The One Eyed Man is King

In a land where what you see is what you get, those who can see more – even with one eye – are kings.

Kijin Shin from Yanko design believes in it and makes a point with this interesting concept design. He calls it the “Third Eye concept designed is for travelers.”

See something interesting? Just place the Third Eye up to your eyes like a monocle and the device pulls all relevant historical, travel, shopping, and tourist information.

Augmented reality lends itself well to touristic applications. When people explore new places – extra (augmented) information in context is highly sought after.

Multiple concepts focused on tourism have been thought of and implemented before: Museums apps, Wikitude, YDreams Sightseeing, Archeoguide, and many others.

What’s interesting in this one – is the form factor and the user interface.

Sometimes you have to reduce features (one eye only) to achieve simplicity. That has the potential to drive massive adoption.

If you are into the pros and cons, check out the interesting discussion on the site featuring the usual supporters vs. skeptics. One commenter compared it to the Celestron SkyScout:

We’ll see if Kijin’s design raises interest among hardware manufacturers. By then we’ll realize if the one eyed man becomes king – or whether he’ll be facing a land populated with 2 eyed specs.

So Many MIDs to Augment Your Reality at CES 2009

A quick look at all MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) Intel is showcasing at CES 2009 (thanks to Truc and Warner from GottaBeMobile)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Intel introduced the MID design concept only last year with just a handful of working devices. This year, they are definitely making a  big splash with too many to count.

Here’s Intel’s own Uday sneak-peaking a bag full of MIDs prior to the show

A notable MID, the Gigabyte m528, was released last month boasting great capabilities albeit a steep price ($750)

Stay tuned for Mid Moves – where four well-known technology bloggers will be taking 8 Intel-based Mobile Internet Devices on a fun and challenging 4-day tour starting on Jan 19th.

Now, which one will you use for your next augmented reality experience?


A Formidable Mobile Augmented Reality Device? Meet the HTC Touch HD

The new contender to become the mobile augmented reality device of choice is here: meet the HTC Touch HD.

htc-touch-hd-combo

PC World (Taiwan) hands on experience is pretty favorable.

With a far better screen (800×480 compared with iPhone’s 480×320) and a higher rez camera (5MP compared with iPhones 2MP) and its ability to record video (unlike the iPhone’s), it looks very promising.

The only big caveat is the high price tag ($776). It’s now available in Taiwan but poised to hit the EU and US by year end.

It will not have the screen size and the power of a MID – but it fits in a pocket, which is a plus for most of us.

As a result, the HTC Touch HD takes the place of the elusive Meizu M8 (still not out) on my top 5 mobile Devices for high-end AR.

Here is the updated round up.

ar-device-comparison3

Which one do you like best?

How to Get the Next Generation Hooked on Augmented Reality – Today: Part II

In my previous post “How to Get the Next Generation Hooked on Augmented Reality – Today” we explored the value of mobile educational games.

Most of these games were built for PDAs relying on a GPS, but did not include real time visuals of the real world (AR Tracking).

These PDAs are now obsolete.

In order to make it appealing for Kids, we’ll have to put in their hands something more trendy; iPhone, G1, Nokia N85, or a Mobile Internet Device (MID) come to mind.

But here’s the rub: will you give your toddler your precious smartphone? Your iPhone (God forbid) ?

What if electronics manufacturers raise to the occasion and create dedicated mobile devices for education?

Here are the Mobile Learning Devices already in progress:

One remarkable and noble project already in flight is project Inkwell.

The project’s ambitious goal is to create technology standards for the K-12 industry including defining the specifications for an Inkwell learning device. The design is by IDEO Spark.

It does not have a camera yet. But once mobile learning games break free – I am sure Inkwell will update its specs to include a camera.

Two other companies take a more commercially oriented approach (read: practical) introducing education oriented mobile devices (not yet AR enabled) such as 
VTech’s Create-A-Story

or LeapFrog’s Leapster and Didj.

These are less expensive devices that target a smaller niche.

Will these dedicated mobile learning devices be able to take a bite from the 800 pound gorillas in mobile gaming: Nintendo DS and Sony PSP ?

Will these devices drive the next generation’s Augmented Learning experience?

In my post about the new Nintendo DSi, I highlight the innovation and track record that has characterized Nintendo over the years. They will certainly fight the recent attempts in mobile learning devices with all their might.

Or will the iPhones and iClones of the world, with their massive adoption and cool factor, rule the mobile learning market after all?

What do you think?

Will The New Blackberry Storm Through the Augmented Reality World?

In our quest for a better augmented reality experience we keep evaluating new devices that could deliver a superior AR experience.

The new kid on the block that is attempting to take on the iPhone is Blackberry’s Storm.

It will be on sale starting tomorrow. Here is a collection of roundups.

Should it make the top 5 best AR device list?

To achieve that feat it first has to beat the iPhone. Its haptic capability (pressing a button on the touch screen feels like pressing a real button) won’t do it alone.

Well, the Storm has a better camera (3.2 MP vs. 2MP), a somewhat better screen (especially in sun light), and it records video. One could also expect a longer battery time.

On the down side: the user experience and the OS is reportedly not up to snuff with the iPhone (freezes, awkward user interface at times). Plus it’s missing WIFI support (what gives?), and it’s heavier (by 17%).

The verdict?

The Storm will have to prove itself in the market with adoption among users and developers before making the top 5 AR device list.

Can The New Nintendo DSi Augment Your Reality?

The Nintendo DSi, now with camera, went on sale in Japan on November 1st; next year in the rest of the world.

We were excited when it was announced in September, and thought it could energize the augmented reality games scene. So, here it is, not just with one camera – but two!

Eurogames shares their hands on experience with the newcomer. If you have a fetish for unboxing new products, get your fix with 1Up.

Aaah, but here’s the rub: the cameras boast a mere 0.3 MP each…

Nintendo’s strategy of taking advantage of inexpensive technology and creating new and compelling game experiences has been wildly successful in the past with the DS and the Wii.

Will developers’ ingenuity be able to beat the DSi constraints (cpu power, resolution) and make it play cool AR games?

Still remains to be seen. Until then, take a look at this basic augmented reality software loaded on the DSi:

  • change the color of your shirt – virtually – with the touch of a stylus
  • face recognition that makes you look happy, angry or sad,
  • or if you are more into felines, why not grow cat-ears-and-whiskers?

The Perfect Augmented Reality MID Device Has Arrived: Ciao!

When you’re in pursuit of the ultimate augmented reality game, you’d better be riding on an ultimate augmented reality device.

So far, we have been hitchhiking “lesser evils” such as described in my “Top Mobile Devices Compete

The conclusion was grim:

No big winners on this list.
Some have to be hacked to do AR; some might not see the light of day; others don’t even have cameras.
[What in the world are MIDs with no cameras doing on the list, you ask?
Patience my friends. The MIDs are coming. They will have cameras in no time.]

A couple of days later, before you could say “Intel’s-Atom-based-mobile-internet-device”, a MID with a rear camera was announced; and it speaks Italian: Ciao Itelco IDOL!

Itelco IDOL

Those of you following the MIDs evolution, will immediately recognize it as a rebranded Aigo 8880 or a Megabyte M528 or maybe a SFR M! PC Pocket… all various rebadged configurations of Option’s Compal JAX-10 design unveiled at Intel’s IDF this August.

This time with a confirmed rear camera.

It is on sale on Itelco’s site for 449 euros (~$573).

Itelco apparently rushed to publish it and had no time to fully translate the specs. Luckily, Poketables were there for us:

[The 320g device includes] a 800MHz Intel Atom Z500 CPU, [running Linux] 4.8-inch 800 x 480 touchscreen, and 4GB SSD…integrated 3.5G, 3-megapixel rear camera, and GPS.

I am inclined to announce the IDOL as the front-runner in the race for augmented reality device greatness, but since I am yet to receive a first hand confirmation of its use in an AR scenario, I’ll settle for an update of the “2008 High End Round Up”

.

Nice. Finally a contender with no major flaws. Back to the pursuit of the ultimate augmented reality game.

Let us know when you try the new ragazzo on the block.

Top Mobile Devices Compete for Augmented Reality Puissance

One of the most popular posts on this blog has been, and still is, my “Top 10 Augmented Reality Devices“.

Based on the feedback, you appreciated the condensed collection of various categories of devices, as well as the suggested criteria for evaluating upcoming devices. What you were missing is a practical head to head comparison of the top devices.

So ,here it is: the (mostly) complete, (roughly) unbiased, and accurate (at best) comparison of the top mobile devices for high end augmented reality.

How do you become a high-end AR device?

If you’re snug in my hand, have the power to track natural features and objects in live video, while interacting with the overlaid 3D graphics at 24 fps — and all looking good on the display – welcome to the high end club.

Now, take a deep breath, click…and dive right ahead: 5 devices, 22 criteria, rated from bad->fair->good->excellent, with no frills.

Contribution by Daniel Wagner

No big winners on this list.

Some have to be hacked to do AR; some might not see the light of day; others don’t even have cameras.

[What in the world are MIDs with no cameras doing on the list, you ask?

Patience my friends. The MIDs are coming. They will have cameras in no time.]

Have you seen any better high end device?

Should Nokia sneak up there?

What would you like to see next on the list?

Can Google’s G1 do augmented reality better then the iPhone?

The iPhone hype still rules the augmented reality devices charts, but as Walter Mossberg claims in his in-depth test drive:

that will all change on Oct. 22, when T-Mobile and Google bring out the G1, the first hand-held computer that’s in the same class as Apple’s iPhone.

Google's G1

iPhone

TechCrunch has its own view on the comparison.

Here’s my quick comparison of the two devices through an augmented reality lens:

They both have similar screen quality (480×320 65K color), a nice touch screen, similar CPU speed, GPU for graphics acceleration, accelerometers for sensing movement, and are both in the under $200 price category.

G1’s Screen size is reportedly narrower than the iPhone (3.2” compared with 3.5”) yet is bulkier (weighs 5.6 ounces to 4.7) and is much thicker; but it has a better camera resolution (3.1 mp compared with 2mp), though similar to iPhone – it can’t record video.

A downside for developers is the very low memory allocated for third party apps (128 megabytes) and the 1G storage space (expandable up to 8GB) which would seriously limit/irritate developers.

On the positive side it has 5 buttons, a real keyboard (you care?), a compass… and most importantly it’s built on Android, an open (yet unproven) Operating System  – which means easier to adapt for the specific needs of augmented reality applications. On the flip side, some developers hate the restriction that comes with Android: program in Java.

Bottom line, these are worthy competitors – each with its own advantages and caveats.  The real winner will be determined, as always, based on whoever offers the best content and the best reality experiences.

Remember WIFI ARMY? It was a very promising AR game for Android (made it to the #7 spot in my top 10 AR demos). But they went silent…their website is down. If you see something – say something.

Nintendo DS Wants to Augmented your Reality

Rumors about a new device that could enter the Augmented Reality game were confirmed yesterday by Nikkei Net. Wired revealed it to the rest of us – thank you very much. The new Nintendo DS model will launch this year in Japan.

What’s all the rage?

One of the most popular mobile game devices ever, now with a camera, better wireless capabilities, and a larger display – all packaged under $200?

Sounds like a killer augmented reality device to me.

Game devices such as the DS made it to the #6 spot on my “10 Best Augmented Reality Devices” review:

“But here’s the caveat: PSP and the DS need to be complemented with accessories such as camera, as well as accelerometers, positioning and ubiquitous connectivity capabilities – to be able to play in this game.”

Well, Nintendo is racing forward towards the fifth position (MIDs), leaving Sony in the rear view mirror.

Nikkei does point out that the camera function of DS could be integrated with gameplay, by allowing games to use the photos taken with the hardware.

Here’s your confirmation. Augmented Reality applications can be built for the next DS. Who’s going to take up the challenge?

On a related note, Gizmondo is serious about making a come back; like the phoenix, it’s rising from the ashes and promises to hit the stores this Winter.

It’s going to be a hot winter.