Hackers create digitally assisted billiards

December 12, 2008 // 9:58 a.m.

Tags: #augmented-reality #billiards #cheat #e-box #georgia-institute-of-technology #overlay #pool #snooker #visual-studio

If, like me, you've always wanted to be a pool shark but have been hampered by a complete lack of natural talent, then the technology could be here to lend you a helping hand.

Over on Hack a Day they're showing a project created by Justin Needham and Matthew Straub of the Georgia Institute of Technology called “Digitally Assisted Billiards.” By hooking a camera and a projector up to an e-Box 2300 PC, the pair are able to visualise the trajectory of balls on the table before they are hit in a view that will be terribly familiar to anyone who played Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker.

The camera, positioned in the corner of the room due to a lack of budget for a wide-angle lens that would allow it to be mounted directly above the table, records the field of play and sends the data to the e-Box. When the image is received – and corrected for keystone – the pair's homebrew code analyses the shot and draws lines of trajectory for the projector to overlay onto the playing surface.

The code includes some interesting workarounds for issues the pair encountered during construction: as well as correction for the aforementioned keystone issues caused by the location of the camera, the pair used a mirror mounted to plywood to spread the projector's image to cover the entire table and needed to correct the distortions the not-entirely-flat reflective surface produced.

Built in Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, the work is a fascinating look at how augmented reality systems can change the world around you; plus an even more fascinating look at how far a geek will go to win a game of pool.

Has the pair's work inspired you to have a go at your own augmented reality project, or are you just looking forward to when you can get the system built in to a pair of glasses and really clean up at the pool club? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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