Apple Patents Augmented Reality Displays

As Apple Insider reports today, the US patent office just published two interesting patent fillings by Apple in January of last year.

The first, titled “Synchronized, interactive augmented reality displays for multifunction devices” is a very broad term patent and discuss methods to identify object, display an information layer on top of a live video feed and share that layer between users.
The second, and surely much more exciting is simply titled “Transparent electronic devices” and concerns “A method and system for displaying images on a transparent display of an electronic device … the display screens may allow for overlaying of images over real world viewable objects”

. Or in other words – transparent iPads are coming!!!11221!. Seriously though here’s quoting again from the patent:

These overlays whether in handheld or other electronic devices 10, may provide an “augmented reality” interface in which the overlays virtually interact with real-world objects. For example, the overlays may be transmitted onto a display screen that overlays a museum exhibit, such as a painting. The overlay may include information relating to the painting that may be useful or interesting to viewers of the exhibit. Additionally, overlays may be utilized on displays in front of, for example, landmarks, historic sites, or other scenic locations. The overlays may again provide information relating to real-world objects as they are being viewed by a user. These overlays may additionally be utilized on, for example, vehicles utilized by tourists. For example, a tour bus may include one or more displays as windows for users. These displays may present overlays that impart information about locations viewable from the bus

Interesting stuff, don’t you think?
More information at Apple Insider.

How Will You Protect Your Customer’s Data Exhaust?

Last week on The Future Digital Life, I posted about the Dangers of Computer Vision.  The post garnered a fair amount of interest but it is a question that’s a tad ahead of its time.  We don’t have cameras greedily sucking up information by the bucketfuls right now.

But we do have GPS for our augmented reality apps.

Cue the Imperial March soundtrack and bring out Apple’s turtlenecked front man in role of Darth Jobs.  A recent “bug” was uncovered in iPhone’s software that allowed tracking of the phone user’s location.

Apple claims the data is not the actual smartphone location:

“The location data that researchers are seeing on the iPhone is not the past or present location of the iPhone, but rather the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding the iPhone’s location, which can be more than one hundred miles away from the iPhone.”

Either way, it’s a perception that a breech of trust has occurred.  Rather than ramble on about the dangers of this data, and since many of the readers of Games Alfresco are software designers, I thought I would pose a question.  One that won’t be that surprising if you read the title of my post.

Sound off, software developers of the rabid interwebs…

How will you protect your customer’s data exhaust?

Weekly Linkfest

Time again for another bout of augmented reality links:

This week’s video shows the creative things you can do using computer vision, projector and balls. It’s called Bounce, and apparently was made by Eberhard Gräther as a student project. If you like it, I suggest checking Gräther’s site for other interesting (non AR related) projects:

(via Development Memo For Ourselves)

Have a great week!

Augmented Driving on your iPhone

For you experienced developers, the first question you’ll be asking is, “how are they going to do a car HUD without video access on the iPhone.”  So I’ll answer that question first.

Currently, video recording is not yet supported. However, the system takes snapshots of the screen at different intervals. The standard interval is set to about 10 seconds. If one vehicle is tracked this interval is reduced to 5 seconds. If a vehicle is close ahead or more than one vehicle is tracked, a snapshot is taken every 2 seconds.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk features on this new product from imaGinyze (though technically, its only submitted to the App Store and not yet out for purchase.)

The app does a pretty good job of tracking the lane you’re in, speeds, and distance to other cars.   And it switches between units easily for which ever side of the pond you’re on.  The app provides additional safety features giving you a lane switch warning, though if it switches between the 10 second frame interval then its not going to work so well.  Yet another reason Apple needs to give up the goods on the video access.

The functionality of the app shows what the GM windshield might do to improve the safety of its vehicles.  Though I really wish it would give that “Vehicle Ahead” warning to the a-hole tailgating me on the open highway and not to me.

More information:

Augmented Driving for your iPhone 3GS including the following features:

– Dynamic augmented reality overlays for lanes and vehicles
– Head-up display (HUD) for system and status information
– Lane detection and lane change warning
– Vehicle detection and low distance information
– System auto-calibration for easy setup
– Many configuration options and quick manual

The system is designed to work in good lighting conditions during daytime for visible lane markings on highways and country roads and for detection of regular cars. For operation, a fix mount is required.

Dell Tablet Mini 5 For Augmented Reality

While the Apple iPad Tablet announcement last month was disappointing for augmented reality developers and enthusiasts, the details about the upcoming Dell Tablet will make you salivate.

The Mini 5 will have a five inch touchscreen with both front and user facing cameras allowing full augmented reality capabilities.  WiFi and 3G connectivity allow enough bandwidth and the 1.0 GHz Snapdragon Qualcomm processor will give the Mini 5 the juice it needs to power resource-expensive AR apps.  It’ll run the latest version of the Android OS which gives it AR credentials right away since there are many apps already made for that system.

The price plan will affect the market that it’s trying to fill, though Dell says they will price it “competitively”.  But I don’t think I could have asked for better features from a tablet for augmented reality.  The weight of the device might impact AR since holding it up will be harder than a smartphone and since it’s a touchscreen, will you want to hold it with one hand and navigate with the other?  I hope some AR developers can incorporate voice commands into their games and products.

And while the screen might be too small in this version, they have eluded to a suite of tablet products so maybe a larger iPad sized version might come out in the future.  Personally, I already have a free smartphone from work, so a tablet that does different things on a bigger screen would be appealing to me.

Will this be a killer device for AR?  Probably not.  But it’ll give developers a bigger landscape to play on and increase the number of AR devices on the market.  The front facing camera certainly makes is a no-brainer for video conferencing.  Just add some facial recognition and you can talk to your kids while out on the road with bunny ears attached to your head.

[Via Wired]

Who Should Attend The Augmented Reality Event in Santa Clara, CA June 2nd & 3rd, 2010

Over the last 2 years we have seen growing interest in Augmented Reality in various events – panels, dev camps, meetups – and many more. Due to growing demand for knowledge and expertise in augmented reality (AR), a group of AR industry insiders, backed by the AR Consortium have put together the first commercial event dedicated to advance the business of augmented reality.

How is are2010 different from ISMAR…

…previously touted here as the “World’s best Augmented Reality event”?

Well, ISMAR is still the best AR event for the scientific community. If you want to learn about (or present) the latest advancements in AR research – you should be in Seoul this October for ISMAR 2010. However, for the rest of us, who wish to take advantage of AR in practice, in the commercial world, and build a business around it – there was a gaping hole.

That is, until now.

Meet the Augmented Reality Event.

Who’s this event for?

For established and start up AR companies –

For established and start up AR companies (such as Total Immersion, Metaio, Acrossair, Ogmento, Circ.us, Mobilizy, Layar, Zugara, Neogence, whurleyvision, Chaotic Moon Studios, and many more) – are2010 is a stage to showcase their products and services; a venue to form partnerships, learn about latest innovations, and most importantly speak with clients. Bruno Uzzan, CEO of Total Immersion will wow the audience with a cutting edge augmented reality show; Peter Meier, CTO of Metaio, will speak about his companies latest products. Early stage startups and individual developers will receive guidance from Cole Van Nice (Chart Venture Partners) for how to build a successful company in the AR space, including raising funding (from VCs that actually invest in AR), licensing technology and IP, legal aspects, forging partnerships, etc. Christine Perey will speak about the scope of the mobile AR industry today and it’s growth trajectory.

For Developers –

For developers, are2010 is a window into the latest AR algorithms, engines and programming tools. Learn from case studies and post mortems delivered by experienced developers from the leading companies in the space. Blair MacIntyre, director of the GVU Center’s Augmented Environments Lab at Georgia Tech, will speak about his experience with tools and technologies while developing augmented reality games. Daniel Wagner, one of the leading mobile AR researchers in the world, will bring developers into the wonderful world of mobile AR. Patrick O’Shaughnessey, which has lead the development of more webcam-based AR campaigns than anyone else I know – will share his knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Mike Liebhold, Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future , will speak about Technology foundations of an Open ARweb. Gene Becker, co-founder of AR DevCamp, will dive into augmented reality and ubiquitous computing, and Sean White, a pioneer in Green Tech AR will suggest concrete examples of how AR can help save the planet

For Mobile, Hardware, and Platform Companies

For Mobile, Hardware, and Platform companies (such as Vuzix, Nokia, Qualcomm, Intel, QderoPateo, Microsoft, Google, Apple etc.) are2010 consists of a captive audience to launch and showcase their latest devices, processors, AR glasses, sensors, etc. The best collective minds of the AR commercial world will be onsite to articulate the market demand characteristics and help influence the design of future hardware.

For Clients and Agencies –

For clients and agencies in entertainment, media, publishing, education, healthcare, government, tourism, and many more – are2010 offers everything you need to know about AR: how to leverage augmented reality to advance your brand, attract and keep your customers, and how to build successful campaigns and products that will delight users, including postmortems of landmark augmented reality projects.

Jarrell Pair, CTO and a founder of LP33.tv, will speak about “Augmented Reality in Music Entertainment: Then and Now”, Brian Selzer, co-founder and President of Ogmento, will deliver a crash course for clients and agencies about how to leverage AR in marketing campaigns. Marshal Kirkpatrick, lead blogger for ReadWriteWeb, will share the results of his AR survey collecting feedback from dozens of AR developers and their experience in delivering AR campaigns and apps. Kent Demain, designer of the visual effects in Minority Report, will open our minds with the talk: “Taking Hollywood visual effects spectacle out of the theatre and into your world”. And of course…

For any AR Enthusiast –

Are you an AR Enthusiast? If so, you’re going to feel like a kid in a candy store at ARE, with a soon-to-be unforgettable keynote by Bruce Sterling, demo gallery, exhibitors from leading companies, artists installations from AR artists such as Eric Gradman and Helen Papagiannis, and many more surprises.

If you are into Augmented Reality – are2010 is the one event you should attend this year.

Want to join the event? Early registration is now open!

Apple’s iPad Camera Fail

Unless you’ve been living in a box today, you know that Apple finally unveiled the tablet iPad today. The biggest surprise about the announcement was the lack of a camera on the lap sized PC. No camera, really? If you don’t believe it, check the official spec page.

Besides the implications for augmented reality, which I’ll get to in a moment, the iPad not having a camera is a giant fail.  I actually expected the iPad to have two cameras.  One forward-looking so the iPad could function as a giant Polaroid and the other user-facing so videos could be recorded.  We could forgive eliminating one of them, probably the forward-looking one since its so big, but not having the user-facing camera is inexcusable.

The series of tubes we call the Internet has moved beyond simple text.  People want to record and upload videos straight to YouTube without having to yank out their dust-covered hand held or use Skype to call their friends while they’re watching the game.

The Apple iPad not having even one camera is like hooking up satellite without DVR.  Sure you can do it, but why?

Of course, I’m being overly melodramatic here.

The real point to the iPad is competition for the Kindle, eReader and the Nook.  Apple wants to revolutionize the way we read magazines, books and newspapers.  Functionality for augmented reality isn’t even an afterthought.  How many people are using their camera lying in bed reading an interactive book?

And is this a major setback for augmented reality?  Not really.  A giant-sized magic lens would add a fun new canvas to play with, but really wouldn’t be a game changer.  Additionally, Apple isn’t expecting the tablet market to come even close to the smartphone market in sales.

So in the end, the iPad is a fail for augmented reality, but will probably give Jeff Bezos nightmares for months as he wonders how he’s going to compete against a Pentium 286 when he’s selling a Commodore 64.

And maybe, just maybe, Steve Jobs is still working on a see-through AR-enabled HMD.  Then I’d say, all is forgiven Stevie, I’m coming home to Apple.