Left: The new hardware from Google - the Project Tango Tablet. Right: The embedded sensor of the Project Tango Tablet provides a point cloud of all objects in front of the camera sensor.

New Hardware from Google: Project Tango Tablet

Published Dec 12, 2014

New hardware arrived at the ARLab: a Google Project Tango tablet computer, which is a tablet computer with an embedded depth camera on the back as well as a regular RGB color camera. It contains customized hardware and software to track the full 3D motion of the device. The sensor makes more than a quarter million 3D measurements per second, allowing updates of the position and the orientation of the device in real-time to simultaneously create maps, and to generate 3D objects. Further information can be found at:


The ARLab will use this tablet computer for 3D object tracking research and augmented reality research. The tablet computer's software development kit provides a 3D point cloud of the environment in front of the camera. We will use this point cloud to track and identify objects. Our object identification and tracking software uses point clouds of the environment to find a particular physical part. We match the environment model with a reference model. The input from this tablet simplifies the work since we do not need to compute the point cloud on our own.


We will also develop an augmented reality application that uses point cloud object tracking. This application can be used for use cases, such as manual assembly and maintenance.


Return to the website in the future for updates, as we will regularly post all news about the development.

Top: The point cloud as it is visualized using a demo software.

Rafael Radkowski appointed as Associate Editor

Published Dec 03, 2014

Rafael Radkowski was appointed as Associated Editor of the International Journal of the Digital Human. IJDH publishes original research in all fields of the digital human such as modelling, simulation, anatomy, physiology visualisation, animation, product/workplace design, biomechanics, biomedical engineering and interaction with humans.


The journal considers application-oriented and theoretical papers, literature reviews, papers on methodology and procedures, and experimental research results. Four issues are published every year.


Radkowski’s duties as Associated Editor incorporate editing of special issues, maintaining connection to conferences and the research communities, as well as developing the journal’s visibility.

SAE 2014 Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Technologies Symposium

Published Dec 03, 2014

Rafael Radkowski was invited to speak on the SAE 2014 Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Technologies Symposium in Detroit, Michigan on November 18 & 19, 2014. The symposium focused AR and VR use cases in areas such as aerospace, automotive, marine, and commercial vehicle industries. It mainly addresses users from the industry who report about their AR/VR experiences, challenges and success stories, as well as researchers in the area of AR and VR.


Radkowski’s talk, with the title “Augmented Reality Research in Product Development and Manufacturing”, covered a large range of research projects and his experiences as a researcher working closely with industrial collaborators, especially in the automotive and aerospace industry. A “lesson learned” from a researcher’s point-of-view that was well acknowledged by the audience.


The symposium is an annual meeting organized and hosted by SAE International, the Society of Automotive Engineers, a U.S.-based professional association and standards organization for engineering professionals.


Additional information to this symposium can be found on:

Left: All visitors enjoyed the off-the-shelf 3D scanning technology to create 3D models of their friends. Right: Jarid Ingebrand explains how the 3D tracking and scanning application works.

FLL Meet the Experts Expo

Published Oct 27, 2014

We participated in the First Lego League Meet the Experts Expo, hosted at Iowa State University on Saturday, October 4th. Meet the Experts Expo brings together researchers and the next generation of engineers.


Middle school and high school students have the opportunity to get in touch with researchers, to ask questions, and to gain first-hand experience with the latest technology. The kids could test a tracking and 3D scanning application on an iPad and did not get tired to scan their friends to create 3D models of them.


The goal of the entire activity is to inspire the youth, to help them collect new ideas, and to encourage them to attend a STEM program, after they finish high school.

Tim Garrett during the tracking experiments in the ARLab, testing the capabilities of newly developed 3D point cloud matching algorithm. Garrett is a graduate research assistant at Iowa State working on his master thesis focusing on 3D object tracking.


Published Oct 27, 2014

Tim Garrett attended the ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conference & Computer & Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE) on August 17-20 in Buffalo, New York and presented two publications to the community.


One paper addresses Tim's research topic, object tracking. The paper introduces a method for 3D rigid object tracking and results of research that explores the feasibility for mesh generation methods to reconstruct object details from tracking data. Today's camera technology does not facilitate to detect the details on objects required in engineering applications. The approach is to accumulate this data in a 3D mesh model to increase the fidelity.


The second paper introduces the results of an REU research team that compared different natural feature tracking descriptors and their feasibility to represent spatial objects. The students conducted simulations to identify the feature descriptor that meets the requirements of 3D objects.


Dr. Radkowski was co-chair of the Virtual Environments and Systems (VES) Symposium, a part of the conference. The VES symposium hosted five sessions with 24 publications which addressed the topics augmented and virtual reality, object tracking, interaction/haptics, and gaming, all with a focus on applications in engineering design, development, and manufacturing. In addition, two panel sessions have been organized: one with a focus on low-cost devices, the second addressed gaming. Next year, Dr. Radkowski is chair of the VES symposium.


The publications:

Garrett, Timothy; Debernardis, Saverio; Radkowski, Rafael; Chang, Carl K.; Fiorentino, Michele; Uva, Antonio E.; Oliver, James, "Rigid-Object Tracking for Real-Time Augmented Reality,," Proceedings of the ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE 2014, August17-20, 2014, Buffalo, NY


Bermudez, Francely Franco; Santana Diaz, Christian; Ward, Sheneeka; Radkowski, Rafael; Garrett, Timothy; Oliver, James, "Comparison of Natural Feature Descriptors for Rigid-Object Tracking for Real-Time Augmented Reality," Proceedings of the ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE 2014, August17-20, 2014, Buffalo, NY

Left: The Fountain of the Four Seasons located on the north side of the Memorial Union at Iowa State during the fall. Top: Howe Hall on Iowa State's campus, home of ARLab and VRAC.

Welcome to ISU

Published Oct 27, 2014

Dr. Radkowski joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University as Assistant Professor this August. He completed his undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Paderborn in Germany with an emphasis on digital product development; he graduated in 2003 with the first class honors. He was a scholarship holder at the graduate school "Automatic Reconfiguration in Open Systems" at the Heinz Nixdorf Institute from 2003 to 2006.


Computer vision-based tracking for augmented reality applications was the core of his studies. He received his doctoral degree (with honors) from the University of Paderborn in 2006. After he graduated, he became an acting leader of a research group in the research team of Prof. Gausemeier at the Heinz Nixdorf Institute. From 2012 to 2014, he worked as research fellow at the Virtual Reality Applications Center at Iowa State University under the direction of Prof. James Oliver.


Dr. Radkowski's research interests address two areas of augmented reality technology: object recognition and human-computer-interaction for the engineering applications with focus on object identification, tracking, pattern matching, and gesture/posture detection. His works relies on computer vision and includes fundamental research to explore the capabilities of methods such as Iterative Closest Points and Texture-feature matching for engineering use cases as well as applied research.


Use cases for his research are manual assembly assistance, visual inspection, and virtual design reviews. Results of his research have been applied at companies such as Volkswagen, Rockwell Collins, and Boeing.

About Us


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The Augmented Reality Lab explores the augmented reality (AR) technology and its capabilities for engineering applications.

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