Apple Announces iPhone 3.1 with Semi Support for Augmented Reality

Horray. Apple announced today in their Music Event, that the new iPhone operating system3.1 is here (should be available in the next couple of hours).

What’s so great about it?

We were the first to publish the upcoming news when the Beta SDK 3.1 came out in mid July in our post: Has Augmented Reality Arrived to the iPhone?

Simply put – it offers a new API that allows to overlay graphics on a live video stream.

This is great news for Augmented reality (AR) browser applications such as Layar and Wikitude (for more examples see right side bar). Although similar applications have sneaked into the app store before – I am sure it’s great to finally be legit on the store.

However, 3.1 provides only semi support for AR apps.

When you want to align graphics with real world things (like markers or other objects) – you need to be able to analyze the live video stream off of the iPhone camera. This functionality is only available as a private API on the iPhone (even with 3.1). It’s technically possible, but Apple may not allow such an app on the App store.

By the way, when I say “support” I do not mean by any means that Apple provides AR capabilities on the iPhone. Some folks in the press got that impression from the flood of headlines announcing support for AR on the iPhone…
To clarify, AR companies still need to do the heavy lifting such as AR detection and tracking; bearing the ripe fruits of many years of research and development.

So AR is not yet totally legit on the iPhone. But we are getting closer.

Thank you Apple!

14 Responses

  1. […] the impression that the 3.1 firmware would provide support for AR apps. However, as Orin Inbar points out on Games Alfresco, 3.1 only brings ’semi support’ for AR apps. Wile developers can now overlay graphics […]

  2. […] One feature we were really looking for, support for augmented reality (AR) apps, will only be semi-supported in this new version, though at least some AR apps that were previously impossible to implement on […]

  3. Unfortunately this update is only minimally interesting for AR applications.
    The video image can not be processed by the CPU and as far as I know 3D rendering with this video background in use is very slow.
    Hence, this is only interesting for the simplest AR applications that neither require image processing nor render 3D graphics…

  4. […] Elkins Getting closer: RT @endurablegoods: Apple Announces iPhone 3.1 with Semi Support for #AR https://gamesalfresco.com/2009… – @comogard (via @twitt_AR) 33 seconds ago from Twitter – Comment – Like   […]

  5. Recently I interviewed Noora Guldemond http://tinyurl.com/qozpl5 She talks at length in this interview about mobile and AR. It seems as if the iPhone is promising if/when apple allows full access to the video stream. Still a problem though is that mobile phones still don’t have the computational power necessary to do medium complex 3d

  6. An improvement.
    But my bets are still on Android in the longrun.
    AR is a killer-app just waiting.

    “Still a problem though is that mobile phones still don’t have the computational power necessary to do medium complex 3d”

    Not sure about that. I dont think its restrictive enough to be a problem.
    It takes a fair whack of processing power to decode H.264 streams, yet the iPhone (and others) can handel it.
    650mhz ARM plus 128MB.
    Might not be much compared to modern computers, but that should be enough to handle PS2 level graphics.
    Purhapes once you have assigned enough to track objects (if your using tracking) you might have lost half of that.
    But even then you should have enough left for maybe a 10 thousand polygons a second with textures and point lighting.

    I dont think theres much point going ott with the graphics anyway. Untill we have really tight tracking, nothings going to look particularly realistic.

  7. The processing power of modern mobile phones is not that bad. It is roughly 20x-40x lower than a fast PC but still…
    The iPhone 3GS is by far not the fastest phone, but it would be very suitable for AR if there was official and fast video and texture management support.
    3D Rendering is definitely not the issue at the moment.

  8. […] One feature we were really looking for, support for augmented reality (AR) apps, will only be semi-supported in this new version, though at least some AR apps that were previously impossible to implement on […]

  9. […] all this hoopla around a phone that requires you to access a private API for live […]

  10. […] our Letter to Apple, a new iPhone SDK was released (a coincidence?) with the ability to overlay graphics on live video. This, enabled a […]

  11. […] apps such as the upcoming New York subway app that I previously discussed.  According to the Games Alfresco website, an iPhone developer can now create an app that overlays graphics on a live video […]

  12. […] apps such as the upcoming New York subway app that I previously discussed.  According to the Games Alfresco website, an iPhone developer can now create an app that overlays graphics on a live video […]

  13. Wazup,Hey hey. The iPhone is really great, though Apple’s iPad seems so damn sexy that I don’t know which one to get. What do you think I should get next?

  14. […] at ISMAR, PTAM on an iPhone.) And all this hoopla around a phone that requires you to access a private API for live […]

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