Real-Life TARDIS Uses Augmented Reality
TechCrunch Editor Greg Kumparak says he quit his job to “build awesome things.” On Thanksgiving, he had some time to kill and decided to build a model of the TARDIS, the time travel machine from Doctor Who.

“I had been watching a crazy ridiculous totally reasonable amount of Doctor Who that week, so it took all of about nine seconds before my brain settled on building a TARDIS,” Kumparak blogged. “It’s fairly simple structurally, so it seemed like a good afternoon project.

Real-Life TARDIS (phone box)Then Kumparak had a familiar epiphany: it’s bigger on the inside. He realized that he could accomplish this seemingly impossible task by creating a virtual interior via augmented reality (AR). Unfortunately, the AR marker that tells the computer-generated image where to appear doesn’t work on non-flat surfaces like the TARDIS door and sign on the door was too small, so he made a removable door that reveals a “big timey-wimey space-warp-lookin’ marker.” When viewed through a smartphone it shows the TARDIS console room circa 2005-2010.

A technique called “depth masking” was used to render the entire interior but hide any portions that extend beyond the doorway so that 3D model appears to be inside the TARDIS regardless of the viewing angle.

Kumparak says a papercraft version may be in the future.