The Ford C-MAX augmented reality campaign ran for two weeks across ten shopping malls with over 125,000 curious shoppers interacting with Ford’s Grand C-MAX vehicle. A selection of on-screen icons allowed participants to explore various features of the car including ‘Door Slide’, ‘Seating’, ‘Power Tail’ and ‘Spin’ with a ‘Minority Report’ style gesture-controlled interface.
The brief from Ford demanded us to track users in the most natural way possible to allow them to ‘play’ with an interactive product advert. No markers or other symbols could be relied on. It also had to ignore people walking past while allowing precise control and selection from the interface.
Inition were approached by digital production company Grand Visual who asked if this was possible and thanks to our recent distribution agreement for the Panasonic D-Imager (a Microsoft Kinect-like depth or Z camera) we provided a simple proof-of-concept demo within one day which secured the project.
Over the next few weeks, our in house team of C++ developers developed an application based on OpenFrameWorks and OpenCV SDKs to code the real-time sensing and video display engine. A sophisticated blob tracking and depth thresholding algorithm sensed the participant’s hands allowing the car to follow the user’s movements. A flocking algorithm gave a fluid, graceful movement around the screen with the optimum amount of ‘bounce’. Full HD resolution, portrait graphics, webcam capture, depth and video camera aspect matching and alignment, gestural user interface, interaction logging for usage analysis and hardware fault tolerance were added before going live.
Fine Tuning and Feedback at Every Stage- An important part of the project was the ability to “fine tune” and “play” with all the control parameters via an on-screen interface. On-screen debugging and depth camera modes allowed us to optimise every aspect of the interaction experience. Our development team provided regular “work in progress” videos and executable versions for the client allowing feedback to be incorporated at every stage.
Inition were present for repeated on-site testing with JCDecaux prior to deployment to ensure the software could cope with the rigours of the real-world environment. Issues included reflection scatter from glass shop windows which were tackled with temporal and contrast filtering of the depth image.
- Across ten shopping malls 125,000 customers interacted with Ford’s Grand C-MAX vehicle.
- Check out the video to see the installation in action!