Best Selling Augmented Reality Games of 2009

In my pursuit of the ultimate augmented reality game – 2009 was a landmark year. From 0 to 30 selling games in 4 months is nothing short of stunning (and makes my 2010 prediction of 10x more AR games – not too bold…;)

Games on my iPhone

2009 was the year AR games broke from the lab into the hands of consumers – and this post celebrates that achievement.

So how to start reviewing the flood of AR games?

By Platform? By Genre? By commercial success? By Game Mechanic? Let’s try these out.

By Platform

Augmented Reality games have been developed for a multitude of platforms such as PC/Mac, Nokia phones, Windows Mobile phones, Android phones, PDAs with cameras, Nintendo DSi, and the Gizmondo. But, in 2009, the most lucrative platform for developers, with the broadest distribution by far was…surprise, surprise – the iPhone. In fact, all games on our list – save for one exception – were developed for the iPhone.

So the traditional way of reviewing games by platforms won’t do for this year’s review.

By Genre

Another popular approach to group games is by genre. When it comes to AR games genres, there’s a bit more variety than platforms: this year we have seen mostly shooters, but also horror games, a treasure hunt, and even one driving game.

Still, the limited variety this year does not merit a breakdown by genre, just not yet.

By Commercial Success

I would have loved to provide you with a sorted list of games by revenue. Unfortunately, this information is not yet public. My guesstimate is that the most commercially succesful AR game of 2009 was in fact released for the PSP – not the iPhone. You guessed it: Sony’s Invizimals (Developed by Novarama). Lay traps (markers) around your real environment, and use the PSP Camera to hunt down invisible animals and capture them. Simply described by users as “like having a real life pokemon…”
In addition to introducing a unique experience, Invizimals boasts a high production value and critics have been raving about it with a 7.7 average rating.

A quick look at Amazon’s rankings (UK only) reveals that this game is #1 among PSP simulation games (and that is before it has even reached the US!)

However, comparing these indicators with Apple’s app store rankings will be like comparing apples to oranges (pun intended). Hence, this year I resort to slicing and dicing the AR games of 2009 – by game mechanic.

By Game Mechanic

The term “Game mechanics” is defined by game design scholars as “a construct of rules intended to produce an enjoyable game“. What fascinates me in Augmented Reality is that it enables a whole new set of mechanics never before seen in video games. In 2009 we have barely scratched the surface. No one knows what new game mechanics AR will unleash next, but it will surely be a lot of fun, alfresco.

Following our Letter to Apple, a new iPhone SDK was released (a coincidence?) with the ability to overlay graphics on live video. This, enabled a totally new game mechanic for the iPhone, and although Apple failed to offer public access to the iPhone’s live video (an essential capability for analyzing pixels for aligning graphics with real world objects) – the iPhone became overnight the preferred device for Augmented Reality Games.

So what’s the crop so far?

A quick search for augmented reality games on the app store reveals this amazing list:

Let’s make sense of it.

360 Shooters

The top game mechanic of AR games on the iphone uses the compass and accelerometer (3GS only) to compute your orientation and overlay graphics on the iPhone screen as if the action is happening all around you in 360 degrees. Bottom line: it makes you move! (and no need to print markers…)

Kids would love it, right? It’s actually a double edge sword. When I asked my daughter (12) to test such a game she raised her head from facebooking in her immobilized position and asked: “will I have to move”?

This is typical to gamers. Take one of the gaming world luminaries, Tim Schafer, who recently told Wired: “When I’m gaming, I like to sit on the couch and move as little as possible”

Here is a chronological list of 360 shooter games on the iPhone. The first game to take the plunge and be accepted on the iPhone app store was:

1) Fairy Trails
Released by Freeverse on September 26

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As a developer of best selling apps for the iPhone, Freeverse decided not to go for the obvious shooter and delivered a fairy tale based theme with pleasant visuals and sounds. A clever design choice given the technical limitations: flying fairy things tend to fly slowly, all around you, and grabbing them with fairy dust (by tapping) is not as intense an action as shooting spaceships.

Turn your iPhone into a magical creature-detector with Fairy Trails! This augmented reality game opens a window to the fairy world, revealing fireflies, colorful butterflies and the ever elusive fairies. Shake your device to power the detector and then scan your surroundings…to merge the real world and game world in spectacular ways! Simply tap the creatures to collect them in your jars.

Reviews are enchanted by the new mechanic but are largely neutral (“a novelty?” by PocketGamer).

One element missing from Fairy Trails is a radar view that shows where the creatures are located around you – an element that was added in subsequent games.

2) Arcade Reality
Released by ToySpring on Oct 9th 2009
(Originally released in 2007 on Palm Treo and previously reviewed on games alfresco)

Toyspring didn’t go too far with the theme choice: shooting aliens. Once you overcome the tacky-wacky design it can get pretty addictive. It has a functional HUD (with a radar view showing alien ships in 360 degrees) and is reminiscent of classic Arcade shooters: the center of the screen is the cross hair – press the shoot button to kill. For my son (16) it is a throw back to the good ol’ days of Chuck E. Cheeses.

For over 30 years millions of aliens are slaughtered daily in video games. Until now they could not attack us in the real world…
Unlike most games where you only train your fingers, you must actually move to play Arcade Reality!

Arcade Reality is a low-brow shooter game with addictive qualities and it led the way for other variations on the theme.

3) Mosquitoes
Released by Makayama Software on Nov 1st 2009
(Previously reviewed by games alfresco)

Is it a game? Or is it a simulation of real life mosquitoes hunting?

Mosquitoes is a bare-bones game that uses the compass+accelerometer mechanic to overlay mosquitoes (and their annoying buzzing sound) on live video in 360 degrees. Tap a mosquito to kill it. That’s it.

Some people thought it was a sham. Just riding the AR wave.
However, the key issue is the mechanic. It doesn’t work in a believable way. There is no proper coordination between player movement, visuals on the screen, and the consequence of tapping the screen. It feels somewhat random.

The gamer’s verdict: not really a game…

4) – ARGH – AR Ghost Hunter
Released by Off Panel Productions on Nov 4th 2009

The theme is compelling: Hunt for ghosts in the real world.

Use your iPhone as a set of Ghost Goggles to see into the ethereal plane. Ghosts actually exist in specific locations everywhere. Using Augmented Reality technology, ARGH determines where you are and where you’re facing, and shows you what ghosts exist around you.

Ghosts themed games land itself very nicely to the 360 shooter mechanic; ghosts don’t have to be perfectly aligned with the real world to look believable…

But is it fun?

Reviews weren’t too favorable. The best Wired.com found to say about it was: “ARGH festively debuted on this glorious Friday the 13th” and “could double as a fitness app”…but summed it up as “felt like a short-lived gag”

Still, ARGH was a brave attempt and we couldn’t wait to see what augmented reality games emerge next.

Fun fact: A similar game (Ghostwire) was previously developed for Nokia phones and won awards.

5) Fire Fighter 360
Released by Presselite Nov 10th 2009

I was excited to see the game announcement by Presselite, a creator of prominent AR applications. I was especially intrigued by the choice of theme: instead of shooting aliens, let’s use AR to do good (fight fires)!

The graphics and sound track seemed polished (90’s style), and the story was to die for. But was it any fun?

Here are snippets of my son’s reaction while playing:

– “I can’t lose a half baked game like this” (huh?)
– “ahhh…!” (when getting “burned”)
– “Just doing my job” (when succeeded in putting out a fire)
– “I can hear it but I can’t see it!” (missing radar view)
– “nice dramatic effects” (always positive…)
And here is his verdict: “it felt like I was nursing the game…please work for me game…” or in other words…he felt pity for the game.

Why so harsh?

Because flames – unlike mosquitoes, spaceships or fairies – do not just float in mid air, but usually come out of a specific object. The game mechanic limitations (inability to perfectly align graphics with objects) just didn’t work out for this game. Great attempt; bad game design choice.

6) Ghost Hunt AR
Released by NeverBored Studios Nov 10th 2009

A copy cat of previous Ghost hunting games that didn’t even come with a YouTube video…

7) Pandemica
Released by XMG Studios on Nov 19th 2009

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtAFb2uF1AA]

XMG was able to generate nice buzz in the media during the game launch, and delivered high production value to support the hype. It also introduces multiplayer support (over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) so that players can work together as a team to dominate and destroy the aliens.

A new design choice in the game was introduced: you can tap anywhere on the screen to shoot an alien ship.

Pandemica transforms your device into a sub-field bio-scanner that can see the invisible alien organisms that are all around you. Your mission is to eliminate the enemy before they get you—and you get gooed. Unlock weapons such as: Missiles, CEB (Continuous Electron Beam), and the BFB (Bosonic Field Bomb) to complement your trusty standard-issue Laser.

Here’s my gamer’s perspective: robust game play, movement made sense, wasn’t a hassle to play…

The game was also a media darling with positive reviews:  5 stars by AppStore HQ and A+ by SlapApp

8) Cam Wars
Released by Gamedokan Japan on Dec 8th 2009

One more spaceships shooter, this time from Japan…

Spaceships attacks the earth.
You can shoot the lasers by touching.
Sweep away the enemies and save the earth!

Besides the Tokyo tower in the backgroung – there is nothing new about this game. In fact it’s a step backwards from previous attempts with this game mechanic.

And there’s more of the same from Gamedokan: SplatCam and Virtual Slingshot – all variations on the same mechanic.

9) 0ghost and 0santa
Released v1.1 by 0cog on Dec 9th 2009

Yet another Ghost themed game, this time from a self proclaimed leader in Augmented Reality (AR) and advanced software development located in Silicon Valley…

zeroGhost will turn your iPhone into a ghost hunting tracking device allowing you a glimpse into their plane of existence. While you hunt them, they try and steel your life energy until either you or they are dead. Problem is, there are many more of them, than you.

Couldn’t find any reviews or videos about this game, and the game site is very laconic.  I typically buy and try games I review, and I would have tried 0Ghost myself, but not for $4.99!

A second game from 0Cog uses a similar mechanic – but this time – with a Christmas theme…meet ZeroSanta:

When you see Santa, throw snowballs at him and receive gifts in return. Be careful not to hit the reindeer or they will return to the North Pole with Santa.

10) Augmented Reality Dimension Invaders
Released by Rapidito Games on Dec 16 2009

The latest game to make it to the store has a nice screenshot, but doesn’t surpass the previous games in any other way.

They have broken the barriers between dimensions to come to our reality.
They are coming to kill the human race. They are coming to kill you!
But you have the most powerful weapon. You can see the enemy spaceships through your iPhone camera. You can look for them in the app left bottom radar, point them with the cross hair and shoot touching anywhere on the screen.

Tap anywhere on the screen, but you only shoot the alien in the crosshair.

Overall – I give it a “meh…”
Some reviews were more generous with a 8/10 by i4U

That concludes the list of 360 shooters launched in 2009. Best games in this category: Arcade Reality and Pandemica.

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Photo Augmenting (or Phogmenting)

What other AR mechanics are possible on the iPhone?

Several notable companies thought that overlaying graphics on a static picture taken by the user – is cool.

I want to believe these apps were originally conceived as true AR apps (overlaying graphics on real life objects) – but since Apple didn’t make the elusive video API public – they had to settle for a workaround: take a picture of your real live object – and then overlay AR as if it were the real world…

This mechanic did have an advantage. It didn’t rely on overlaying graphics on live video – a feature that became available on the iPhone only in September. The first game appeared as early as June.

Here is the lowdown of the next mechanic I like to call – phogmenting.

11) The Hidden Park
Released by Bulpadok originally in June 2009

A brilliant use of the photo augmenting mechanic:

The Hidden Park is a magical adventure that your kids will love. It’s an afternoon out for the whole family that won’t break the bank. It’s a groundbreaking blend of fantasy and reality. Enjoy.

It uses nice graphics and a story to get the young (and young at heart) outdoors to play a treasure hunt-like game.

It’s tied to specific parks – but the Park Builder allows you to localize the adventure for your own local park. Although it’s not using augmented reality in the scientific sense – it’s inspired by AR concepts and could transform one day into a magnificent AR game.

Bulpadok reused the technology developed for The Hidden Park to create another (free) app:

12) Fairies Everywhere
Released by Bulpadok and Conduct

Briefly spotted in Apple’s top 25 application for kids games?

Fairies Everywhere reveals magical creatures in your own photos. Take a photo and you’ll see that fairies live all around us! All the time!
It’s an entertaining game for kids that creates memorable portraits for everyone – from dad to grandma and beyond. Get discounts to order prints of your fairy photos online.

As much as Hidden Park hit the spot – Fairies Everywhere was disappointing: how many times do I want to see the same fairies superimposed on my living room pictures…?

(Unlike the Hidden Park it didn’t really give any incentive to go alfresco)

13) – Drift
Released by HIT Lab NZ on Nov 5th 2009 (independent company from HIT Lab NZ Research center)

I tried hard to have fun with this game – but besides the believable engine roar and the cool music – I did not succeed…
To be fair, it’s likely this game was originally conceived as a true AR app – overlaying  muscle car CG making doughnuts – on live video). It’s probably reverted to a static image to be allowed on the app store.

I can imagine this game being a tad more fun if played on dynamic video; players would be manipulating the iPhone to control the car around the marker-card laid in the middle of your own room.

While at it – HIT Lab released another game with a similar mechanic (photogmeting) – this time it’s a revenge against bugs dubbed: Splatter Bugs

One user comment I caught online says it all: “whew, the video saved me from getting this.”

Nuff said.

14) GEO Chaser
Released by Michael Zitzelsberger on Nov 19th 2009

Go geochasing friends and strangers with your iPhone. Play it inconspicuous like an agent, hidden like a ninja or offensive like a pirate. GeoChaser uses GPS to locate you and your opponents. Your positions will be displayed on a map.

Unfortunately, the GPS+compass combo isn’t accurate enough to help you identify targets. But it’s probably more fun than matching tweets with tweeters – as many apps do today.

15) Gunman
Released by Stage Two Labs on Dec 8th 2009

“Laser tag meets urban paintball in an epic battle against your friends, a heart pounding adventure that puts you and your iPhone directly in the line of fire.”

The game looks awesome in the video. In reality, the players generate the fun – not the game. What’s its “added value”?

When shooting a photo of your opponent, it recognizes the color of your opponent’s shirt. If it’s a hit – it will make your opponent’s iPhone vibrate. Neat? Yes! Augmented? Ah…who cares. Is it enough to become a best selling game? It will have to do more than vibrate.

AR history buffs among you will remember this game was originally conceived way back in 2007 for the Android phone; does Wifi Army ring a bell? Or the Lumix Battle commercial?

The world is the battlefield, your phone is your weapon. Players organize in 2 teams armed with cell phones with the goal to locate and take pictures of their opponents. The phone compares captured pictures against a database of player faces and awards points for correct hits.

Nevertheless, Stage Two deserve kudos for thinking about fun before technology – and making it happen.

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Marker Tracking

16) AR Quoits
Released by NaPanda in Dec 2009

Toss virtual rings by flicking your finger onto a blue circle (drawn on on a white page). The circle is overlaid with an upright peg. Try to hit the peg. The farther the distance – the higher the points you score.

This was a huge surprise. The app is poorly designed, and it seems like it was put together in a haste. However, this is the only app on the store that actually analyzes the pixels on the screen (looks for the blue circle) and overlays graphics (the yellow upright peg) so it’s perfectly aligned with the circle. Yes it’s blinking, the tracking is far from being robust, and the game play is definitely not much fun…but it’s the closest thing to augmented reality you will  find on the app store in 2009.
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A bunch of other games on the app store claim to be “Augmented Reality Games” as well. They weren’t. But they weren’t fun either, which is where I draw the line. Here’s the list of…

Games that didn’t make the list

Overlaying flying bullets aimlessly on a camera view doesn’t cut it for me. Not even if I have a bunch of switch  weapons to choose from. And yet, such games sprung up like mushrooms after an October rain: MGD (Most Dangerous Game), Assassins FPS by Differentium, iPew by Wumbitz, Firepower by Todd Hopkinson, VRArsenal by Quickdecay, First Person Shooter by Blueriversa, HandsUp by Assaf Waisler (introducing a new weapon – kisses). hiBubble by BorderTown and Snowglobe by Maverick, get a special mention for breaking away from weapons, and  blowing bubbles and snow respectively, instead. Does anyone play these games, or are they just too tempting to build?

Wanted Dead or Alive by Poulet Maison (House Chicken in French) has style. I admit. The sound track sets the expectations for a AAA game – but sending friends photos of my appliances riddeled with bullet holes – isn’t my kind of fun.

Games to inspire Augmented Reality Games

Location-based games could be considered the older cousins of augmented reality games. Together, they could form a very powerful gaming experience. Here are some inspiring location-based games:

iSpy by SplitP is based on an extremely simple yet clever concept: take photos of real world objects and challenge other people to try and find it – it’s all about getting out and experiencing the real world – games alfresco style.

Turf Wars by MeanFreePath is a very ambitious game that takes Zynga’s Mafia Wars to the streets – literally. Nurture a mafia family and gain turf in your hood. Imagine what could happen if added a pinch of AR to this scenario…

Take over real-world territory in your neighborhood with Turf Wars, the new GPS-enabled crime game for your iPhone and iPod Touch! Turf Wars is the massively multiplayer online game where you claim and defend real-world territory from other mobsters.

Parallel Kingdom by PerBlue

Parallel Kingdom is a mobile location based massively multiplayer game that uses your GPS location to place you in a virtual world on top of the real world.

Through this game, you can almost see how MMOs and virtual worlds will look like after migrating from PC screens to the real streets.

Booyah by MyTown – location-based games meet monopoly.

Buy and own your favorite real-life locations. Collect rent when other people check-in to your shops. Upgrade your shops to increase their value.

Eye Hound (GPS) by Counterwinds

Get away from your pursuers in an augmented reality survival. Turn your everyday life environment into a playing field : you’re tracked down by ennemies’ satellites, escape from the area watching over, in the time alloted.

Eye Hound pulls you in with great graphics, sound effects, and promising a unique interaction – but the action is soooo000 repetitive that it wipes out all the positive points. It might be an alternate reality game – but not an augmented one.

Apps to inspire Augmented Reality games

Sometime apps can inspire games as well; watch out for these wanna-be-games apps as they evolve. They look like apps, they talk like apps – but when you do something good like checking into a bar – you get points, badges, or if you’re a frequent patron, you could even become the mayor of your favorite pub. These apps marry social networks with GPS to help you explore your city in new ways.

Foursquare – introduced at SXSW in March 2009: earn points and unlock badges for
discovering new places, doing new things and meeting new people
Gowalla – a more playful take on Foursquare
CauseWorld – same mechanics with a socially responsible spin: points you earn transform into sponsored donations to important causes.

Finally, lets us dedicate a moment to…

Apps that didn’t make it to the app store

Virus Killer 360 by Acrossair

Put a Spell (Developed by Arballoon; Published by Ogmento)

Have you been rejected from the app store? Tell us your story.

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That concludes our review of Augmented Reality games in 2009. Overall, we have reviewed more than 20 AR games, and identified several highlights and a handful of disappointments.

The biggest achievement of the year: tens of thousands of players got their hands dirty with AR games for the first time in history. And the promise is much bigger. Prepare for 10x more games in 2010.

And keep in mind: to make these games 10x more fun, we’ll need better design – not necessarily better technology.

Wanted! Game designers! Game designers! Game designers!

Happy New Year to our devoted readers and contributors. A million thanks to our own Rouli for an amazing coverage of the augmented reality scene. And finally, welcome to our fantastic new author – Tom Carpenter.

2010 will unveil an awesome reality.

Apple See-Through Augmented Reality HMD Glasses

The January issue of Mac Life sports a fauxtograph of possible Apple augmented reality HMD glasses. It’s hard to know how much of this article is based on concept, but Apple working on an AR HMD would be a huge jumpstart to the nascent technology.

In mid-April of 2008, Apple published a patent for a “Head Mounted Display System.”  The patent shows screens and fiber optics and vision imaging controls.  Would the display use pico projection or utilize OLED displays?  Pico displays could be used right now, but OLEDs might be a year out.

Would Apple make HMD goggle for augmented reality?  Looking back at this 2006 interview on MacSimumNews, we can see that Steve Jobs was already considering it.  Given that he also denies Apple is looking at a HMD practically guarantees they have something in the works. 

Jobs: Yes, you want a nice big screen so that you can see lots of music and you can pick out what you want, versus a tiny little screen. But then again, you want the screen to be small so that you can put it in your pocket. Actually, discovering and buying music on a computer and downloading it to the iPod—in our opinion, that’s one of the geniuses of the iPod. So you can look at changing that—and maybe that will happen over time—but I think the experience you’ll get on a device optimized for putting in your pocket is going to be far less satisfactory than on a personal computer. You may still want to do that [on a small screen] occasionally, but I don’t think it’s ever going to mean that you can not have some other device that is your primary device for buying and cataloguing music.

Swisher: What would solve that? Can it be solved?

Jobs: Rollable screens, goggles you can put on; I don’t know. It’s not on the horizon.

Given Apple’s trademark secrecy, it’s a huge unknown if MacLife’s article is pure speculation or its based on some real knowledge.  We do know that Apple has patented aspects of an AR HMD, so it’s not crazy to think they might come out with one.  With tons of augmented reality applications hitting the market, I can’t imagine that Apple will wait too long to unveil their AR glasses to grab a critical market lead.  All the pieces of the technology are available as we speak and I’m not the only one to notice this (read PatentlyApple).   

Microvision, Vuzix and Lumus are telling us to wait until 2011 for AR HMDs, but if Apple gets involved, we just might see it happen in 2010.

Acrossair Augmented Reality Browser Hits the iPhone App Store

Acrossair, one of the pioneering companies in augmented reality on the iPhone, just made it to the iPhone app store with a new app: acrossair augmented reality browser.

Previous apps by Acrossair were task specific: find the Nearest Tube, Nearest Places and Nearest Tweets.

Today, it’s joining the likes of Layar and Wikitude as multipurpose AR browsers. Congratulations.

Let’s take a look at the new browser.

First screen aggregates various information sources such as Panoramio, Stella Artois – LE BAR Guide as well as  Acrossair previous apps such as Nearest Tube, etc. Scroll through the long list by swiping your finger iPhone style.

Once an information source is selected, you get to see the nearest as points of interests (POIs).

The heads up display is minimalistic, with just one pink icon on the top left to access more info – and Acrossair signature “stack” of POIs

.

From the Acrossair site:

The browser uses awesome 3D navigation which you can see as you spin around. There is local data from property companies and big name brands which is represented in an augmented reality view. Holding it flat jumps to a Google maps view and when you spin around so does the browser to make sure you know where everything is in orientated.

What will be Acrossair next steps?

Will they open it for developers? for user generated content?

We’ll have to see how things unfold in 2010 which is promising to be a hot year!

Augmented Reality iPhone Sudoku Grab

I thought the purpose of Sudoku was a time killer and exercise for the brain.  If you’re more interested in having a filled out booklet on the coffee table to impress your friends and family then this augmented reality iPhone Sudoku Grab can quickly analyze the board and give you the answers. 

When AR computing technologies become more ubiquitous, you won’t ever want to let your friends wear their AR glasses during any board game because there will certainly be helper-agents to plan the next move.  And I for one am waiting for the Scrabble-helper so I can quickly figure out what seven letter words I have.

Another Spoke in the AR Hub

Hello!  Recently, Ori Inbar asked me to join forces with them at Games Alfresco to continue make it the premiere place to get your augmented reality news.  Having been a fan of the site since I became aware of the technology, I jumped at the chance.  If you’re familiar with my site The Future Digital Life, then you’ll know I help the AR community keep up with steady flow of news.  Given that there are now three of us behind the news desk, hopefully we can make sure that nothing goes unnoticed.  I still plan on maintaining my site, but that will be for non-AR related posts.  You can also find me on twitter – @thomaskcarpente

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.

Weekly Linkfest

This is the last linkfest for this year. Though there were many more Christmas spectacles this week, I’m going to keep this linkfest holiday-spirit free (broke my nose, not feeling very festive).

  • Robert Rice on 2010, the first year in the decade of ubiquity – “The point though, is that all of these things calling themselves augmented reality now are just the start. Everyone is getting their feet wet, experimenting, exploring, and beginning to innovate. We can argue about what is or isn’t augmented reality, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the continual push for advancing the technology, the industry, and getting people to start using it“.
  • On the same theme, Edo Segal writes for Techcrunch about the dawn of ambient streams – “Increasingly, we will be sensing the world with this sixth sense and that will change the way we collectively experience the world. Going back to the point made earlier, the watershed event is when we will be experiencing this “ambient sense” without being in a retrieval mode (i.e. not when we go to the computer or our mobile device
  • Whisper Deck is a cool voice operated AR interface
  • Jack Benoff of Zugara on what to do in case you are pitched an AR campaign.
  • ReadWriteWeb on the Brightkite’s new feature – AR ads.
  • Augmented Planet on Toozla, self-claimed world’s first audio AR browser (I believe Gamaray had audio support as well).
  • EyePly wants to augment your sports events.
  • And Tonchidot released its Sekai Camera browser worldwide.
  • It’s a couple of weeks old, but I finally got to read it – Wired on AR accelerated by Earthmine’s 3d city-maps.
  • Point your sneakers to your webcam in order to feel silly. Which should be on Mashable’s 10 awesome uses of AR in marketing list (what, only one car campaign? seriously, where’s that GE ad that started the fad?)
  • Denno Coil (AR fans number one anime) gets a mobile AR campaign (via @thomaskcarpente)

This week’s video is of a projected AR system coming to us from the University of Magdeburg, Germany. Though we have seen quite a few systems like that over the past years (even one coming out from Microsoft), I don’t think we have seen any as slick as that. You can read how it works (magic! infra-red markers) at New Scientist (via Augmented Engineering).

Have a great week!

Augmented Reality in 2010: Ori Inbar’s Predictions (Part 10)

Well, if you read this blog you probably don’t need me to introduce Ori Inbar. But if you don’t already know him, he’s the founder of Games Alfresco and a whole lot of other things. Here are his predictions:

  1. Bruce Sterling will secure his position in the history books as THE evangelist of the augmented reality movement
  2. Blair MacIntyre will start a successful AR game company but will still miss the good ‘ol days at Georgia Tech (just announced! new company is Aura)
  3. Georg Klein will launch an amazing mobile AR proof of concept that will inject Microsoft into the AR limelight (the product will only get commercial years later)
  4. 10x AR users over 2009 (i.e. ten times more AR users than in 2009)
  5. 10x AR apps over 2009
  6. 10x total AR industry revenue over 2009
  7. 10x total investments in AR start ups over 2009
  8. The center of the AR world (according to Google trends) will shift from East Asia (South Korea) to the West (US and EU)
  9. At least one major chip manufacturer will announce the inclusion of AR capabilities on its chip
  10. In 2008 we predicted that “2009 will be the year where AR breaks from the lab and gets in the hands of consumers”. Totally happened! (but very few are really using it…)

2010 will be the year where consumers fall in love with AR – start using it in their daily lives and enjoy it!

Now, if there is someone with a lot of inside information about the industry, that’s Ori. So I’ll take his predictions very seriously. The prediction about investment should be easy enough to check – we should see at least $50 million in investments in 2010. Let’s hope so!

So, that’s it folks. Our last predictions post for this series (unless someone will suddenly send me another one). Remember, the poll is open till January 1st, so cast in your votes for what you think is most probable to come true in 2010.

Previously:
AR in 2010 Part 1 – What’s your opinion? – Our online poll
AR in 2010 Part 2 – Crazy predictions that might come true.
AR in 2010 Part 3 – Thomas Wrobel’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 4 – Augmented Planet’s Lester Madden’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 5 – The Future Digital Life’s Thomas Carpenter’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 6 – Noah Zerkin’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 7 – Gene Becker’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 8 – Augmented.org’s Toby Kammann’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 9 – A Look Indoors.

Augmented Reality in 2010: A Look Indoors (Part 9)

I was delighted to see that Patched Reality’s Patrick O’Shaughnessey answered my call and shared his augmented reality related predictions for 2010 in his company blog. It’s Patrick’s first prediction that I find most interesting (though all of them are very good). While many of our prior columns in this series had predictions about how AR will change the way we see the outside world, Patrick reminds us there’s use for indoors AR:

While AR browsers like Layar and Wikitude will continue to focus their attention on discovering information that is in the world at large, another class of AR applications will emerge that helps people see what could be in the comfort of their own home. We’ll see a lot more applications released by manufacturers that sell products that go in people’s homes. These applications will be more sophisticated than the recent IKEA campaign in Germany, as they will make use of the actual smartphone video stream to make sense of the user’s environment, and also allow people to purchase the products they’ve previewed right within the app.
Products that people will be able to “try before they buy” will run the gamut from furniture, artwork, electronics, window treatments, clothing, and maybe even paint colors. This type of application will be to 2010 what the “hold a marker up to your webcam to see a marketing message” was in 2009. And there will likely be both good and bad executions of the basic concept.

We actually saw the early seeds of indoors AR in 2009 with such offerings as virtual electronics, virtual eyewear, virtual shoes, virtual jewlery, virtual furniture and many more, all can be tried on in the comfort of your own home. Coincidentally, I’ve recently spotted this demo from 4th Wall Technologies that shows “augmented renovoation”. Though the technology is not very exciting, the use of a tablet pc really seems to fit this purpose:

Ironically, accurate registration and image recognition may not be the main issue preventing AR from coming indoors. After a conversation with a friend it became apparent to me, that scanning items in order to create a 3d representation is a real roadblock for retailers on the route to selling via AR,

Joins us tomorrow for the final installation in our series, when Ori Inbar shares his predictions for 2010. Don’t forget to take part in our predictions-poll if you haven’t done so yet.
Previously:
AR in 2010 Part 1 – What’s your opinion? – Our online poll
AR in 2010 Part 2 – Crazy predictions that might come true.
AR in 2010 Part 3 – Thomas Wrobel’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 4 – Augmented Planet’s Lester Madden’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 5 – The Future Digital Life’s Thomas Carpenter’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 6 – Noah Zerkin’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 7 – Gene Becker’s predictions.
AR in 2010 Part 8 – Augmented.org’s Toby Kammann’s predictions.

Merry Weekly Linkfest

Two important events are coming this week –

  1. The conclusion of our little project, collecting augmented reality predictions for the new year.
  2. Christmas

Although the former event is much more important, for some strange reason, I was swamped this week with links relating to the latter. A short list of holiday related AR application that caught my eye since my last post “it’s the season to be augmented“:

Whoof!
Oh right, there were other news this week. Augmented Planet published their results for the first AR people-choice awards. Wikitude won the browsers category, but which participitant won the Chumby? Layar had to withdraw Layar 3.0 from the appstore. Thomas Carpenter has a listing of the worst AR uses this year. A good use is to encourage people to donate blood, like they do in Japan. Total Immersion created Avatar related AR apps for McDonalds and Coke. Wallpaper magazine fancies an AR edition. And another week, another car gets an AR campaign (though it’s technically from June).

The weekly video shows Total Immersion’s implementation of a haunted house in Japan. Thomas wrote a full post about it, while I just tweeted that it looks really scarry:

Have a great week and merry augmented Christmas, if that concerns you!