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Universitat Pompeu Fabra

AR Magic Lantern

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

AR Magic Lantern

The AR Magic Lantern is an open-source augmented reality flashlight that enables users to see and interact with virtual content projected onto physical surfaces around them. It is designed especially to support group-oriented, co-located, and situated AR experiences.

A group of visitors at the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA) share an interactive experience with the AR Magic Lantern (ARML), an augmented reality flashlight.

Shared AR Experiences

Projected content is truly a part of the physical space and is thus relevant for all members of a group. Nobody is left out of the experience.

6-DoF Inside-out Tracking

The AR Magic Lantern tracks its position and orientation over large areas, making it suitable for sites that cannot use external markers or beacons.
Two MUHBA visitors explore a dark area of an exhibit with the ARML. On the pillar in front of them, the projection from the ARML shows a Roman boy hanging laundry.
Detail photo of the AR Magic Lantern, showing the microphone, button, haptic vibration, and programmable LEDs.

Multi-modal Interaction

Users can interact with ARML applications using gestures, a button, and voice commands. Programmable illumination and haptic vibration facilitate feedback that enriches the interaction with projected content.

World-as-Support: A new paradigm for AR

Digital content is projected as a layer on top of physical surroundings, locating the place for interaction in the world, not on a screen.




AR Magic Lantern



Smartphone AR

Head-mounted AR


HoloLens, Magic Leap, etc.


Physical world as focus
physical world is primary source of meaning


Screen as focus
physical world is behind the barrier (digital divider) of a screen


Partial world as focus
physical world is digitized or dimmed



all members of the group can participate


only device holders can participate


only device wearers can participate



Embodied interaction
device holders and non-holders interact with full body


Screen interaction
device holders interact with finger on a screen


Mixed interaction
device wearers interact with fingers, hands, gestures, etc.



Non-invasive & non-obstructive
device is handheld and doesn't block user's visual field


Non-invasive, obstructive
device is handheld but blocks user's visual field (digital divider)


Invasive & obstructive
device must be worn, frame and content block user's visual field



Torch metaphor
for centuries, humans have used light to explore spaces


Frame metaphor
user is holding a video screen that frames the world


Expanded vision metaphor
user is wearing technology to expand their senses


AR Design Research @FubIntLab

Starting with the World-as-Support AR paradigm in 2015, the AR Magic Lantern is the product of ongoing research conducted by the Full-Body Interaction Lab at Universitat Pompeu Fabra.


Hine, P., Tadesse Mamo, L., & Pares, N. (2022, April). AR Magic Lantern: Group-based Co-Located Augmentation Based on the World-as-Support AR Paradigm. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts (CHI ’22).

Schaper, Marie-Monique; Santos, Maria; Malinverni, Laura; Zerbini Berro, Juan; Pares, Narcis. (2018) Learning about the past through situatedness, embodied exploration and digital augmentation of cultural heritage sites. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 2018; 114( ): 36-50.

Schaper, Marie-Monique; Santos, Maria; Pares, Narcís. (2018) Orchestrating experts' assumptions and children's values in the design of Virtual Heritage experiences. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction 2018.

Marie-Monique Schaper, Maria Santos, Laura Malinverni and Narcis Pares. (2017). Co-Designing Virtual Heritage Experiences for Archaeological Sites based on the novel AR Paradigm World-as-Support. ACM Celebration of Women in Computing, WomENcourage Conference 2017.

Marie-Monique Schaper, Maria Santos, Laura Malinverni and Narcis Pares. (2017). Towards the Design of a Virtual Heritage Experience based on the World-as-Support Interaction Paradigm. In Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’17).

Malinverni L, Maya J, Schaper MM, Pares N. The World-as-Support: Embodied Exploration, Understanding and Meaning-Making of the Augmented World. In: Gloria Mark, Susan Fussell. CHI EA '17 Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 1 ed. ACM; 2017. p. 5132-5144.

Where are we going?

With funding from Horizon Europe, the Full-Body Interaction Lab will develop the AR Magic Lantern into a production-ready prototype and focus on the following key objectives:


Develop a sophisticated computer vision system that adapts to large, dynamic environments and requires no special mapping hardware or external tracking.


Build a robust and integrated hardware prototype using state of the art vision and projector components.


Build a development platform for experience designers wanting to deploy novel AR applications that are truly useful in public spaces.


Publish a comprehensive resource library for the World-as-Support paradigm, including documentation, open-source code, and useful samples and case studies.

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