What is projection mapping?

Projection Mapping is a new creative medium where video projectors are used to bring everyday objects to life. Normally, video projectors are used to display images on flat, white screens (e.g. watching a movie, viewing a PowerPoint). Projection mapping displays images on non-flat, (possibly non-white) surfaces.

More formally, projection mapping is ”the display of an image on an arbitrarily complex surface”.

As discussed in our Illustrated History of Projection Mapping, projection mapping has many alternate names including the original academic term “spatial augmented reality” and “video mapping.”

Projection mapping can be used for advertising, live concerts, theater, gaming, computing, decoration and anything else you can think of. Specialized software or just some elbow grease can be used to align the virtual content and the physical objects. For more information see our Software sections.

Projection mapping can be used on buildings to advertise, entertain or inform.

555 KUBIK | facade projection from urbanscreen on Vimeo.

Projection mapping can be used to create immersive experiences for theater, television or in the home.

 Sony’s PlayStation 3 Ads

Projection mapping can bring everyday objects to life (like shoes).

Or cars…

Projection mapping can be used on 2D objects like paintings.

Cityscape 2095 + interview from Yannick Jacquet (Legoman) on Vimeo.

Finally projection mapping can be used for games.

Build Your World and Play In It: Interacting with Surface Particles on Complex Objects (ISMAR 2010) from Augmented Engineering on Vimeo.

These are just a couple of random examples from a rapidly growing form of new media. See the blog for hundreds more examples.

As a PhD student, I research, design and prototype novel ways to augment our physical environment with video projectors ("projection mapping"). I've worked for Walt Disney Imagineering and Microsoft Research and I've created things like IllumiRoom.