Georgia Tech’s Spring 2011 Crop of Games – Nerds, Puppies and Asteroids

It was only five months ago when we reported about the first set of mobile augmented reality games coming out of Qualcomm Augmented Reality Game Studio. The studio, a partnership between Qualcomm and Georgia Tech’s Augmented Environments Lab, gives students the tools to create AR games and gives us a peek their crazy ideas. Now, a new crop of games is out of the studio’s doors, and here are my favorites:

Dodger Dodger is a simple game where you are tasked with escaping falling asteroids. This game smartly harnesses the mobile platform to add another dimension to the game. Not only does the player needs to move left and right, he also needs to move the phone back and forth in order to avoid the asteroids:

Nerdherder is obviously the bastard step child of last semaster’s Nerdferno. Instead of dodging asteroids, you need to avoid eye contact with girls in this one:

The goal of Puppy Plus is to teach your child basic math skills using a cute puppy living on a deserted island, surrounded by pirate ships. It makes perfect sense, trust me:

You can read more about these games and others coming out this spring on Qualcomm AR game studio site; Don’t miss the narwal safe sex guide.

Weekly Augmented Reality Linkfest

To my many readers coming from Japan – my heart goes to you, and I hope your families are safe. It’s difficult to discuss “augmented reality” in the face of “tragic reality”, but I’ll do my best with this week’s linkfest.

This week’s video is a call for help to create the first crowed sourced AR music video. Led by students of Tokyo’s Temple University, fans of the British band Songdog are invited to contribute their own clips featuring an AR marker. According to their site (where you can find more details) “Augmented Reality is used to symbolize all that one can remember, but that is lost forever – you can see it, but you can’t touch it”. A beautiful idea that I hope will come true in spite of the unexpected challenges facing it.

Have a good week!

Weekly Augmented Reality Linkfest

You’ve been waiting for this the whole week – here’s the weekly linkfest:

Only a few weeks ago, we reported on Virtual Master Reel, an augmented reality game whose aim was catching virtual fish with an augmented fishing reel. Seems that augmented reality fishing games are trending right now, because Nintendo got one for its Nintendo 3ds platform. Video doesn’t do it justice, because the whole 3d display thingy is lost, but it still looks good. You can read more about the planned AR games for 3ds on Wired.

have a fantastic week!

Weekly Augmented Reality Linkfest

As always, here the augmented reality news stories and tidbits, I didn’t have the time (or will) to cover this week:

This week’s video is a neat meshup between the insanely successful indie computer game Minecraft and augmented reality, by one Scott Kronick (or at least I think that is his name). Kronick, an artist by trade, came to the realization that it would be great “to hack away at and modify your city or school made of cubes”. The result is “RealCraft”:

Have a nice week!

New Yearly Linkfest

As you may have guessed this passing week was very slow in augmented reality news (or any news for that matter). Nevertheless, I scoured the web and bring you this weekly linkfest.

What a better way to start the new year than playing a round of augmented golf? That’s exactly what the students at Rochester Institute of Technology thought when they came up with this game that doesn’t require an entire fairway.

have a happy new yeAR!

Nerdferno and 2 Other Augmented Reality Games from Georgia Tech

In late June, the establishment of Qualcomm Augmented Reality Game Studio was announced, a partnership between Qualcomm and Georgia Tech’s Augmented Environments Lab, with the goal of “pioneering new advancements in mobile gaming and interactive media“. Six months later, the first crop of mobile based games is coming out of the studio, and this blogger is far from disappointed.

Shotgun Showdown is a two players western styled shooting game which utilizes two $20 bills as an arena/required marker. I wonder whether the winner takes both bills.

If you thought that tracking dollar bills was original, than get ready for Volcano Fever, a game that uses condom wrappers as a marker. It’s more than just a weird artistic choice by the game designer. The goal of Volcano Fever is to teach proper condom use.

I understand the volcano metaphor, but what’s the octopus supposed to symbolize? … Anyway, next is, as promised, Nerdferno, a game that puts you in a God like position, determining the fate of cubicle dwellers. If you looked for original AR content, you’ve found it:

You can read more about these games and others, such as Spintopia and Bug Juice, on the studio’s website, and about previous AR games from Georgia Tech here.

Weekly Linkfest – The Justin Bieber Edition

This linkfest has nothing to do with Justin Bieber, and everything to do with augmented reality news bites from the last week. I’m just checking if the mere inclusion of Mr. Bieber in the title will generate more hits.

This week’s video is a promotion video for Sekai Camera. Tonchidot, the company behind this veteran AR browser recently got a $5M from Japan’s telecom giant KDDI (though some claim that KDDI actually bought Tonchidot). And if that’s not enough, Tonchidot announced the creation of social AR game. The future looks bright for those guys:

Have a great (and cool) week!

Vuzix Wrap 920AR Video Eyewear at CES 2010

The Vuzix Wrap 920AR aren’t the sexiest of specs, but they do perform the function of AR glasses. I got a chance to see this setup at ISMAR09 which they’re now showing at CES 2010.

The specs for the glasses look like:

The stereo camera pair delivers a single 1504 x 480 side-by-side image that can be viewed in 3D stereoscopic video, while the video eyewear provides an unprecedented 67-inch display as seen from 10 feet. The Wrap 920AR also includes a 6 Degree-of-Freedom Tracker, which allows for absolute accuracy of roll pitch and yaw and also X, Y and Z positioning in 3D space

Vuzix Wrap 920AR Specifications:

• 1/3-inch wide VGA Digital Image Sensor
• Resolution: 752H x 480W
• Includes 6 Degree-of-Freedom Tracker
• Frame rate: 60 fps
• Dynamic range: >55dB linear; >80-100dB in HiDy mode
• Shutter efficiency: >99%
• ADC Resolution: 10-bit column parallel
• High-speed USB 2.0
• PC and Mac compatible
• System requirements: Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, Windows7, Mac OS X 10.4.9 or higher
• MSRP: $799.99

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/lpcyMn6UVKY&amp]

They probably won’t be worn in public anytime soon, but some creative programmers could create interesting house-only interactive avatars or AR spaces. While some might scoff at this idea, see this video from Georgia Tech last year to see how even semi-cheesy graphics can make augmented reality immersive. Having played the old VR game Dactyl Nightmare in the 1990s, the head-tracking really creates the illusion of reality.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8c6U7dpI7g]

We haven’t seen any developers put together a product that takes advantage of these $800 glasses, but hopes are that exposure at CES 2010 will bring more interest. The only thing I’ve seen using the setup is the Whisper Deck from Craig Kapp.

Maybe later this year we might see some products that would entice the hard core AR enthusiast to fork out the cash for these un-sexy specs.

Open Letter to Apple: Let us Augment Reality with the iPhone!

A letter sent to Apple Developer Relations.

Dear Apple,

We are a collection of augmented reality (AR) enthusiasts and professionals (from business and academia), who have been working on a multitude of AR apps for the iPhone. These apps are poised to change the way people interact with the real world.

But here is the rub: we are currently unable to publish these apps on the app store because the iPhone SDK lacks public APIs for manipulating live video.

We are asking Apple to provide a public API to access live video in real time, on the iPhone.
We will be happy to offer additional technical details.

The impact of augmented reality (AR) on our lives could be as significant as the introduction of the PC.
In 10 years, we believe augmented reality will change the way everyone experiences travel, design, training, personal productivity, health care, entertainment, games, art, and advertising (videos).

Looking back just a few years, AR pioneers had to hack a slew of components into ridiculously large backpacks and HUDs, and be confined to rigged environments. Nowadays, it comes in friendly, affordable packages and the iPhone is one of the first devices to have it all – except for a public API.

The battle to determine the winning device has already begun; a public API to access live video will give the iPhone a lucrative ticket to compete.
We believe Apple has a window of opportunity of about 3 months before developers start looking elsewhere. If Apple decides to publish the API in that time frame – in the next 10 years, everyone might be using the iPhone as the preferred device to interact with the real world.

Here is how augmented reality could open up new opportunities for the iPhone this year:

Arf (Georgia Tech)

a virtual pet you take anywhere

ARghhhh (Georgia Tech)

first person table-top action game

Sekai Camera (Tonchidot)

AirTag the real world

Kweekies (int13)

a portal to creatures in a parallel world

Layar (SPRXmobile)

Browse the world with an AR browserDetails

Artoolkit for the iPhone (Artoolworks)

the most popular AR kit now on the iPhone

StudierStube ES (Imagination, Graz TU)

the only AR engine designed for mobile devices, now on iPhoneDetails

PTAM on the iPhone (Oxford University)

next generation AR tracking with no markers or images

Wikitude (Mobilizy)

a travel guide that “tells you what you see”

Virtual Santa (Metaio)

interactive Christmas application using the augmented reality

Augmented Reality Sightseeing (Fraunhofer IGD)

Historic photographs overlaid on your field of view while strolling in a street

These are apps that are practically ready to go. There is a whole bunch of apps and games that are just waiting for the API to be available.

…And Apple, we know you can’t share your plans…so please surprise us soon!

Many many thanks for your consideration -
Sincerely,

Signed:
Michael Gervautz – Managing Director Imagination GesmbH
Robert Rice – CEO Neogence
Georg Klein – PhD PTAM creator from Oxford University
Stephane Cocquereaumont -  President & Lead Developer Int13 (Kweekies)
Maarten Lens-FitzGerald – Founder & Partner SPRXmobile, developer of Layar
Ori Inbar – Author of GamesAlfresco.com and CEO and founder – Ogmento (formerly Pookatak Games)
Philippe Breuss – Lead developer, Mobilizy
Philip R. Lamb – CTO, Artoolworks
Noora Guldemond – Metaio
Takahito Iguchi – CEO, Tonchidot
Blair MacIntyre – Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

Bruno Uzzan – CEO, Total Immersion
Michael Zoellner
Fraunhofer IGD
Andrea Carignano – CEO,  Seac02

If you are developing an AR app for the iPhone and wish to join this effort – just let us know.

Blair MacIntyre on UgoTrade

Tish Shute continues with her enlightening series of interviews on UgoTrade. After previously interviewing Ori Inbar and Robert Rice, Blair MacIntyre was a natural choice.
MacIntyre discusses his work at Georgia Tech (which I briefly wrote about here), and shares his perspective on future directions for mobile augmented reality.

A lot of folks think it will be tourist applications where there’s models of times square and models of central park and models of Notre Dame and the big square around that area in paris and along the river and so on, or the models of Italian and Greek history sites – the virtual Rome. As those things start happening and people start building onto the edges, and when Microsoft Photosynth and similar technologies become more pervasive you can start building the models of the world in a semi-automated way from photographs and more structured, intentional drive-by’s and so on. So I think it’ll just sort of happen. And as long there’s a way to have the equivalent of Mosaic for AR, the original open source web browser, that allows you to aggregate all these things. It’s not going to be a Wikitude. It’s not going to be this thing that lets you get a certain kind of data from a specific source, rather it’s the browser that allows you to link through into these data sources.

Read it all over here (and check some of the interesting links featured in the interview).
Curiously enough, a video of one of the games mentioned in the article, “Art of Defense“, was uploaded to Youtube today. It’s an interesting research in how people interact when playing a collaborative AR game (see Bragfish for a similar research with a competitive game):

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