Live from ISMAR ’08: Augmented Reality – What Users Are Saying

Everyone is back from lunch and the afternoon session is on: User studies in augmented reality.

First on stage is Benjamin Avery to talk (with an animated Australian accent) about User Evaluation of See-Through Vision for Mobile Outdoor Augmented Reality. This

The study took users outdoors in various scenarios to test the performance of AR vision using see through displays. Then, they compared it with a second group that watched the video through a desktop computer

[link to paper, videos, images to come]

The result demonstrates complex trade-off between AR and desktop visualizations. AR system provided increased accuracy in locating specific points in the scene. AR visualization was quite simple, beating the desktop in tracking and in better visualization.

Stay tuned for the demo (which was hauled all the way from Australia to Cambridge)!

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Next on stage is Cindy Robertson from Georgia Tech (Honorable mention in ISMAR 2007) and she discusses An Evaluation of Graphical Context in Registered AR, Non-Registered AR, and Heads-Up Displays.

How are users affected when there are many registration errors  or in other words when when tracking is not perfect? Can the user handle it better if a graphics context is provided?

They tested it with a set of tasks encompassing placing virtual Lego blocks with groups using Registered AR, Non-Registered AR, and Heads-Up Displays.

Following an exhaustive analysis of the resulted data they uncovered the following insights:

  • Head movement and memorization increased performance
  • Head movement affected perceived mental workload and frustration
  • When you have graphics obstructing your view, and switching between it and real world is frustrating
  • HUD-visible case was surprisingly faster than the other cases. But people hated it…

Final conclusion: Registered outperformed both the non-registered AR and graphics displayed on a HUD. Non-registered AR does not offer any significant improvement.

Future plans are to test home-like scenarios and impose more complex tasks.

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On stage Mark Livingston is getting ready to talk about The Effect of Registration Error on Tracking Distant Augmented Objects.

A basic assumption is that registration errors limits performance of users in AR. “We wanted to measure the sources (such errors are noise, latency, position and orientation error) and see the affect on the user – and then be able to write requirements for future systems.”

For this study, they used the nVisorST.

The tasks were trying to measure the users ability to understand behaviors and situational awareness in the AR application: following a target (car) when buildings stand in between.

Conclusions are straight forward though somewhat surprising:

  • Latency has significant effect on performance and response time – was the worse.
  • Noise was disliked but did not have significant impact on performance
  • Orientation error fifn’t have significant effect
  • Weather had significant impact on results: darker weather delivered improved performances. Brightness was a major distraction.

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From the ISMAR Program

User Studies (from ISMAR ’08 program)

  • User Evaluation of See-Through Vision for Mobile Outdoor Augmented Reality
    Benjamin Avery, Bruce H. Thomas, Wayne Piekarski
  • An Evaluation of Graphical Context in Registered AR, Non-Registered AR, and Heads-Up Displays
    Cindy Robertson, Blair MacIntyre, Bruce Walker
  • The Effect of Registration Error on Tracking Distant Augmented Objects
    Mark A. Livingston, Zhuming Ai

Live from ISMAR ’08 in Cambridge: Enjoy the Weather…

“Enjoy the weather” uttered sarcastically a kindhearted British witch (aka air hostess) while we were leaving the aircraft; surprisingly – we did in the first day. We were then promised this is accidental and surely the last day of summer. Splendid.

Venice? nope, Cambridge!

Venice, Italy? nope, Cambridge, UK!

I have landed in Cambridge, UK (where people go to augment their reality) and all I ever heard about it – is true: British meadow green, majestic 600 year old buildings, cosmopolitan young folks, fish cakes…a combination that gives this university city its unique aura; a great setting for the event starting tomorrow – reality only better, at ISMAR ’08.

St. Catherine College - can't ask for a nicer place to stay...

St. Catherine College - can't ask for a nicer place to stay...

For those who couldn’t make it, stay tuned for a live coverage of ISMAR ’08, the world’s best augmented reality event.

Featuring AR pioneers such as: Tom Drummond, Paul McIlroy, Mark Billinghurst, Blair MacIntyre, Daniel Wagner, Wayne Piekarski, Uli Bockholt (Fraunhofer IGD), Peter Meier, Mark A. Livingston, Diarmid Campbell, David Murray, Rolf R. Hainich, Oliver Bimber, Hideo Saito and many more —

— overing topics such as: Industrial augmented reality, hand-held augmented reality, displays, user studies, applications, layouts, demos, state-of-the-art AR, and don’t miss the highly anticipated tracking competition.

Welcome all speakers and attendees to the event, and don’t forget: look right first!

If you are at the event (or not) and want to chat, share thoughts, or ask questions – leave a comment here or send a message on facebook.

Augmented Reality Panel at Virtual Worlds Conference

For those of you who missed Virtual Worlds last week in LA, and therefore found it hard to attend the Augmented Reality Panel – David Orban was there for you.

Here are all 59 minutes of the discussion he recorded and uploaded. Thanks David!

Roo, the panel host, brilliantly captured a blow by blow of the discussion and included slides that were used to illustrate the panel. Kudos to Roo!

From the event program:

Augmented Reality: Virtual Interfaces to Tangible Spaces
Marc Goodman, Director, Alcatel-Lucent
Eric Rice, Producer, Slackstreet Studios
Blair MacIntyre, Associate Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Director, GVU Center Augmented Environments Lab, Georgia Institute of Technology
David Orban, Founder & Chief Evangelist, WideTag, Inc.
Andrew (Roo) Reynolds, Portfolio Executive for Social Media, BBC Vision (moderator)

Now repeat after me this tongue twister: I virtually participated in the Virtual Worlds panel about augmented reality and I really augmented my world.

Next, we are off to ISMAR ’08 September 15-18th in Cambridge, UK!

The End Of Museums As We Know It

As the light at the end of the (summer vacation) tunnel is almost insight, let me ask you a reflective question:

Where do kids prefer to be on a summer day:

(a) Museums

(b) Theme parks

(c) Staying at home and playing video games

Any volunteers for (a) ?…

What if you could combine all three into one?

What if you could transform learning about cultures, art, science, history – into a fun experience for kids? What if museums were as much fun as outdoor adventures and video games combined?

This fantasy is becoming a reality thanks to efforts by pioneers around the world.

Here are my picks of the 4 5 best augmented reality tours that are reinventing museums:

1. Lifeplus in Pompei

Pompei Ladies in an afternoon promenade in front of your eyes

Breathing new life into the ruined streets of Pompei

Visitors stroll in the real streets of Pompei, while watching thru their glasses, virtual scenes of city natives living their lives as if it’s 79 AD, minutes before the eruption of Vesuvius.

This EU funded project was lead by MIRALab – university of Geneva in 2004. See more at Lifeplus.

2. DNP-Louvre Museum lab

A behind the scenes look at exhibits

A mobile device with live video, shows on the display virtual objects such as a balloon that guides visitors through the exhibits. The climax of this tour arrives (1:37) when shards of an antique Islamic platter are virtually reconstructed to create the real platter.

Kudos to Metaio who developed the experience for DNP-Louvre Museum Lab in Tokyo, though they should try trimming the bulky device…

See more at DNP-Louvre Museum lab in Tokyo

3. Mobile Augmented Reality Quest (MARQ) –         Expedition Schatzsuche

Treasure hunt in a museum (in Austria)

A team oriented game where museum visitors play the role of investigators required to solve 3d virtual puzzles surrounding exhibits. Successful completion of puzzles reveal further steps of the story.

Beyond the new type of interaction with museum exhibits, MARQ introduces multi user collaboration: collected virtual items can be shared between groups, and “guided tour replays” can be viewed at any time – on the Gizmondo (RIP) gaming device.

This novice approach to experiencing Museum exhibits was developed by the Graz University team in Vienna, led by Daniel Wagner and Dieter Schmalstieg. It was shot at the Kärner Landesmuseum in Klagenfurt/Carinthia.

See more about MARQ at Studierstube

And here is an older project from the same team: Enigma Rally at the Vienna Technical Museum.

4. Rome Reborn, now Augmented

Undo the barbarians

Rome Reborn is the largest computer simulation of an ancient city. Cool. But what Fraunhofer (Institute for Computer Graphics Research) has done with it is way cool: walk among the ruins of the Roman Forum and point your Vaio UMPC anywhere to see buildings being reconstructed.

See more about the technology used at InstantReality

5. Voices of Oakland

If a cemetery were a museum

Blair MacIntyre and his team at GA Tech have done the impossible: they have turned the Oakland cemetery in Atlanta to a visitor magnet – all thanks to an augmented reality tour which can be experienced on a cell phone. You have to see it to believe it.

Unfortunately, the cemetery was destroyed last year by a hurricane. So the students of subsequent years wont be able to keep playing with it.

6. Science Museum in Paris

Navigate Museums with AirTags

A new implementation by Tonchidot for La Villette Museum in Paris where visitors use AirTags provided by the Museum or by users to enrich their museum experience.
In the creators own words:

Sekai camera turns a museum into a “living” internet environment…The real world becomes “clickable”

7. Digital Binocular Station for Cultural Museums

A stationary Augmented Reality device developed by Mind Space Solutions. Because it is fixed to a single location, it allows the use photorealistic, cinema-quality visuals, and compensate for the lack of parallax by presenting everything in stereoscopic 3D.

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What are the 10 ingredients to augment a museum tour?

  1. A practical augmented reality device (avoid backpacks and bulky displays) with visual tracking software
  2. High quality 3D models of exhibits, and how they looked and behaved in the past (and future?)
  3. A combination of learning and fun with a really really good story
  4. Breath life into inanimate objects
  5. Sprinkle some sound when necessary
  6. Incinerate verbose plaques; say what you have to say in 2 to 5
  7. Indoor tours are great; outdoor tours are even better
  8. Multi user interaction and collaboration
  9. Location based services, including (fun) navigation instructions
  10. Did I mention it has to be fun?
…and don’t forget to send the kids home with a souvenir DVD: “my augmented tour at the museum”

Didn’t make the list…

The following efforts didn’t make the list, mostly because they forgot ingredient #10…

Have you seen other augmented museum tours? Share your experiences!