Watch AyaBambi Distort Reality In This Unreal Face-Hacking Video

“Nice face. I’d like to wear it sometime.” No, it’s not a Valentine’s Day card from Buffalo Bill. But it might be an icebreaker in 2020.

If you’ve had a bad face day, you can usually keep up appearances on social media thanks to the magical filters of Snapchat and Instagram. If you’re having a really bad case of the fugs, you can just face-swap yourself with your favorite movie star and call it quits. That’s all well and good from the privacy and solitude of your own bed, but when it comes to heading out into the real world, the closest thing to a real-life filter was a good concealer.

But now, thanks to an innovative dream team from Tokyo, IRL Snapchat filters are real. Sort of.

From Haunted Rides To Kat Von D

Projection mapping at Disneyland, 1969

Projection mapping at Disneyland, 1969 | Source

The practice has moonlighted under a few aliases, including “spatial augmented reality” and gruesome-sounding “face-hacking.” But it’s commonly known as projection mapping. In short, the practice involves projecting an image onto a non-flat surface. The earliest adopter of projection mapping was none other than Disney, which first used projection mapping at the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland way back in 1969. It’s been used on-and-off since then with limited success. But the capabilities of projection mapping have always been pretty basic … up until now.

WOW labs, helmed by CGI-expert Nobumichi Asai, has been working on an advanced method of projection mapping for the last few years.

So, what is it?

Asai’s projection mapping uses specialized software to track a surface in motion, while a custom-built projector alters the image to adjust to the subject’s movements. The results are a seamless and high-definition projection that works in tandem with the face. For instance, say you wanted to project a zombie mask onto a model. If the model moved, the mask would move with them — without distorting or losing quality. It gives the appearance of a CGI effect in real life.

In 2015, Kat Von D used projection mapping software to promote her new collection of makeup at Sephora. The projection mapping used was 240 frames per second (fps).

The latest production from Asai uses a projector that uses 1,000 fps — the fastest in the world. The results speak for themselves:

WOW studios partnered with the University of Tokyo and TOKYO production studios to create the stunning performance video, which clocks in at just over a minute long.

In order to accommodate Asai’s CGI technology, the DynaFlash projector was custom-built by the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory at the University of Tokyo. This 8-bit, 1000 fps projector uses state-of-the art technology to keep up with the movements of the human body. Check out this side-by-side comparison between a standard projector and the DynaFlash.

WOW, TOKYO, and the creators of DynaFlash collaborated with iconic dance duo, AyaBambi, to create this stunning video performance, which shows off the capabilities of face hacking software. It’s unreal.

 

The Uncertain Future Of Face Hacking

Morphing your face into something straight out of Samara Morgan’s home movie collection might be fun for now, but the possibilities of face hacking are electrifying.

As tech continues to get smaller and more portable, it’s easy to imagine projection mapping software being added to a wearable tech device. Magic Leap might fill up your local watering hole with mythical creatures, but face hacking could turn every habitué into Harrison Ford or Marilyn Monroe.

We’re already beginning to explore the ethical implications of “face borrowing.”

Rogue One presented us with Grand Moff Tarkin, even though actor Peter Cushing died in 1994. It also gave us a fresh-faced Carrie Fisher, although CGI isn’t advanced enough yet to defer the effects of “uncanny valley” — the tendency for the human eye to reject almost-human replicas.

But if we could switch up our faces as easily as we can change our Snapchat filters, will we have to license our own looks to stop copycats from borrowing our features? And is it okay to borrow someone’s face, especially if they’re dead?

Non-celebrities don’t often think about things like licensing your looks, but our faces are being collected every day through mediums like Snapchat and Facebook. In the user terms of Snapchat, it writes that is has:

“Worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display” any content you upload to the app, “in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)”

American property law dictates that your likeness can’t be used without your consent. But thanks to the murky ‘tap here’ terms and conditions of companies like Snapchat, you’ve probably already given your consent. Imagine your surprise if one day you walked into a bar, to find someone else wearing your face. Or — if you want to take the Black Mirror approach to it — the face of your dead relative.

Snapchat’s faceswap filter | Source

By sticking to shadowy constellations and embracing eerie distortions, AyaBambi’s performance avoids deep philosophical questions such as those, while providing a mesmerizing example of how projection mapping can be used. At the moment, the technology has both feet firmly planted in the art world. But it raises a myriad of interesting questions about what will happen when technology allows us to change our appearance with the ease of a Snapchat filter.

The Internet Can’t Decide If This Hoverbike Belongs In Star Wars Or Final Destination

It might not jam a comlink or come with a blaster cannon, but you can still live out your fantasies of cruising through the forest on a 74-Z speeder bike thanks to Russian start-up, Hoversurf.

Star Wars fans collectively experienced spasms of joy when a video featuring the first commercially manned hoverbike hit YouTube in mid-February. Since then, the video has garnered over a million views. The Scorpion-3 hoverbike is equipped with four drone propellers, powerful enough to blast both quadcopter and pilot to an altitude of 33 feet.

via GIPHY

This isn’t the first hoverbike to survive a maiden voyage with a human pilot. British hobbyist, Colin Furze, is still the first man to take to the skies on a hoverbike, which is even more remarkable considering he built said bike in his garage. A joy to behold, it was also a one-off and not geared towards the mass market.

Enter Hoversurf with the Scorpion-3, the first hoverbike available for sale — although it’ll set you back a staggering $150,000.

This jumbo-sized quadcopter is built for the adrenaline junkie, although thrill seekers may be disappointed to discover that the in-built safety system automatically regulates the height and speed of your ride.

Half-drone, half-motorbike, the Scorpion-3 can carry up to 266 pounds and reach speeds of 33 mph. With a maximum airtime of 27 minutes, it’s not going to take you on a cross-country tour, but it’s one hell of a way to make an entrance.

Not everybody is ready to throw their regular bike into the trash compactor just yet. “So this is what a human juicer looks like,” mused one user on Twitter, presumably after noticing the lack of propeller guards separating the human passenger from the rather deadly-looking propellers.

via GIPHY

Both The Verge and Mashable were having none of it.

“World’s first hoverbike looks cool as hell, but will probably kill you” announced the Verge. Mashable was more succinct: “Whatever you do, don’t fall off.”

Although Hoversurf may need to integrate more safety features before everyone is a convert, the Scorpion-3 is just one of many exciting new hovercraft prototypes that have cropped up recently.

JTARV

As the US military is wont to do, they’re already light-years ahead when it comes to hoverbike technology. The Army Research Laboratory unveiled a flying quadcopter in early January, known as a joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle, or JTARV for short.

The JTARV is longer, sleeker, and admittedly more of an aerial BAMF than any other hovercraft on the market. But Star Wars wasn’t so much the inspiration for the JTARV as…Amazon Prime?

Tim Vong, associate chief of ARL’s Protection Division likened the JTARV to “Amazon on the battlefield.”

“Anywhere on the battlefield, Soldiers can potentially get resupplied in less than 30 minutes,” he said.

The JTARV prototype is currently electric, but researchers are already exploring utilizing a hybrid propulsion system which would spearhead a faster and more powerful hoverbike, capable of carrying 800 pounds and travelling up to 125 miles.

“We’re also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We’re looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions.” Vong told visitors from the Department of Defense.

EHang 184

So when can we expect to see a fleet of drones travelling across the skies? If you live in Dubai, it could be as soon as July.

The EHang 184 will be the world’s first autonomous air vehicle (AAV) used as an air taxi. Come July, Dubai expects to have its first fleet of AAV taxis taking flight across the city, and alleviating some of the city’s traffic woes in the process.

Much like calling for an Uber, you’ll use an app to request this egg-shaped quadcopter, which can accommodate one passenger and a small suitcase weighing up to 220 pounds. After you’ve strapped yourself in, you’ll simply enter your destination on a touch screen display and the EHang will self-pilot through the skies to your destination. It can stay in the air for 30 minutes and has a range of 31 miles.

If the concept of a self-driving car makes you wince, you’re unlikely to feel comforted by the idea of combining self-driving technology with heights. But EHang assures potential passengers that the aircraft is totally safe. According to their website, if the power system starts behaving abnormally, the EHang can still operate a normal flight plan. If anything malfunctions, the AAV will automatically land in the nearest available area.

BMW Lego Bike

Hoversurf put the first pilot on a hoverbike, but BMW and Lego are hot on their heels with their own hoverbike, that looks much safer than the Scorpion-3. Designed by students using Lego,

The concept impressed BMW enough to build a full-sized replica. Sadly, it’s still a concept, although from the video below, it looks like the slickest model of the lot.

When you look at emerging hoverbike technology, do you see:

  1. Your other Star Wars fantasy coming true
  2. A grim, painful way to die
  3. All of the above

Let us know in the comments! And if you liked this post, be sure to check out the time a water ski company and YouTube celebrity recreated the speeder-bike scene on a lake.

Header Image Courtesy of Hoversurf

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