COPYING an expert is a great way to learn. But with an augmented reality system named Ghostman, the only person you need to look at while learning is yourself.
To use the system, a student and teacher both wear pairs of glasses containing cameras that can track the wearers’ movements while they carry out a task. The teacher’s feed is sent to the student’s glasses, so learners can see skilled movements laid over their own in a ghostly real-time image.
“Essentially, you become the person and show them from inside, from their own viewpoint,” says Winyu Chinthammit, at the University of Tasmania in Australia, who led the research.
Using Ghostman, Chinthammit and his colleagues taught six people to use chopsticks. People who trained with the glasses made as much progress as a group who learned the old-fashioned way. In a simple task, the two groups moved equally quickly and made about the same number of mistakes.
Despite the limited result, Chinthammit and colleagues think Ghostman could one day be useful for people in remote areas who need physiotherapy.
The system is an “exciting first step in quantifying the promise of augmented reality”, says Mark Bolas at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. The work is due to be published in BioMed Research International.