Has Augmented Reality Arrived to the iPhone ?

Fellow augmented reality enthusiasts!

Checkout the news in the iPhone 3.1 Beta 2 SDK (you need to login.)

It may treasure what we’ve all been waiting for. The elusive API. The holy access to  live video on the iPhone.

We will never know if the Open Letter to Apple had any dent on Apple’s decision to introduce the new APIs – but for a moment – we are blissful.

By tomorrow we’ll know for sure if it works. What ever the outcome, at least we made a lot of friends and discovered a swarm of AR developers eager to bring the augmented reality experience to the masses.

Thank you all for the overwhelming response!

And let me challenge you:

The first to confirm the above theory will be indicted to

Games Alfresco’s Hall of Fame.

Thanks Mike for the tip!

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I Had A MID Night Dream

The US celebrated Martin Luther King’s day last week, which above all reminds us to keep dreaming – sometimes dreams do come true.

I had a dream too…and in my dream, an amazing Mobile Internet Device (MID) was released for our augmented reality experiences.

(See a list of existing MIDs)

my ar device

Here is a first take at defining the dream MID for augmented reality (2009-2010 time frame):

  • Manufacturer – a credible leader, with a friendly content distribution channel
  • Price – Ideally sub $200. Initially not more than $400.
  • CPU – Dual core 1.3 Mhz, with a Floating Point Unit, SIMD extensions
  • GPU – integrated with performance similar to TI’s OMAP3 and NVidia’s Tegra (the competition!)
  • Screen – 4.5 Inch, Min 800×480 resolution, Multitouch, and a very bright screen
  • Camera – A GOOD CAMERA with a quality lens, video recording at 320×240 or preferably 640×480 (VGA) at 30fps at a good quality (noise, contrast, colors, etc) even under low lighting. Zoom and auto focus a bonus. Front camera – bonus.
  • Low latency for getting the the camera image to the CPU/GPU and in turn to the display
  • Zero-latency video output from the device for a head-worn display (digital or analog)
  • Low-latency inputs for external sensors (such as a tracker on the head-worn display) and cameras (on the head-worn display).
  • GOOD graphics drivers, Open GL 2.0 (unlike the current Intel OpenGL drivers on Atom which are almost a show stopper for many projects…)
  • Device size – roughly 130x70x12mm (so that there’s little margin around the screen)
  • Weight – less than 200g
  • OS – The best Mobile Linux out there, with C/C++ based SDK and a good emulator. Also as an alternative: Win Mobile support (better dev tools)
  • Buttons – Very few. QWERTY keyboard is a nice to have.
  • Connectivity – 3G/GSM, WIFI, Bluetooth
  • Sensors – A-GPS, accelerometer, 3DOF Gyro sensors
  • 3-axis compass
  • Storage – 8G and expandable
  • Memory – 1G RAM
  • Battery – Min. 3 hours while in full use of camera and network
  • Extensibility – video out for an HMD, USB port on it.
  • Openness – open source…

So what do you think?

This spec was actually a swift response to a challenge presented by Intel’s Ashley McCorkle.

Many thanks for the contribution by Daniel-Good camera!-Wagner, Steven-don’t forget latency!-Feiner , Bruce-a couple of extras-Thomas, and Charles-Very bright screen-Woodward.

In ISMAR 2009 in Orlando, we are planning to organize a round table discussion for this very purpose. Would you be interested in participating?


The experts and enthusiasts are weighing in, and as it usually is in reality (as opposed to dreams) remind us that we need to consider trade-offs.

Charles for example says he would trade off battery time for a lighter device. He also suggests that for professional use – a higher price ($1000 range) for a higher quality device would be reasonable.

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?

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.

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?