Layar, Layar, Layar

If you read this post, you are probably an avid reader of this blog.
If you are an avid reader of this blog, you are probably interested in AR.
If you are interested in AR, you probably know that Layar had a fantastic day, at least PR wise:

As a matter of fact, this day was such a success for Layar, that it seems that layar.com and layar.eu are quite slugish, probably due to a surge in visitors. Is it too late for Mobilizy (Wikitude) and acrossair? (I really hope not).

Even more details, on Layar’s blog.

Weekly Linkfest

Last week I published a poll, asking how do you define yourself – are you an engineer, an artist or maybe an Entrepreneur? As of writing this post, 75 readers have answered the poll, 34 of them (45%) identified themselves as engineers. I thought there would be more artists among you (15%), and was surprised by the percent of entrepreneurs (15%). The poll is still open, so you can still cast a vote.
Moving on to the weekly linkfest (it gets bigger every week!) -

  • Metaio blitzed the airwaves with two podcasts – Noora Guldemond (head of sales and marketing) interviews here and Peter Meier, Metaio’s CTO is giving an interview here. Sadly, I haven’t found the time last week to hear them, but I plan to do so in the next few days.
  • And it was a good week for SPRXMobile (Layar) as well. Aparently, Layar comes preinstalled on Samsung’s new Android phone, they were featured on The Financial Times, and things are only going to get better, since they are holding their first Layar event.
  • TweetWorld is Gamaray’s attempt to have an augmented tweeter application, joinning the ranks of Layar and TwittAround.
  • The BBC – Mobile phones get cyborg vision: “Not only could this form of rich, intuitive and easy to grasp data be the next killer app for the mobile, some see it changing our world view forever.
  • ReadWriteWeb – Augmented Reality: A Human Interface for Ambient Intelligence: “Augmented reality (or AR) is fast becoming as ubiquitous a term as Web 2.0. The field is getting noisier by the day, and AR as a field of research now has to co-exist with its status as an industry buzzword
  • A short introduction to programming AR applications for the Android OS.
  • Is this the first augmented shirt on Threadless?
  • CrashCorp demos a rudimentry AR application for the iPhone.
  • YDreams and Zugara join the AR consortium (can I join too?)
  • And Zugara (covered previously here) also launched what must be the second augmented reality game on Facebook (since last week Total Immersion had the first), CannonBallz (video). Just four years ago, we would have called this kind of games “Eye Toy” like, but today we have new buzzwords. Still, it is a well produced game.

Our weekly video is of a game created by Circ.us, to promote Chris Angel’s new show, “The five lives of Chris Angel”. Since it’s a puzzle game, and this summer turned me into a brain-dead blogger, I haven’t tried it myself to give an educated review. You, on other hand, can play it here, or just watch the embedded video below:

As always, have a nice week!

Two More AR Browsers to Join the Party

Are you a Wikitude or Layar supporter? Maybe Sekai Camera fan? The battle for supremacy at the augmented reality browsers market is getting more complicated by the minute, with two new contenders joining the fight.
First, acrossair which brought us the Tube Finder, is now showing off a very slick “general purpose” AR browser for the iPhone 3GS:

Next, GraffitiGeo, a fresh new startup that wants to create a Digg like service for real places is working on an AR version of their application, also for the iPhone:

(more details about GraffitiGeo here).

So, now we are at five AR browsers. Anyone wants to bet how many browsers there will be by this time next year? (my guess – only three serious contenders, and one of them will be owned by Google).

Weekly Linkfest

This passing week’s trending augmented reality topics were AcrossAir’s Tube Locator (which is two weeks old) and James Alliban’s augmented business card (which is over a month old, can’t see why it became so popular suddenly). Let’s hope next week will bring some fresh AR news. As a matter of fact, tomorrow I’ll cover an even cooler augmented business card concept. In the meanwhile, here’s this week’s linkfest:

Weekly quote:

However, I am nervous about the potential AR hype bubble. I’m pushing
“real AR” (which right now means tabletop) and the importance of tight
registration whenever I talk to the press or companies, because I want
as many people to realize that whether these apps succeed or fail
should not really be used as a metric of the potential success or
failure of AR.

Blair MacIntyre from an interesting discussion on the AR Forum whether the recent set of GPS based applications are AR or not (a point I’ve briefly touched here. I much prefer those pseudo AR application over the novelty AR applications).

This week’s video comes to us from Dutch design company Strafwerk. They described this video as “welcome to the future”, but I think it’s actually worse than Zugara‘s clothes shopping application (which wasn’t that great on itself):

Updates from the Frontline

Continuing my coverage of the augmented reality browser wars, here are the latest news (well, some of them are a few days old, excuse me for procrastinating a bit):

AcrossAir is not satisfied with letting you find the closest subway station in London (where it’s called The Tube), it also has its sights on the NY subway system:

If you remember correctly, Mobilizy, makers of Wikitude, claimed AcrossAir’s application demo is nothing but a mock-up. Seems real to me.
Anyway, Mobilizy is working hard to remind people that Wikitude augmented the world way before SPRXMobile’s Layar. Moreover, one of their tweets suggests that Layar was based on Wikitude’s technology. Indeed, SPRXMobile did cooperate with Mobilizy once, when creating their ATM finder, but it doesn’t prove that Layar is Wikitude in disguise.
Mobilizy also released this video demoing their Wikitude API, and did not miss the opportunity to include some sarcastic remark towards its end:

And in the Eastern front, TechCrunch reports on the almost final version of Tonchidot’s Sekai Camera. Compared this video -

With what we have been promised a year ago:

Well, at least they still have something to aspire to.

Battle of the AR Browsers

Three weeks after its launch, SPRXMobile’s Layar partially opens up its layer creation API to developers. It’s not freely available online (bad decision?), however, interested developers can register here, and may be among the lucky 50 to get access keys to the API. The press release is here.
Meanwhile, Mobilizy (creator of Wikitude) is not keeping silent. They congratulated SPRXMobile on their twitter account, and placed a comment on Layar’s press release:

On behalf of Mobilizy GmbH the developers of the original Wikitude AR Travel Guide we would like to congratulate SPRX Mobile in their efforts to help shape the Mobile augmented reality landscape.

Good Job!

Mobilizy also put this picture depicting Wikitude on the iPhone 3GS, and released the following advertisement video

and commented about AcrossAir’s Tube Locator application, saying “you can tell it is fake if you look closely”.

All this while both SPRXMobile and Mobilizy are founding members in the new AR Consortium. So, am I making a lot of noise out of nothing? Probably, after all I’m a blogger!

Update: Mobilizy just announced that they will let user add their own tags to the world via Wikitude.me and that they open up their API in a closed beta. And thus begins the battle to control the mobile AR world!

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.

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