Lightform is the first computer made for projected augmented reality, also known as projection mapping. By connecting Lightform to any video projector, you can quickly scan complex scenes and turn any object into a screen. It’s augmented reality without the headset.
The device uses computer vision to 3D scan its environment, then wirelessly transmits the data to our desktop app. The app uses this data to automatically generate effects and filters, so you can quickly create compelling projection mapped content. When things move, Lightform uses vision to keep content aligned. This finally makes it possible to permanently install projection installations quickly and easily.
We are announcing
Our team combines years of projection mapping experience ranging from large scale entertainment experiences to PhD research experiments. We’ve developed theme park rides at Disney Imagineering, designed software behind Bot & Dolly’s Box, mapped building facades at Obscura, and created immersive AR prototypes IllumiRoom and RoomAlive at Microsoft Research. We also run the most popular blog on projection mapping, featuring community submissions from around the world.
Today, projection mapping is usually limited to big budget productions like product launches, sporting events, and theater performances. It requires teams of experienced artists and technicians using expensive tools to make these events happen.
Lightform uses advanced computer vision to eliminate complexity in the projection mapping process. We want to democratize the medium so it can be used anywhere across film, art, education, cultural exhibits, events, signage, home entertainment, weddings, seasonal decor, theater, dance, and more.
Projection mapping involves a complicated workflow with multiple pieces of advanced software. Each step – from initial scanning, to 3D animation, to on-site calibration – requires a different artist or technician (usually teams of them). Lightform offers the first end-to-end workflow for projection mapping, making it possible for a single user to 3D scan, create content, and deploy an installation in one sitting.
The workflow benefits experienced designers and novices alike. By leveraging computer vision, we automate tedious steps such as as object segmentation and projector calibration, while assisting in the more fun process of content creation. When starting the Lightform app, you are immediately presented with 3D information as opposed to a blank screen. We use that info to drive AI-generated effects and real-time filters which users can quickly integrate into their projects. The experience is designed around one explicit goal: quickly turn 3D scans of the real world into compelling motion content.
With mapping, the second major issue is alignment. Things inevitably move in the real world, and even slight shifts in the set or projector alignment can noticeably ruin the effect. It currently requires tedious clicking around in clunky software to re-align the video. This is why you typically don’t see projection mapped installations outside of temporary events.
Lightform utilizes the latest computer vision techniques to automate the re-alignment process, letting the user focus on more on the installation and less on the technical execution. We believe that when paired with a long life, low maintenance LED or laser projector, Lightform will finally make permanent projection installations a reality.
We see projected AR becoming an integral part of architecture and interiors. As projectors are rapidly shrinking in size and increasing in brightness, projectors will eventually become as ubiquitous as light fixtures. Projectors will be small and bright enough to be installed like traditional lighting, simultaneously capable of standard illumination and high-resolution information display. This ubiquitous projection-as-lighting will can enhance or create art, signage, decor, and interactive displays.
Lightform is announcing $2.6M in seed funding from Lux Capital and Seven Seas Partners, along with angel investors including the former principal scientist at Oculus, Steve LaValle, and the National Science Foundation.