Augmented Reality Flash Mob

If you happen to be in Amsterdam this Saturday (either because you live there or can’t get back home because your flight is canceled), you may want to check out the first AR flash mob. It turns out that in an augmented flash mob, the mob consists of virtual characters bounded to markers:

Sander Veenhof who is behind this interesting event hopes that tourists will opt to take pictures with the virtual characters rather then with the usual “live sculptures”. I personally doubt it, but if you want to take part in this experiment, the precise location and timing can be found here.

Locatory – Play with Gamaray

Editor note: OOPS!
Originally this post was scheduled for early December, but somehow I forgot to publish it. Sorry Locatory guys!
——-

As veteran readers of this blog surely know, official development of Gamaray, an AR browser for Android was terminated, and its code has been open-sourced. Recently I’ve learned about an interesting project by a team from the Open University of the Netherlands, named Locatory, based on Gamaray’s code.

The game’s premise is admittedly not that exciting -

The concept of game is rather easy. Players can compete with each other and gather cards that are hidden in augmented reality. Once a card is taken, it can be dropped at a physical location (figure 3, B). When a card is dropped at the correct location, the player receives a point. (source)

but it’s exciting to see that one can create (semi) augmented reality games in relative ease (especially since Locatory’s own code is freely available). After all, how far is a game such as Locatory from a geo-caching game? If I were a student these days, I would have a go at it (adult life is full of compromises :/).

Learn more here.

Sportpong – It’s Fun Being a Paddle

In Switzerland you can play Pong. Yeah, I know, you can play Pong for about 30 years all around the world, but you could never play it like this – outside, with your legs serving as paddles.

It’s nothing new either – you could have rent the setup for the game for at least a couple of years. The company behind it writes:

The setting is very simple: a reflector on each foot is the only physical tool to interact with Sportpong. The interface is integrated in the field which is projected on the floor. The players control the game with their feet, nothing else. This control is intuitive, naturalistic and very direct.

I really, really, can’t wait to try it out. Last year I had a session of Atari Pong (the first in twenty years) and enjoyed it immensely. This looks even better. Would be great having it on ARE or ISMAR.
More details on sportpong.ch via SwissMiss.

First Augmented Building Spotted in Japan

Augmenting reality using the GPS&Compass combo has become very popular in 2009, and has decent accuracy when used to augment distant big objects such as buildings. However, it won’t be terribly useful for augmenting specific floors within a building.

Japanese Qosmo and Teradadesign Architects to the rescue. By covering the facade of Tokyo’s N Building with giant QR codes, they were able to display store information and even tweets, linked to their source from within the building. It’s cooler than my lame description, check out the video:

More details at Nao Tokui’s blog (Qosmo’s CEO). Via PSFK.

Old McDonald Had an Augmented Farm

AgroTech, a Danish institute that provides consultancy and technological services for the agricultural industry, has created a rather interesting conceptual video, showing AR in an unconventional niche. The video below shows a farmer running a farm (milking cows, moving manor) aided by a pair of AR glasses. Though the text bubble are in Danish, you’ll probably understand the jist of things

You’re probably wondering what’s the last bubble says. It’s “Remember wedding anniversary tomorrow”. So there you have it, a single system that reminds you when to milk your cow and when to buy a gift to your wife. Perfect!

More information over here.

Watch Out, Google has Awaken

Amazon (SnapTell), Nokia (Point and Find) and many others better watch out, Google is making its play for mobile visual search, as revealed in CNBC’s “Inside the Mind of Google“. Harnessing technology bought when acquiring the startup Neven Vision back in 2006, Google is developing an android application that will identify locations and items captured in photos taken by the app’s users.

Tech lead Hartmut Neven:

Imagine you are on travel in Paris and you visit a museum. If a picture catches your attention you can simply take a photo and send it to the VMS [Visual Mobile Search] service. Within seconds you will receive an audio-visual narrative explaining the image to you. If you happen to be connected to a 3G network the response time would be below a second. After the museum visit you might step outside and see a coffeehouse. Just taking another snapshot from within the VMS client application is all you have to do in order to retrieve travel guide information. In this case location information is available through triangulation or inbuilt GPS it can assist the recognition process. Inside the coffeehouse you study the menu but your French happens to be a bit rusty. Your image based search engine supports you in translating words from the menu so that you have at least an idea of what you can order. (source)

At the moment, the visual mobile search application, internally known as Google Goggles, is going through a long battery of tests:

Back in California, the visual search team anxiously watched by video link as first time users tested the product. After some initial reviews were less than enthusiastic, Google engineers decided the new technology just wasn’t ready for prime time. So team members were dispatched to fix any remaining problems. (source)

So although not an immediate threat to leading Snaptell, we can be sure that Google will not rest till they will create a user friendly product that will use your photos to serve useful information and, naturally, more ads. In the meantime, if Google is looking for enthusiastic beta tester, my email is on the right :)

Read more at eWeek.com and CNBC. Via Steve Rubel.

Gamaray’s Source Code is Free to Download

As I blogged before, the work Gamaray, one of the prominent early AR browsers, has stopped. At the time, I was suggesting, like many others on Gamaray’s mailing list, that the man behind the project, Clayton Lilly, should release Gamaray’s code to the community. Lilly, I’m happy to report, have decide to do just that. In his recent post to the mailing list, he writes:

I’ve made the source code available in the files section, but there
are some things you should know:

1) Gamaray doesn’t use OpenGL, the 3D objects are all rendered in
software. This means the application will never support the kind of
animations or textures found in Layar and Wikitude 3D.
2) Much of the code is not very well thought out and I don’t plan on
spending any time explaining it.
3) I don’t plan on supporting an open source project, someone else
will need to upload it to a repository and manage the updates.

I would recommend starting fresh and just picking out the useful
tidbits.

So, if you are interested, the source code can be found here. At least one good thing turned out of this dire situation.

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