Toyota Augments its Mini iQ too

We were all impressed by last year’s Mini advertising campaign using Metaio’s Augmented Reality technology. It featured  in the top spot of my Top 10 Milestones in Augmented Reality for 2008

Toyota couldn’t afford staying behind and had “one upped” BMW with a more sophisticated ad for its own mini – the iQ.

In the augmented world, the car drives on a road – and is blown up to reveal all its parts. Or in Toyota’s own words:

interact with the car to discover its agility and interior space.


Give it up for the  “iQ_Reality“:

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Now try it for yourself on Toyota’s site.


Rouli brings to our attention that Nissan didn’t stay behind and just introduced its Cube brochure:

Yet a new update from Le5emeP: another auto maker to play with AR advertising is Citroen with its C3:

Lastly is Ford with its own mini – the Ka:

A new addition (2009) to the AR cars phenomena with an artistic angle for the BMW Z4:


Now we have a complete round up, which one do you like best?

Boy Meets Girl Remake: Virtual Boy Meets Real Girl

YDreams’ Flapi will flip your mind.

You all know the classic story: boy meets girl; girl plays with boy; boy falls in love with girl; girl leaves…

Maria Palma just shared with me YDream‘s take on the story, featuring their virtual Mascot, Flapi the cute, and an even more cute – real girl (the Creative Director’s daughter which totally steals the show).

I like the attempt for drama driven by the interaction between real and virtual.

But I’d love to see this on a portable device. The girl should see Flapi in her field of view avoiding the need to turn her head to watch it on the screen.

YDreams response: they’re thinking about it…

This demo (based on their SimVideo augmented reality platform) and others were presented by YDreams’ CEO, Antonio Camara, at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas this week.

YDreams wasn’t the only AR company to present at the event: Total Immersion made a splash as well.

Microsoft to Demo Augmented Reality at TechFest

Technology Review reports the news:

Today, Microsoft researchers will demonstrate software that can, in real time, superimpose computer-generated information on top of a digitized view of the real world.

Michael Cohen,  principal researcher at Microsoft, and his colleagues will demo the augmented-reality technology at TechFest, an annual showcase of Microsoft’s research projects, in Redmond.

Well, we have seen augmented reality running on a Vaio before – but never from Microsoft. This could be interesting. Especially the tools.

Michael spits all the right examples of real life applications using AR, however at TechFest, the software will be used to lead people on a treasure hunt to a hidden prize of a (virtual) pot of gold.

The bubble flow navigation is way cool. Coming up right after the poster demonstration.

Games will lead the way.


via KZero: a collection of additional Microsoft-produced videos of the future – featuring largely augmented reality applications.

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Augmented Reality Game Poised to Win Game Award: Vote for Kweekie

Stephan Cocquereaumont, president and lead developer of Int13, a French next-gen games studio for Smartphones, has just shared with me the latest video of his mobile Augmented Reality game – Kweekies:

Kweekies is an Augmented Reality virtual pet game that allows gamers to interact with their pet by using the embedded camera of their Smartphone. 3 selling points – Augmented Reality that just works – Cute Virtual Pets – Online Competition

Kweekies is one of the 6 nominees for International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGA) in the newly established Real World Games Category.

The competition is taking place this week at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona.

Here are the nominees:
Kurai: The Dark Monolith
Aikon Ghost Hunter

Is Kweekie the only true Augmented Reality Game in the bunch?

We already had that debate before…

In any case, the winners will be announced soon – and you can make a difference.

Vote for the best!

Meet the “Six Sense” Device: Augmented Reality MIT style

This week at TED, on the very stage where Bill Gates unleashed mosquitos into the audience to make a point about the need to cure Malaria, an MIT researcher, Patty Maes, unveiled a “six sense” device.

Maes demonstrated a portable device constructed out of commercial of the shelf products such as a web camera, pocket projector, and a cell phone.

What kind of “six sense” feats can it achieve?

Yahoo Tech captured the new ways to interact with the world made possible with this device:

  • turn any surface into a touch-screen for computing, controlled by simple hand gestures
  • take photographs by framing a scene with your hands
  • project a watch face by creating a circle on your wrist with your finger
  • recognize items on store shelves and provide personalized recommendations
  • look at an airplane ticket and know whether the flight is on time
  • project information about a book while browsing at a store
  • recognize articles in newspapers, retrieve the latest related stories or video from the Internet and play them on pages

Augmented reality enthusiasts would immediately recognize these fantastic ideas. Whether you use cell phones, goggles, or a projectors to view the added information – it’s a whole new way to interact with the world.

Now we have to wait patiently until TED uploads the video. ***update*** see videos below.

Last year cellphones took center stage in spearheading augmented reality into the main stream. Out of the blue comes this spatial augmented reality cobbled-together-device and takes the spot light.

Oliver Bimber is not surprised. He’s been leading that school of thought for a while and even wrote a book about it: Spatial Augmented Reality: Merging Real and Virtual Worlds

So what’s the total?

“Six sense” device: $300

Interacting with the world in a totally new way: priceless…

ETA: 2019


Andy Baio just tipped me off that Wired posted up these videos – thanks Andy!

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Stimulant XRAY Exposes What’s Under the [Microsoft] Surface

When Microsoft showed SecondLight at PDC 2008 last year, Stimulant was inspired to do something cool with Microsoft’s Surface.

Here is the prototype they built. It takes advantage of Surface’s object recognition capabilities to identify the position of one or more iPhones, and turns those phones into “see through displays” revealing a second layer of information:

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Stimulant is excited by the potential of this as captured in their own words:

…adding a layer of personalized information on top of a public computing experience

SecondLight’s demo was quite inspiring, taking a different angle at this idea: by hovering with tracing paper over an image (think looking glass) it can reveal additional information about a star constellation, or show  street names on an aerial photo.

Now imagine  this capability going beyond “public computing”; imagine having a “magic lens” that allows you to see through anything, or add personalized information to any real life object you look at.

This is one of the stimulating promises of augmented reality. And in this demo, Stimulant made one of the first steps. towards this vision.

Coca Cola Augments Our World at Super Bowl XLIII

Lenny Raymond just unveiled this  sneak peak of an augmented reality commercial by Coca Cola about to air tomorrow during  Super Bowl 43.

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For Lenny this is a proof that augmented reality has made it to the mainstream:

If a Coke commercial during the Super bowl isn’t mainstream, I don’t know what is

For me, it’s mostly a source of inspiration: we are all getting lost in virtual worlds and we need something to help us rediscover reality.

In this case, a coke does the job…

I immediately added it to my AR commercial hall of fame: TV commercials that will inspire your next augmented reality experience

Now, who’s willing to bet on how many augmented reality commercials will air during the Super Bowl?

Hint: there will be at least two counting this one…

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The results are in. How many augmented reality commercials apeared during Super Bowl XLIII?

A lot!

In addition to the 2 mentioned above, here are some more:

Bud Light Drinkability – Ski Lodge

…draw graffiti anywhere with your finger and change reality…

Bud Light Drinkability – Lime

…and why not a weather changing augmented reality app?

(Oh, that was already invented in Australia – see ISMAR demos and scroll to “the most down under demo”)

Coke – Heist

…sure smells augmented…

Pedigree – You should have a dog

…looks realistic but when you think about it – why not augment your pet to look like a Rhinoceros?

Passionate About Augmented Reality and Not Afraid to Blog About It

Tish from Ugotrade interviewed Robert Rice about his latest Sekrets AR endeavors. It was an unmissable opportunity to rant about everything augmented. Check out the blog of one passionate AR fan.

What moves you in AR?

9 Movies that Will Inspire Your Next Augmented Reality Experience

Movies have used special visual effects to augment reality in cinema since George Melies did it first in 1899.

George was a French magician who took advantage of an emerging new technology – moving images – to invent a totally new experience in theaters.

Today we are on the verge of experiencing “special effects” in our field of view anywhere we go (see demos) thanks to emerging augmented reality technologies.

Walking backwards from 1907 to 2008, here are 9 movies to inspire your next augmented reality experience.

1) 1907 – George Melies – the Hilarious Poster

Characters in a poster come to life in this incredible movie from the inventor of special effects.

2) 1988 – John Carpenter‘s They Live!

This underrated sci-fi movie introduced bad acting and a classic AR story: a homeless drifter stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses through which you can see the world for what it really is. He can uncover the communist aliens that control the world.

3) 1988 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit

The first movie to mix the real and the loony. Bob Hoskins has never been seen drooling like that, not even in Super Mario Bros.

4) 1996 – Space Jam

A second attempt to mix the real and the loony, this time with a stretching Michael Jordan.

5) 2002 – Minority Report

User interface for navigating vast amounts of data that span time and places.

6) 2003 – Terminator 3

Get real time data about people you meet. A very useful application when you’re looking to borrow cloths that fit. Here is the Girl’s Night version from the third installment.

7) 2003 – Pirates of the Caribbean – the Curse of the Black Pearl

Watch minute 0:30 to 0:50 for a spooky AR effect I’d like to try someday.

If the movie doesn’t run click here.

8) 2007 – MUTO by Blu

This one is real reality and took tremendous effort. An incredible inspiration to overlay the world with art (which could be made easier with AR).

9) 2008 – Iron Man

Augmented Reality for (very) rapid prototyping, now for bringing peace to earth.

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Arthur C. Clark famously said “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” which brings us back to the magic of George Melies.

Which movies inspire you to create new augmented reality experiences?

*** Update: Reader contributions ***

10) 2006 Stranger than Fiction

From Robert Rice: How an augmented life of a person obsessed with numbers might look like

11) Denno Coil

From Jonas Hielscher: Animated, but visionary take on a world with pervasive augmented reality

12) Fight Club

My son reminded me of this “virtual furnishing your apartment” scene in this brilliant anti consumerism movie

The Making of ARf: Me, My Dog and i-Phone

Blair MacIntyre sent me a nice proof of concept of an augmented reality virtual pet running on an iPhone.

So I thought, why not write about “the making of ARf”?

Shot a couple of questions to Blair and he conveniently turned it into a well structured interview. Thanks Blair!

Here it is for your edutainment.

games alfresco: Hey Blair, I’d like to write about ARf in my blog.

Blair: Great! :)

games alfresco: Is there anything beyond the video that I could share?

Blair: We (my student Kimberly Spreen, really) did this relatively quickly.  She figured out how to get video [on an iphone], and we’d been thinking about doing a virtual pet game for quite a while, so we decided to implement some of the ideas to test out the iPhone.

games alfresco: Could you share a description of the current features?

Blair: Right now, you can interact via the touch screen, and by moving the markers.  Kim did a nice little implementation of multi-marker tracking where you can just add new markers as you feel like and don’t need to preconfigure the multi-marker layout.  You can interact with the dog by touching it (touch its nose and it jumps up to lick, its tail and it chases it, rub its back and it rolls over to let you rub its tummy) or by touching the ground to send it somewhere.  If it gets near its water it drinks, near the other dog it plays, or near a smudge (that you put on the ground by rubbing the ground) it sniffs it (alas, the smudge looks like a little “pile”, which works, but wasn’t the intent).

games alfresco: Plans for a full game?

Blair: This is a project we’ve been thinking about for a few years, going back to our “Dart the Dog” project that we did in Director.  The goal is to explore what it means to let everyone have a virtual pet they can take with them, and interact with through different interfaces (desktop, handheld, handheld AR, etc).  Most importantly, we want the location (bedroom, living room, work, bus, bar, etc) and activity (sound level, light levels, etc) and presence of other pets to impact how the pet develops.

To handle the development, we are talking to some folks at an AI company, who are creating an engine for doing creature AI based on reinforcement learning.  They hope to have something we can use next year.  If we can get that, we will be able to really have pets that grown, change, evolve, etc.

A few company’s who are funding us are interested in this, so I hope we can devote some energy to it next year.  We’ll probably target a few platforms, but obviously the iPhone has a lot of appeal.  From a research perspective, I’m interested in it because there is the potential to release a research game and (with permission of the people who download it, of course), collect a lot of usage data.  Ironically, since the create AI engine is server based, I don’t know if we could handle a big success and provide the AI service to everyone who gets the game, but I’ll worry about that it we ever get there.

games alfresco: Can you share more details about the software? Is it a Jailbroken iPhone?

Blair: Official iPhone SDK, unhacked phones.  I have no interest in working with jailbroken phones;  the appeal of the iPhone is the potential for mass distribution to support broad evaluation and feedback.

Obviously, we have hacked the API to get at the camera, so we can’t release this until Apple creates an official API.

We are using StbTracker for tracking.  The rest of the software was written by us.

games alfresco: Cool. Thanks for showing us “under the hood” of ARf.

For a doggie game, the name ARf works nicely in English.

It could get weird when translated into:

  • Spanish – jau, jau
  • Afrikaansblaf
  • Albanian – ham, ham
  • Arabic – how how
  • Armenian – haf, haf
  • Basque –  zaunk-zaunk
  • Bulgarian –  jaff, jaff
  • Catalan – bau, bau
  • Chinese, Cantonesewow, wow
  • Chinese, Mandarinwang, wang
  • Croatian – vau, vau
  • Danish – vov, vov
  • Dutch – waf, waf;
  • Esperantoboj, boj
  • French – ouaf, ouaf
  • German – wuff, wuff;
  • Greek – ghav, ghav
  • Hebrew – hav, hav
  • Hindibho, bho
  • Icelandic – voff, voff
  • Indonesian – guk, guk
  • Irish – amh-amh
  • Japanese – wan, wan
  • Korean – mung mung
  • Latvian – vau, vau
  • Persian – vogh, vogh
  • Portuguese – béu-béu
  • Russian – gav, gav
  • Serbian – av, av
  • Slovenianhov, hov
  • Thai – hoang, hoang