ISMAR 2009 is over.
It was the best of times. Augmented to the Nth degree.
How does the world of Augmented Reality looks like in the morning after?
Eager, revolutionary, strong, creative, responsible, loving – with a speck of a hang over.
Does it feel any different than before?
Well, a few tectonic plates have shifted overnight.
Here it is, my –
Top 10 tidbits reshaping the augmented reality industry:
1) AR Browsers make peace not war
Augmented reality browsers and navigation apps have been the media darlings of 2009. They have been depicted as gladiators battling to the death (we take some of the blame). ISMAR, on the contrary, was all about love and peace. On Monday’s Mobile Workshop, Robert Rice and I had the privilege to moderate a session about collaboration in the AR industry. Picture this: Layar, Wikitude, Junaio (from Metaio), and Across Air sitting around a table planning a communication standard for augmented reality information. I had a tear at the corner of my eye.
Missing in action: Presselite, Tonchidot, RobotVision, GeoVector…
2) Mobile is king, and the iPhone is the emperor’s new clothes
In 2009, ISMAR organizers decided to feature Mobile Augmented Reality (driven by Christine Perey) as the highlight of the event (duh!). The event guide explains: “much of the media and consumer attention is on mobile AR…because AR is increasingly with users where ever [they go].” The intention manifested itself allover the place: in workshops (“Present, Future, and the Roadmap to Mobile AR”, “Outdoor AR”), tutorials (Introduction to Handheld AR), sessions (Human interfaces, Human Factors, Tracking on mobile devices), announcements (Junaio, Artoolkit on the iPhone), posters (Streaming on mobile phones, In-situ outdoor geo models, Clinical Training experiences, Egocentric space distortion for environment exploration, Learning on the iPhone, and EyePly – mobile AR for sporting events), and demos (first panda ever to appear at ISMAR, PTAM on an iPhone.)
And all this hoopla around a phone that requires you to access a private API for live video?
3) Vuzix leading the pack in AR glasses
Mobile AR was all the rage, but AR aficionados in-situ were hungry for new AR glasses that will truly unleash its power. ORA Lab and Canon still offer huge-expensive HMDs; Microvision is focused on thick military grade monocle, and Nokia tries to leapfrog with way-cool gaze tracking but poor display (check out Thomas Carpenter’s post for more on ISMAR HMDs.)
This leaves Vuzix lonely at the top with with the only see-around, semi-dorky, inexpensive glasses (the envy of any Panda)
Missing in action: Lumus
4) Sketch is the new marker
Best student paper award went to Oriel, Nate et al. for AR Sketch (which featured in our top post and popular video). Their work is revolutionizing the AR world by avoiding the need to print markers – or any images whatsoever.
Two other winner were Steven Henderson (with Steven Feiner) for “Augmented Reality for Task Localization in Maintenance of an Armored Personnel Carrier Turret” and honorable mention for the lovely Susanna Nilsson (with Bjorn Johansson) for “AR to support cross-organisational collaboration in dynamic tasks”(read: disaster relief) – but both would have made scarry headlines: “Tanks Take Over ISMAR” or “Fire sweeps ISMAR”…
Missing in action: Daniel Wagner – who delivered his best paper yet: con-graz on your new baby!
5) Qualcomm spearheads as the most aggressive chip maker in AR
As diamond sponsor of the event, and with its own Jay Wright painting the vision for AR in 2012, as well as bravely moderating the controvertial “Past and Future of ISMAR” Panel – Qualcomm leapfrogged the other chip makers to become the most sincere contender in the future of AR devices.
Missing in action: Nvidia
6) Microsoft – the new big player to watch
7) Minority report VFX designer is looking for the next big thing in AR
The mere presence of guy with the most enviable AR credentials in the world (the guy who designed VFX for minority report), Kent Demaine, signaled the entrance of AR into the major leagues. Now he just needs to convince J.J. Abrahams to make a movie out of Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End.
8) New ARtist in charge
At ISMAR 2008, only one artist was present at the show and easily grabbed my Most Beautiful Demo award. In 2009 with a whole new tarck for Humanities, Arts and Media – the competition was more intensive. One artist came above all with commercial-quality, entertaining-yet-sophisticated pieces – and proved that with good design today’s technology is ready for prime time. Helen Papagiannis is the new AR artist-in-charge.
9) The AR ivory tower has been shaken
The fearless Pattie Maes presented, in front of an AR-only crowd, her popular off-mainstream augmented reality project the Six Sense making the point that with simple technology, low cost components, and clever design – it may be easy to bring the digital world into the physical one.
Although they all saw it coming – the audience was stumped.
Just check out who asked the questions:
Mark Billinghurst – “have you evaluated the user experience with users?”
Steven Feiner – “It won’t work on large buildings, would it?”
Bruce Thomas – “What about privacy?”
10) AR goes commercial
This was already the 10th ISMAR yet since the first – multiple attempts were made to bring AR to consumers – but the market has been elusive. This year, was the first time were consumer-oriented products were introduced. From Layar to Wikitude to Across Air and the just-announced Junaio, and learning games like Ogmento‘s Put a Spell – ISMAR became the breading ground for commercial AR. Christine Perey even dares to estimate Mobile AR revenue in 2009 to hit $10 Million. The tsunami is coming, prepare your surf boards.
If you feel this list is lacking or biased, I kindly refer you to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle which states that one can not measure both position and momentum in precision, because the mere observation affects the results. Beat that excuse – brainiacs.
(thanks Noah for the pointer)
By the way, I finally discovered why Korea is at the epicenter of the Augmented Reality world: How do you say “good morning” in Korean?
To find the answer you’ll have to come to ISMAR next year in Korea!
(hint: 증강 현실)
How did ISMAR change YOUR view of the AR world?
Other ISMAR 2009 posts you mustn’t miss:
Stay tuned for links to videos and presentations here and at the ISMAR society site.