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$2,225
pledged of $250,000pledged of $250,000 goal
16
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Aug 22 2016
Phantom ARBy Phantom AR
First created
Phantom ARBy Phantom AR
First created
$2,225
pledged of $250,000pledged of $250,000 goal
16
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Aug 22 2016

About

For years we’ve been seeing eye-candy demos of the magical glasses that were meant to bring augmented reality to life. But somehow we’re still not there. A few appealing headsets are currently being developed by the major tech companies, but we believe those aren’t going in the right direction either. Honestly, would you buy a $3,000 helmet just to see your Outlook calendar pinned to a wall? Or to Skype in 3D? Sure it looks cool on video, but we’re certain this is not what we want to spend our money on.

We’re also not about to ditch mouse and keyboard – perfectly optimized by 40 years of gradual improvements – in favour of bulky computers we have to wear on our heads… especially when the switch would mean struggling with previously trivial tasks. They won’t allow us to magically design things in 3D either.

The problem is, there’s still very little practical use for augmented reality as depicted by all those fancy corporate demos. This isn’t VR: effects are not enough. We need to go deeper.

Here at Phantom we are huge AR enthusiasts who want to see a different kind of Augmented Reality happen. AR that creates new possibilities for interacting with each other, that lets us engage with the environment more, that brings new utility value, and that takes place on a massive scale. We believe we have what it takes to make it happen, but we can’t do it alone.

The Battle Plan

Phantom is taking a slightly different approach. We’re not making another AR headset; instead, we are fully focusing on putting together everything else. Here’s how we’ll make augmented reality great again:

  • Fix how we interact with AR. Without this, we’re not going anywhere
  • Build an awesome OS just for AR. This is a brand new animal, so there’s no room for compromises
  • Teach the OS to make sense of the environment around the user
  • Make all this independent of display hardware (you don’t change your OS with a new computer screen, do you?)
  • Hand it all over to the community of creative hackers -- along with powerful developer tools
  • Watch the new digital world grow!

Interactions On The Go

Our story began when Mirek Burkon, the founder of Phantom AR, realized there was no way this new technology was about to be controlled as everyone had been thinking - even though this was what everyone was struggling with. Tom Cruise in Minority Report sure performs some interesting hand gymnastics, but it’s all surprisingly silly when you try it yourself. That’s when the work on Phantom Touch began.

Click to see the early prototypes in action
Click to see the early prototypes in action

Mirek explored many promising new technologies, from EEG and eye tracking to muscle-sensing, but nothing performed well enough -- most of these technologies are not mature enough, and won’t be for another ten years. The only sufficiently accurate technology we have is Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs), which use accelerometers, gyros, and magnetometers to sense orientation. Paired with the unique ability to detect the touch of bare fingers, this forms the basis of Phantom Touch. Unlike a few other glove projects out there, Phantom Touch is designed to solve one and only one problem – interaction with wearable augmented reality. That makes a big difference.

What you see on our videos is a design prototype of the consumer version of the Phantom Touch controller. So far it comes with many limitations. The controllers you get as a part of the dev kit will be a bit more nerdy-looking, but they will still be compact, comfortable, durable, and performing exactly as shown. We are aiming for this kind of look and feel with the final product.

Very first experiments with interactions
Very first experiments with interactions

Phantom Touch Specs:

  • 4x IMU (9-DOF) for palm, thumb, index, and middle finger (the little and ring fingers are not very useful for interactions, so we don’t even track their movement)
  • Touch sensors on the index, middle, and ring fingers register even a very light contact with the thumb
  • 2 side buttons on the index finger, 1 on the middle finger
  • Full-day battery life (at least), charging via micro USB
  • Connection to the central device via Bluetooth LTE
  • Smart LED showing the device status
  • One size fits all

Phantom OS

The next logical step was to create an environment and user interface around the new interaction model, simply because there isn’t anything out there to work with. For the same reasons that iOS differs from macOS -- that is, because we use them differently -- AR requires a completely fresh design approach. We’ve chosen Android as a foundation because it’s already very capable, mature, and open source. But the whole user interface had to be recreated and fine tuned for the new control system. We are also building in some new unique AR-specific services to make sense of the environment and to help devs get started.

You are probably wondering how far along we are with all this, and we won’t lie. The video shows our design vision and the intended behaviour of the system, but it will take a bit longer before we can demo the OS live. But what you see is definitely not just smoke and mirrors. This vision already incorporates some core design principles based on extensive research and prototyping. You’ll be the first to hear about any upcoming updates as we progress further.

You may also like to hear that – like the whole Android project itself – Phantom OS will be fully open sourced!

Environment Sensing, Viewport Motion Tracking

You can’t do augmented reality without knowing with great accuracy what surrounds the user and where exactly the user is – whether outdoors or indoors. There’s been a lot of progress in computer vision and machine learning in the past few years. Autonomous cars and drones are already mapping their surroundings pretty well, and there are open source toolkits such as Google’s Project Tango and many others allowing computers to make sense of the environment and movements in the user’s field of view. Phantom OS will be able to accurately map the space and objects around you, detect head movements, and present all this to your apps as 3D objects in a vast game-like scene.

One of the earliest clip prototypes with various cameras and one of the possible mounts.
One of the earliest clip prototypes with various cameras and one of the possible mounts.

All this requires specialized cameras and sensors, and we can’t yet rely on 3rd parties to build them directly into their glasses. Since headset makers are still trying to build their own software (with different aims and often doubtful results), their sensors vary a lot. For instance, the majority of current headsets are constructed to work only indoors as they utilize IR cameras for depth sensing -- this doesn't work very well on direct sunlight. That's why we're now switching to stereoscopic cameras more suitable for outdoor use.

Real-time simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) in an unknown environment
Real-time simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) in an unknown environment

As we progress further, we’ll work with headset makers to create a standard for a basic sensory array. But for now – to quickly provide our community with something affordable and functional – we are using sensory clips that can be attached to any headset.

The Phantom Cloud

User experiences must be shared and interconnected in a world-wide augmented reality. Imagine a vast 3D map with multiple layers, both shared and private: utility layers, art layers, game layers, and much more. This is the Phantom Cloud. A new digital realm tightly wrapped around the old physical world, which is being continuously scanned and rescanned by sensors carried by every user (and perhaps even robots and drones, expressing themselves publicly as various digital creatures). And don’t worry, all this is being built with your privacy and security in mind.

Glasses

So what’s up with the glasses? Everyone is banging on about the hardware, and we’re not. Isn’t that a bit strange? Well, not really: it’s because we know there will be plenty of choices available in the fairly near future.

From top-left: Microsoft HoloLens, Vuzix B3000, Oculus Rift (usable with a see-through camera on the clip), Avegant Glyph, ODG R-7, Epson BT-300, Meta 2, Carl Zeiss smart eyewear prototype, Gear VR
From top-left: Microsoft HoloLens, Vuzix B3000, Oculus Rift (usable with a see-through camera on the clip), Avegant Glyph, ODG R-7, Epson BT-300, Meta 2, Carl Zeiss smart eyewear prototype, Gear VR

That’s why we don’t intend to make our own display hardware at this point. Pretty much everyone is doing that, and it’s a separate and admittedly very challenging field. But you will need to see what’s around you, and we don’t want you to stare at tablets either – Phantom is primarily about immersive interaction. When the time comes, we’ll be able to suggest what works best with the dev kit based on our own experience.

Of course, we hope to be able to do even more. Many of the glasses on the market are still pretty costly, so we’ll do our best to make selected headsets available to our backers for very reasonable prices. With great community comes great responsibility, and also some negotiation power.

The Device To Run Phantom OS

So far, we have said very little about the actual device running the OS. That’s because it doesn’t matter so much at the moment. It will be an Android compatible phone or tablet with a CPU and GPU powerful enough to make sense of the sensory data and the 3D world around the user. We don’t care about the display, cameras, or extra features such as fingerprint scanners.

For a while, we’ve even been using Google’s Project Tango tablet repurposed with a simple 3D-printed head mount. This gave us a powerful GPU, a decent display, and all the sensors required for indoor use. Something along these lines might be a super cheap alternative for the immediate future, though it’s not very convenient and you may not want to look like this on the streets :) 

You'll be able to attach the clip for outdoor use even to your Oculus or Gear VR. There will be plenty of choices when we ship your dev kits. And again, we don’t want to leave you hanging with only half of what you really need. As with the glasses, we’ll talk to mobile companies and try to get you a cool deal on these devices, too. 

Join The Ride! 

Do you sometimes wonder what it must have been like when the first personal computers started taking off? Did you miss the first internet boom? Now something spectacular is happening again. And this time, you can be part of it. Join us and let’s make it happen!

Timing & Next Steps

There is a lot of hard work ahead of us and we won’t pretend we can deliver in a few months – we can’t. We’d like to start shipping first dev kits to our backers by mid 2017 and believe that’s realistic. As soon as we have more details, we’ll let you know. There’ll be plenty of updates.

You may be wondering what’s coming after the dev kits. With these you’ll be able to start working on your apps, and we can’t wait to see what you make. Together we’ll be moving towards the consumer version of the OS and the Cloud. There will be an app store where users can find your apps – that’s how you make money.

We are also going to work closely with headset makers to turn Phantom OS into the platform of choice for as many of them as we can. We believe they will soon realize this makes much more sense than creating fragmented platforms with limited capabilities.

With sleek glasses and the best possible optics, a powerful OS that users can actually control, and your amazing apps, we are kickstarting a whole new industry!

The Team

We are a group of skilled software and hardware professionals with extensive experience in various fields, now coming together in our biggest and most ambitious project to date. We are engineers and designers passionate about the possibilities of both virtual and augmented reality, which we believe will ultimately merge into one experience and change how we see the world around us. We imagine a future where humans and technology are much closer than today, yet we believe each paradigm shift must build on existing best practices and learn from the work of industry’s greatest minds.

The team has been fairly small so far but we’ve already accomplished a lot. If you think you can contribute and want to work on something that matters, join us.

Thanks for your support!

Risks and challenges

The task we set our hearts upon is enormous. Not only is making the hardware hard, making an operating system for a completely new platform is even more complex. Plenty of things can and will go wrong, but that’s what always happens. What’s important is how we overcome these obstacles, and we intend to fight hard for what we’re promising.

We are also competing with tech giants with virtually unlimited resources. Being a small startup, however, forces us to be really creative and efficient, to test our assumptions quickly, correct mistakes as they happen, and move forward much faster.

To minimize your risk, we are approaching you at a point where we are really sure everything you see here is doable and based on a strong foundation. There is indeed more research needed in certain areas, but we’re sure we are moving in the right direction.

There is always the risk of unforeseen challenges, and no one can accurately predict what happens down the road. That said, we are highly confident in our abilities and committed to making Augmented Reality on a massive scale finally happen.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    A Huge Thank You!

    Help us make augmented reality happen! You'll receive a sincere thank you from the Phantom team and we'll keep you up to date on all of our progress.

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    Phantom Poster

    A limited-edition Phantom AR poster, only available via Kickstarter. See the project description for a preview! (Please add $15 for international shipping)

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    Phantom T-Shirt

    A special edition t-shirt as proof you've been with us since the revolution began. Only available via Kickstarter! You'll also receive a sincere thank you from the Phantom team. (Men's and women's versions available; please add $15 for international shipping)

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    Phantom T-Shirt + Poster

    A limited edition t-shirt and poster, only available via Kickstarter. Check out the project description for a preview! (Please add $15 for international shipping)

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    Signed Phantom T-Shirt + Poster

    The limited edition Phantom AR t-shirt and poster, both signed by the entire Phantom team. (Please add $15 for international shipping)

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    Phantom Dev Kit – Super Early Bird

    Congrats! You are among the very first to receive full Phantom dev kit. But hurry up, these will be gone in a flash! (Please add $30 for international shipping)

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    Phantom Dev Kit - Early Bird

    Everything you'll need to get started with fully immersive augmented reality!
    - 1x Sensory clip with various mounts
    - 2x Phantom Touch controller
    - Phantom OS + access to Phantom Cloud
    - SDK, documentation, tutorials, support
    (Please add $30 for international shipping)

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    Pledge US$ 335 or more About US$ 335

    Phantom Dev Kit + T-Shirt + Poster

    A full developer kit, access to all developer resources, the t-shirt, and the poster, all in one exciting package! (Please add $30 for international shipping)

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    Signed Dev Kit + T-Shirt + Poster

    A full developer kit, access to all developer resources, the t-shirt, and the poster –– all in one exciting package and signed by the entire Phantom team! (Please add $30 for international shipping)

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    2x Phantom Dev Kit - Early Bird

    You will get two full dev kits and access to all our developer resources, SDK and examples. Perfect for small studios interested in getting to work on immersive AR apps immediately. (Please add $60 for international shipping)

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    3x Phantom Dev Kit - Early Bird

    You will get three full dev kits and access to all our developer resources, SDK and examples. Perfect for established or indie studios interested in getting to work on immersive AR apps immediately. (Please add $60 for international shipping)

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    5x Phantom Dev Kit - Early Bird

    You will get five full dev kits and access to all our developer resources, SDK and examples. Perfect for established or indie studios interested in getting to work on immersive AR apps immediately. (Please add $60 for international shipping)

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    Pledge US$ 3,000 or more About US$ 3,000

    STUDIO PACK: 10x Phantom Dev Kit

    Have a great idea, a team of developers and can't wait to get started? With this option you will get TEN full dev kits and early access to all our resources, Phantom OS, Phantom Cloud, SDK and examples. Perfect for the established studios looking for new big opportunities. You will also get extensive premium support of our engineers who will be happy to help your team get going. (Please add $60 for international shipping)

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    VISIT US FOR A DAY + All Of Above

    We'll fly you from anywhere in the US to our offices in California where you'll spend a day hanging out with the team and checking our latest progress with immersive Augmented Reality. You'll also receive a developer kit, access to all resources, the t-shirt, and the poster, all signed by the entire Phantom team. (Anyone can pledge but we can only provide tickets within the US, sorry!)

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Funding period

- (30 days)