Today Stop-Motion Animation, Tomorrow Augmented Reality

Check out what two guys can do with stop-motion and 222 T-shirts.

Now imagine what you could do with augmented reality and just two T-shirts.

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.

Why People Get Excited About Augmented Reality

Really, Why do people get excited about augmented reality ?

I was stumped by this question in an interview for the NY Times and my first reaction was: duh! ’cause it’s friggin’ awesome!

But when you think about it, people get excited about Augmented Reality because…because they never thought it’d actually become possible…

Science Fiction has been a major part of our culture for generations and is ingrained in our belief system. Even non Sci-Fi geeks, are familiar with concepts such as teleporting, time travel, or X-ray vision.

We were led to believe these things are “Fiction” and impossible in real life.

Well, up until augmented reality has demonstrated otherwise.


Reducing business travel is not only good for the environment; it’s also great for humans. However teleconferencing systems haven’t been able to reproduce the immediacy and intimacy of multiple people actually occupying the same room.

With AR – realtime holograms are possible and teleporting is a snap.

Just like when MR. Rabbit Visits Barcelona in Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End:

IN DOWNTOWN BARCELONA, three days later:
The rabbit hopped onto the unoccupied wicker chair and thence to the middle of the table, between the teacups and the condiments. It tipped its hat forst at Alfred Vaz and then at Gunberk Braun and Keiko Mitsuri. “Have I got a deal for you!” it said. Altogether, it was an unremarkable example of its type.

Alfred reached out and swiped his hand through the image, just to emphasize his own substance. “We’re the ones with the deal”….

Braun was as ephemeral as the rabbit, but he projected a dour earnestness that was quite consistent with his real personality.

…or as illustrated perfectly in this tongue and cheek video:

And here is a real demo by The Augmented Environments Lab at Georgia Tech:

Time Travel


OK, we can’t REALLY time travel with AR, but we can certainly see how things looked like in the past, or places will look like in the future.  We can experience that reality around us from a first person view.

Larry Niven described such a fascinating scene in Dream Park back in 1981:

“Please stay on the green path,” the soft, well-modulated male voice requested. “What green-” Tony started to say. But a glowing green aisle ten feet across appearred in the middle of the street.
“We need strong magic to do what we do today,” the voice continued. “We are going to visit the old Los Angeles that disappeared in May of 1985. As long as you stay on the path, you should be perfectly safe.”
…”This is the Los Angeles of 2051″ the voice continued, “but only a few hundred feet from here begins another world, one seldom seen by human eyes.”
A banner blocked Wileshir Boulevard. Thegreen path humped and carried them over it. Beyond lay ruin. Buildings balanced precariously on rotted and twisted beams, The were old, of archaic styles, and seawater lapped at their foundations.
Ollie nudged Gwen, his face aglow. “Will you look at that?” It was a flooded parking lot, ancient automibiles half covered with water. “That looks like a Mercedes. Did you ever see what they looked like before they merged with Toyota?”

Here is a (tiny) contemporary proof that it’s not only possible in sci-fi books:

…or a more elaborate project to revive Pompei

X-Ray Vision

Every kid (born after 1950) knows what X-Ray vision is, right?

Everyone wants it, but only Superman actually has it.

Want to bet it’s possible for anyone in reality?

Well, thanks to augmented reality, Ben Avery from The Wearable Computer Lab can can give it to you:

For the whole story see our post on X-ray vision.

So what have we learned?

Augmented reality can make our wildest sci-fi dreams come true.

What sci-fi dreams do you want to experience in reality?

…And don’t forget, my friends – never stop dreaming!

11 Industries to be Reinvented with Augmented Reality

We have been raving about how Augmented Reality will reinvent reality. Which slices of “reality” will be affected by AR first? Researchers and entrepreneurs worldwide are already plotting its impact on specific industries.

Investors – here’s a chance to educate yourselves.

Here are 11 of my favorite clips depicting industries reinvented with augmented reality:
(Credits inside the videos)

1. Advertising

Despite being the first on the ar band wagon, the $600 Trillion ad industry has used AR as a gimmick. It has the potential to literally bring consumers to products and totally reinvent itself.

2. Art

Street art democratized minus the vandalism.

Here is another fantastic example – a free form street art.

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3. Design

Real-collaboration, real-time, real-life design

4. Entertainment

Entertainment content could reach you in every part of your day AND be relevant to your surroundings.

5. Health care

Doctors: you have the information – now use it in context of your patient.

6. Learning

Books reinvented. Gutenberg must be turning in his grave.

7. Maintenance

See through walls, floors and roofs? awesome dude – I wanna be in maintenance!

8. Personal Productivity

No more being glued to a screen. No more screens. No more (visible) hardware.

9. Retail

Stores and products talk to you about themselves (but only when you want…)

And from the consumer perspective – shopping will be reinvented

10. Tourism

Your personal tourist guide, anywhere you go.

11. Training

User manuals are dead. Watch the instructions live in your field of view.

What industry would you like to reinvent?

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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