ATLANTIS: Diminished Reality has as much power as Augmented Reality.

Petros Drakoulis. Fotocredit: Certh

An international team from Austria, Sweden and Greece is working on the research project ATLANTIS to develop an innovative authoring tool.
It has the potential to radically change the way we design our living spaces. We asked Petros Drakoulis, research-assistant at CERTH, to give us a short update from CERTH‘s point of view.

10 Januar, 2022


Mr. Drakoulis, can you please give us a brief overview of where the ATLANTIS project currently stands?
The ATLANTIS project is currently at a quite mature stage. We have prototypes of the tools involved, as well as users’ feedback, and now it’s time to improve the system’s usability and user’s experience.

What is CERTH‘s role in this project, or what strengths does Certh bring to the project?
CERTH has a strong background in machine learning for computer vision, and new technologies for the embedding of computer generated content within traditional media. We have experience in the field of panoramic-imagery AI and the online deployment of services, something that adds to the potential of the project’s envelope. Hence, we are responsible for developing the AI cloud services that are used by the ATLANTIS authoring tool as backbone for some of its functionality. 

What has your research revealed so far? Is there a lot of interest? 
As with all European projects, big part lies in delving into the scientific literature, understanding the state of the art and then try to go one step beyond. For ATLANTIS, this journey proved to be especially exciting since we aim for practical solutions, readily applicable to an every-day problem. So, while the science involved is top-notch, the practical aspect of the outcome acts surprisingly incentively.

Who are the potential users? 
ATLANTIS potential users include interior designers, manufacturers and retailers of furniture and home decoration, companies planning or providing renovation of residences, offices and retail spaces and, of course, the general public, which will experience a new level of personalized services.

Please tell us more about the planned authoring tool!
The authoring tool will be in the form of a mobile / tablet application. By using the device’s camera, the user will be able to capture his room of interest and interact with it. He may browse the catalogue and select new pieces to place inside his environment, navigate around them and perceive their volume in real size. To achieve state of the art performance despite the limited mobile resources, the application needs to make use of cloud AI services, offloading much of the processing burden to them; something that falls under our responsibility. 

What if in the place where the piece of furniture is to be placed, there is already something else?
We use Diminished Reality! Diminished Reality has as much power as Augmented Reality. For example, it’s useful to use AR to virtually place a new chair, side table or work of art into a room, but unless you’re starting with an empty room, physical objects can get in the way of assimilating the intended sense of presence. With DR, users are able to digitally remove unwanted objects from their premises, getting an even more realistic view of how potential purchases will fit within their spaces. 

What is the challenge here? 
Consider the case where a user saves his arrangement to resume later and closes the app. When he resumes, he will be most likely standing at a different location and if it is to project the furniture correctly, the application must somehow find out where this new view exists in the original scene. This is not something trivial to tackle in real time using solely visual cues, as in our case. 

What are the next steps in the project now?
We are in the phase of finalizing the integration of our solutions into the authoring tool and begin to perform the needed user experience evaluations, that will guide the refinement of our software towards its final deployment. 

What interests or excites you personally in particular about ATLANTIS?
Most people find it difficult to renovate a house or to choose furniture, simply because they cannot envision what the result may look like. ATLANTIS builds upon the latest advances in Deep Learning for AR and DR, enabling users to experience unique realistic realizations of their interior design plans. Technology is meant to make people’s lives easier and that’s exactly what ATLANTIS achieves, when it comes to creating ones’ dream home. I am really excited to participate in this innovative project and I look forward to sharing its accomplishments with end-users!

Thank you for the interview!