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At the University of Tokyo, researchers have advanced the field of real-time projection mapping, creating a new system that can simulate the way light reflects off a nonexistent three-dimensional structure. The results are stunningly realistic and dynamic projection that heralds a new generation of trippy performance art.

The team has been slowly working for several years to develop all the independent components that make up this remarkably advanced system. First, a high-speed projector needed to be created allowing for 8-bit level images to be projected at up to 1,000 frames per second.

A 3D motion-tracking system was also developed, utilising 10 cameras able to map the movement of objects at high speed and recognise a degree of granular deformation in the mapped objects. An early example of the system was used to project an image onto a t-shirt. The projection recognised when the fabric was stretched and could mirror its output in real-time so it appeared as if the projected image was actually printed onto the clothing.

The team took things even further, adding a three-dimensional light mapping element to make the projection seem like a real 3D object reflecting light on to the object. The demonstration video (seen below) shows a variety of textures responding to movement in real-time, from metal that reflects a light source as if a spotlight is being shined on it, to a weird, uneven organic pattern that looks like it is an alien snake wrapped around a moving human body.

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