation. It not only increases the showroom but also creates a unique shopping way for shoppers who can use it to change the color and style of the clothes. This technology also can be used in the real store to alleviate the fitting room shortage and a long time to try on clothes.

Unlike VSS still need consumers to go to the warehouse, some apps allow them stay at home and try on clothes. For example, Cymplifi Inc, a company based in California, focuses on mobile augmented reality and mobile fashion app. It launched an AR fashion app that allowed the consumers to ‘dress up’ different clothes through their smartphones. Just open your smartphone’s camera and the picture of the clothes will overlay your image. It also encourages you to post the results on your social media, which gives you opportunities to receive your friends’ suggestions before purchasing them.


Mirroring Reality

Besides AR dressing room, could you imagine AR makeup? ‘This lip-gloss looks perfect for the model, but does it fit me?” ModiFace, an augmented reality makeup app helps you solve this problem. You can choose different brands, different productions and different colors of cosmetics on the ModiFace, which applies them to your skin in real-time on your screen.

For users, it helps them try on the various cosmetics before buying. You can do it anytime and anywhere for free and don’t need to remove it. For brands, there are 55 of top makeup brands like P&D, Unilever and Sephora paying $200,000 to $500,000 a year for ModiFace to put the augmented reality technology into their apps. For such AR apps, providing technology’s support and cooperating with top makeup brands are a good way to make them into a beneficial cycle.

The Development and Prospect of AR Smartphone

In 2015, AR was one of the digital media trends for 2016. In 2016, people are familiar with AR. The technology of AR gradually matures in the various fields. However, in the area of the mobile phone, the AR smartphone is still in the exploratory phase. Based on the Google’s Project Tango, the AR smartphone becomes possible.

Firstly, I will explain what the Project Tango is. Then I will introduce the first Tango-enabled phone, Lenovo’s PHAB2 Pro. However, the time of distribution of Lenovo’s PHAB2 Pro is delayed. I will interview a marketing manager in Lenovo China.

Project Tango

Project Tango is developed by Google. It is a technology platform, which use computer vision to perceive and detect the environment around the smartphones or tablets users. The feature of this technology is that it doesn’t need to base on GPS or signals.

With the GPS or signals, we know where we are in the world. However, it cannot tell us where we are in the room. Project Tango help devices measure the physical space and give you a visible answer about where you are in the chamber.

The application developers can use this platform to design user experiences such as navigation of indoor activities, recognition of environment, space measurement and so on.

This platform makes the Augmented Reality come into utilities. For example, when you shop for a sofa, Tango enables you to see your living room from your devices and makes the various choices of sofa come into visualization.

Lenovo AR smartphone

In January 2016, Google announced it would cooperate with Lenovo to develop an AR smartphone based on Tango platform. At Lenovo Tech World 2016, Lenovo release the world’s first Tango-enabled smartphone, the Phab 2 Pro.

It has a three-camera array, supports AR games and contains AR utilities. Using a depth sensor and motion-tracking, the smartphone can measure and detect the environment around the use, and track where the user is in a room.

The Phab 2 Pro is expected to sale in September this year. The price is $499 USD.

The delay of Lenovo AR smartphone

In the official website, the date of distribution changes from ‘This Summer’ to ‘This Fall.’ The official doesn’t indicate the specific time for its delivery.

Why is it delay? What are the problems it faces? What is the future of AR smartphone? I ask these questions with the manager.

(I post the translating/English version on my blog.)

Interview the marketing manager in Lenovo China.Podcasting: Xiaoli Fan. All rights reserved.

Interview the marketing manager in Lenovo China.The picture: the picture of the Phab 2 Pro. Used with permission.Podcasting: Xiaoli Fan. All rights reserved.

Here is the script.

Q1: What causes the delay of the Phab 2 Pro?

The first reason is that this technology is not mature now. It still needs time to adjust and have a test-run to improve this technology. For example, the demo displayed on the project presentation proved problematic. In the display of a virtual dominos game, the dominos suffered repeated freeze. Also, it will take several attempts to lock on the object to get its dimensions.

As the core component of the Phab 2 Pro, the 3D Image Sensor, developed by Infineon Technologies and pmdtechnologies is a new product. The supply and output of it would be relative low and slow.

These two reasons would be the key factors that contribute to its delay. After solving these problems, it will go on sale. 

Q2: What are the challenges the AR smartphone face?

The key factor for AR smartphone’s success is the utility software. If the third-party applications cannot provide valuable and satisfied user experience, the AR smartphone will end in failure.

Actually, the Phab 2 Pro only has a small number of possibilities such as supporting AR video games, scanning the object and the ability to see and move 3D models of the furniture. In fact, these applications only have small group of consumers. The applications whether attracting the customers will be the key to success.

Q3: what is the prospect for the Phab 2 Pro (the AR smartphone)?

As I have mentioned, the key factor for success is the applications. The development direction is the development of applications. In October, we have held Global Innovation Marathon Development Competition in Shenzhen. Every team should develop an AR or VR application on the Tango Platform.

Anyway, it is an inevitable trend to use the technology of AR in our future life. The exploration of the AR smartphone will continue.

Augmented Reality

With the emergence of Pokémon Go, more and more people begin to know the abbreviation ‘AR’. However, the majority of people just know this game uses the AR technology, but they don’t know what the AR is. This blog will first explain what AR is. Then it will introduce the elements and classification of AR. Finally, it will list the application of this technology.

What is AR

AR is the abbreviation of ‘Augmented Reality.’ From the name, it is evident that it is a combination between virtuality and reality. It is a technology that makes the virtuality and reality in real-time fusion, which enables the virtual world and real world interact with each other. AR is the extension and development of virtual reality, which adds the real-world environment. It combines the computer-generated sensory input including dynamic images, sound, video, and data of GPS and a physical, real-world context. In short, AR brings the digital world into the reality that we can perceive.

The Elements of AR

There are three elements of AR. The first one is that the content the device displays must contain the virtuality and reality, which is the primary component of AR. The second one is that the fusion must be in real-time. The fusion must be dynamic rather than static and can alter with the change of environment. The third element is that the device must create a 3D context, which means creating the spatial scale on the screen. The screen will show up different content with your movement.

The Classification of AR

As I have mentioned above, AR is a combination between virtuality and reality. According to the various ways of fusion, we can classify the AR into two categories. The first type is involving in the real objects. The other kind doesn’t need real objects. Pokémon Go belongs to the second type, which doesn’t need the aid of objects. The first type is like the product Gomo, which I will introduce you in my later blog.

The application of AR

The use of AR can be diverse and broad. My following blogs will show you how the technology of AR applies in the smartphone; how AR changes the fashion industry; how AR refers to children’s treatment and how AR uses in arts censorship. Obviously, the market of AR is tremendous potential.

By the Way

If you are an ordinary audience, I hope you can gain knowledge from my blogs, and I’m glad if you could share your ideas about AR with me.

If you are an AR technology developer, I hope you can derive some inspiration from my blogs, and I’m glad if you could share your suggestions about AR with me.

If you are an investor, I hope you can make a good choice from this tremendous potential market.


Virtual World is Visible

“He knows Pikachu, but everyone knows Pikachu!” a woman who was fighting with a man said with anger. It’s a really fun and hilarious video on the internet. Undoubtedly, you have been involved in Pokémon Go these days, proactively or passively.

The picture of Pocket Monsters. Pic: Claudio Coloma Pradenas/ No known copyrights restrictions

The TV Anime Pocket Monsters was doomed to be a miracle. It was born in Japan in 1997, and famous all over the world. The cute and fantastic monsters, the friendship between the trainers and monsters, and the adventures in the story all attract us and make us put ourselves into this magical world. Until now, Pikachu is still one of the most popular images in the world.

The happy and unforgettable memory of our childhood is not the only reason why the game creates a great stir throughout the world, but the important one. Expect the nostalgia, the technology about Augmented Reality (AR), which aims to interact and bridge the virtual world and real world, is a direct motivation in this wave.

The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, and Niantic Labs created this game for smartphone together. After the releasing of Pokémon Go, Nintendo’s share price had a huge jump in the week. “It is clear that the future of gaming is more inline with the AR focus of Pokémon GO rather than VR,” Ollie Barder, a Forbes writer, said.

The players use the GPS to locate their positions, catch the shown monsters, and even have a battle in the clubs. The most impressive part is the pre-camera of your mobile phone will open when you find a monster and want to catch it. The vivid cartoon image just appears in the real world! It even moves! What an amazing thing!


The interface of Pokémon Go. Pic: Darren Mark Domirez/ No known copyrights restrictions

Are you ready to go outside to catch your monsters or to become a Pokémon trainer? Are you ready to search the world of augmented reality with me? Let’s go.