Future Beauty: Cosmoray AR

Cosmoray is an experimental drone for AR that traverses the boundaries of mixed reality in the context of self-image. It manipulates physical light source and transfers lighting and environment data into AR filters.

Independent project, 2020

New dimensions to AR

As society continues to trend towards immaculate beauty standards, we’re observing a clashing view emerge, in which imperfection and rawness is celebrated. The definition of beauty is increasingly becoming innate and up for interpretation. Some are worn out from the constant pursuit of perfection and are looking to embrace individualism and wildness instead. It’s about radical self-reliance, as the notion of self-expression overshadows the conformist ideals of beauty. While there’s a pervasive feeling of futility, human ingenuity helped uncover creative ways to find meaning. Augmented reality is a medium that brings forth a new perspective to aid in this search. AR has turned everyday bodies into expressive landscapes. It transcends physical and mental constraints. It introduces fantastical and surreal visions of ourselves, not as the perfect version, but as new identities on top of our authentic selves. These cultivated personas are reimagining beauty and identity, and fundamentally redefining how we see ourselves and others. How might we ride on this trajectory to broaden the possibilities of self-image?

AR is ever-evolving and has elevated from consumption to creation in the past five years. In 2019, the popularity of AR face filters surged as apps like Spark AR studio took creation mainstream. 3D makeup artists emerged at the forefront of this movement. Then, in 2020, COVID-19 jolted AR expressions out of pure leisure and into business and commerce via Snap Camera, Zoom, and other videoconferencing platforms. Data shows that even under dire circumstances, people continue looking for ways to express themselves and to be seen.

We continue to widen the scope of AR and AR filters in the context of beauty and identity, but limited AR solutions in the market constraints new experiences. To allow more people to traverse between physical and digital world, we need to activate new AR-specialized devices beyond projectors, AR glasses, and smartphones. Recent indicators are signaling that we are seeing imageries from new dimensions.

Cosmoray is an AR concept device that takes on a drone form factor. It leverages an AI driven light-source and a 3D scanner. Cosmoray manipulates the physical light source through “Light Sculpting,” while capturing data about the subject at the same time. Through “Hyper-wear,” it enhances digital filters through context-aware parameters. Cosmoray rethinks the possibilities of photo and video-taking, by making physical worlds more surreal, and digital worlds more authentic – it traverses between the two worlds. The capability of seamless interplay between these two dimensions will bring new possibilities to self-image.

From single vantage to omni-directional illumination and capture

Cosmoray omni-directional vision

Cosmoray is derived from “cosmic rays”, a natural phenomenon in which high energy particles from outer space, traveling at the speed of light, is beamed at the Earth’s atmosphere. In like manner, Cosmoray hovers around the subject and projects light onto it.

Cosmoray functionally consists of input and output purposes. Its input takes into consideration lighting projection and image capture. As a by-product of its input function, Cosmoray will beam lights from all angles. It can be considered as like natural light, but better. It’s a light that has the knowledge of lighting. It’s also after-the-fact lighting, just to capture as you like, and adjust later. Its output is taking from a filter to a digital accessory that is contextually aware and has presence in physics. It more accurately renders the digital artifact onto the person, to include shadow, depth-of-field, and reflections.

Light Sculpting
Manipulates physical light by lighting
and capturing images of the subject
from 360 degrees of drone flight

Enhances digital filters by adding
environment HDR map and light sources
from captured data of drone flight

Cosmoray AR demo of Light Sculpting (left) and Hyper-Wear (right); model: Bella Bolaji

Design inspired by duality

The drone’s industrial design is influenced by the notion of duality, where two contrasting elements relies on each other for either to exist. Cosmoray realizes the antithesis between physical and virtual. Of authenticity and fantastical. Its singular inner body represents robustness and assurance, and it makes up its operating system, lighting, and propeller units. Its sinuous outer body alludes to movement and emotions, and it houses the cameras and sensors, as well as the protective shell and landing feet. The stark contrast of the two forms create a new visual language. One of softness and strength, of smoothness and textures, and of lightness and robustness.

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