MIT has created Invisible BrightMarkers to improve interaction with 3D objects.

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QR codes have become a common sight, and while they are convenient, they are also vulnerable to data breaches. However, MIT researchers have found a solution to this problem. Meet BrightMarkers, a new alternative to QR codes that offers enhanced motion tracking, virtual reality (VR), and object detection capabilities.

Unlike QR codes, BrightMarkers are invisible fluorescent tags that are embedded within 3D printed objects. To create BrightMarkers, users can use MIT CSAIL’s software plugin for 3D modeling programs. They can easily place the tag within the design before exporting it for 3D printing. These tags are imperceptible to the naked eye but emit light at a specific near-infrared wavelength, making them visible to specialized cameras.

The detection hardware for smartphones and VR/AR headsets enables scanning and interaction with these invisible markers, unlocking a whole new level of immersive digital experiences. According to MIT researcher Mustafa Doğa Doğan, they have overcome the blurriness often associated with traditional embedded unobtrusive markers by creating fluorescent filaments that emit a light that can be robustly filtered using their imaging hardware. This allows for efficient real-time tracking, even when objects are in motion.

The potential applications for BrightMarkers are vast. In VR settings, for example, a toy lightsaber with an embedded BrightMarker could enhance gaming experiences by allowing users to interact with virtual environments. These tags also excel in motion tracking, enabling precise limb movement tracking for wearables, accommodating users of varying abilities and sizes.

But BrightMarkers go beyond just gaming and wearables. They have the potential to transform supply chain management. By embedding BrightMarkers in products, detailed origin and movement data can be tracked. This would allow consumers to verify ethical sourcing and recycling information by simply scanning an object’s digital signature, similar to proposed Digital Product Passports. Additionally, night vision home security cameras could benefit from this technology, as BrightMarkers can detect movements without invading privacy.

According to Doğan, BrightMarkers hold tremendous promise in reshaping our real-life interactions with technology. As this technology continues to evolve, they envision a world where BrightMarkers seamlessly blend into our everyday objects, facilitating effortless interactions between the physical and digital realms.

Compared to Apple’s AirTags, BrightMarkers are cost-effective and low-energy, making their potential even more promising. They have the power to reshape everyday interactions with technology, from retail experiences to industrial supply chain tracking.

What are your thoughts on BrightMarkers? Do you envision a future where these invisible markers become an integral part of our daily lives? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, and don’t forget to sign up for our weekly additive manufacturing newsletter to stay updated with the latest stories delivered right to your inbox.

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