How Augmented Reality is Changing the World Cup

Coming back from my vacation, I had to catch up with a lot of AR related news. One topic though was so prevalent that I had to write about it in my coming back post. Obviously, I’m talking about the world cup in soccer. No other sports event gained such an attention from the AR community, and here are the results (don’t worry the last few ones are quite good):

Zakumi in FLARToolkit
The good: It seems to be created by a single programmer. Cheers for the initiative.
The god-awful bad: The music. I rather hear vuvuzelas than this one hit wonder.

Kappa’s “We Are One”
The good: The music is better than the previous video.
The bad: It’s in Chinese, so it’s hard for me to tell, but I think you need to download an application to play with it. Hello? This is 2010s, not prehistoric 2009!
Where: http://2010.kappa.com.cn/

Sony Ericsson World Cup Game
The good: You get to be a world famous soccer player while hitting soccer balls with your head in this game created by Total Immersion’s partner CherryPicks.
The bad: World famous soccer players are not necessarily handsome.
Where: http://www.sonyericsson.com.hk/fifa-game/

The world cup in a shopping mall
The good: Nice game, showing there are still some innovative things to do with a marker on a piece of paper. Made by another partner of TI – InterAct 3d.
The bad: Couldn’t they have the same application accessible through a webcam?

Junaio’s virtual soccer field overlay
The good: A brave attempt by Metaio to show game statistics for fans in the stadium in an unconventional way.
The bad: You have to be in South Africa to see it, and no videos are available. I’m a bit skeptic.
More info: http://augmentedblog.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/kick-it-like-augmented-reality/ where you can read about another application assisting you to find a good joint to see the next soccer match.

Zugara’s AR game in a banner
The good: Really cool creative, you need to “head in” corner kicks in this AD for AT&T.
The bad: AT&T. And people looking at you from behind while you’re jerking your head around.
Where: http://www.espn.com

KickBall AR
The good: Much better than AR Boomerang, this is the only mobile application on this list.
The bad: Only available for Samsung’s Bada operating system and the fact that Tom already wrote about it.

If I’ve missed anything (surely there’s a Layar layer for the games, no?), please feel free to add a comment.
So how AR is changing the world cup? Well it’s not, but for my first post in nearly three weeks, I had to try a title inspired by the linkbait generator. Anyhow, the usual “Weekly Linkfest” will return next week and as usual be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Looking for an Augmented Reality Casual Game

Looking at the list of best selling applications for the iPhone, I started thinking (usually a dangerous habit). On the one hand, augmented reality wants to be mobile, and the best avenue for mobile AR we currently have are smart phones. On the other hand, we often imagine augmented reality (and surely AR games) as immersive experiences – if you haven’t seen it yet, checkout Roku’s reward.

The thing is, I believe that currently “mobile” and “immersion” are conflicting goals. Our mobile platforms are way too limited to enable immersion:

  • Battery capacity is very restricted
  • Screen size is quite small
  • Processing power and sensor accuracy are low (but I expect these issues to be alleviated soon)

Even more importantly, most mobile game players are not “gamers”. They don’t have a day to spend in a quest around the city. Users require simple but challenging games which can be played during brakes, while waiting in line or while riding the bus. This also limits us to games that don’t require us to carry much additional resources to be played, such as a boards.

As augmented reality enthusiasts we can ignore those problems, and just wait for them to go away once head-up-displays, powered by fuel cells, become wildly available. But this is a counter-productive approach, and still targets gamers. There is another approach – casual games. They fit the character of most smart phone owners and play nicely on the current available hardware. Most importantly, casual games are amongst the most purchased applications on the various app stores (here’s WSJ covering the phenomenon called Angry Birds).

We need to explore casual augmented reality games. Smart phones are on the brink of making such games plausible (if they aren’t already) but we still have to tackle the hardest problem – designing a compelling gameplay. Obviously, games that only use the camera’s input as a backdrop to a game, such as Firefigther 360, won’t cut it.

I asked on twitter what could such a game be, and skry suggested: “On your daily walk/run, some of the course offers a round of DDR, hopscotch, or calisthenics”. Frogger across real roads is another interesting proposition. What do you think? Will there be an AR equivalent of Tetris, Sokoban and Angry Birds?

To get your creative juices flowing I’ve attached two casual AR games that I really like, though both are not based on smart phones. The first is Carcade, a game you can play while riding a train by students at Berlin University of the Arts. The other is Candy Wars by students of the Augmented Environments lab at Georgia Tech (though it’s cheating a little bit, since it requires additional objects).

Locatory – Play with Gamaray

Editor note: OOPS!
Originally this post was scheduled for early December, but somehow I forgot to publish it. Sorry Locatory guys!
——-

As veteran readers of this blog surely know, official development of Gamaray, an AR browser for Android was terminated, and its code has been open-sourced. Recently I’ve learned about an interesting project by a team from the Open University of the Netherlands, named Locatory, based on Gamaray’s code.

The game’s premise is admittedly not that exciting –

The concept of game is rather easy. Players can compete with each other and gather cards that are hidden in augmented reality. Once a card is taken, it can be dropped at a physical location (figure 3, B). When a card is dropped at the correct location, the player receives a point. (source)

but it’s exciting to see that one can create (semi) augmented reality games in relative ease (especially since Locatory’s own code is freely available). After all, how far is a game such as Locatory from a geo-caching game? If I were a student these days, I would have a go at it (adult life is full of compromises :/).

Learn more here.

ARGO – Learn Go with Augmented Reality

Go. A game with such simple rules, that is surprisingly hard to master. It’s the last bastion of humanity against the rising power of game playing artificial intelligence. And now, there’s a cool projected AR board that will help you hone your skills in the game.
Presented by a group of researchers from Japan and Finland, ARGO uses a projector to show game situations, concepts and problems on top of a regular Go board.

As shown in these modes, the advantage of our approach is to allow players to get information through the original interaction offered by the Go board and the stones. By superimposing information onto the board, players can concentrate on the match at hand or self-training without fragmenting their attention towards an instructional book and etc. This is important to make it possible for the players to allocate enough cognitive resources for recognizing the situations in the game. Using original game items as the basis preserves Ma and traditional look-and-feel, such as distance between players, touch of a wooden board and sound of stones.

I really like they used the stones to control the menus. Nice touch, and a cool project as a whole.

More information here.

Sportpong – It’s Fun Being a Paddle

In Switzerland you can play Pong. Yeah, I know, you can play Pong for about 30 years all around the world, but you could never play it like this – outside, with your legs serving as paddles.

It’s nothing new either – you could have rent the setup for the game for at least a couple of years. The company behind it writes:

The setting is very simple: a reflector on each foot is the only physical tool to interact with Sportpong. The interface is integrated in the field which is projected on the floor. The players control the game with their feet, nothing else. This control is intuitive, naturalistic and very direct.

I really, really, can’t wait to try it out. Last year I had a session of Atari Pong (the first in twenty years) and enjoyed it immensely. This looks even better. Would be great having it on ARE or ISMAR.
More details on sportpong.ch via SwissMiss.

Spads and Fokkers – Brainy AR

I always enjoy featuring a hobbyist augmented reality project, and Davide Byron’s (aka @Need2Revolt) game “Spads and Fokkers” is especially pleasing. On the face of it, it doesn’t look anything special, two virtual planes having a dog fight, using a marker for easy augmented reality:

The twist is in the method the user may exploit in order to control the planes, using a brain-computer interface. Writes Byron:

As for the control mechanism, we actually have some devices that are able to read brianwaves and infere what the user is thinking about, so the choice was easy. The newest and most promising headset for thought control is the epoc, not yet on the market, but with a free SDK I can play with. With this technologies I was actually able to develop something that works and doesn’t need any special stuffs you can’t buy off the shelf. In the story, the players controls 3 airplane each, but in practice it was too hard to simultaneusly control 3 airplanes, so I reduced the number to a single airplane for each player. Furthermore, since the airplanes are not projected into the real world, it’s suggested you wear a HMD.

You can download the binaries and source code and learn more about this interesting project here.

Yummy Cereal by Dassault Systemes

Yes, the following video is nothing more than a demo for Dassault Systemes AR campaign for the feature film “Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard“. I usually don’t give such videos a full post, especially when there’s no site I can link to, but it seems like a cute game, and what happens at 1:25 surprised me.

Maybe I’m too jaded with AR campaigns that such a trick surprised me, but it made me smile, and that’s good enough.
(via @lavalvirtual)

Space Invaders in AR

Arcade Reality is a game, originally developed a couple of years ago for the Palm Treo, by Szymon Ulatowski, the man behind ToySpring, which has an interesting premise. For years, space invaders were slaughtered in video games by arcade dwellers around the world. Now, they stage their revenge in real world and the player must shoot them down via his/her mobile phone:

Recently Ulatowski has ported the game to the iPhone. While on the Treo it used some basic video registration to place the invaders around you, on the iPhone it takes advantage of the compass and accelerometer. Although it does make the alien spaceships a little wobbly, it still looks like the best game of its type currently available for the iPhone and a lot of fun:

It will cost you $3 on the appstore. More details can be found here.

Future of Social Networking and Games

As you may have noticed, I took some days off blogging. Can’t get myself to blog about yet another AR browser (YAARB™) or some run of the mill augmented reality campaign.

However, futuristic concepts still excite me. Check out Matthew Buckland’s latest post. With the help of designer Philip Langley, Buckland has conjured a series of illustrations giving us a peak into social network turbo-charged with augmented reality. Below is one such illustration, showing you what’s going on in the neighborhood.

Can be quite useful when looking for a new home. You can find the other illustrations (and this one in far higher resolution) here.

Another interesting concept that popped today is PlayboxAR, which is a glimpse to what can become the future of augmented reality games:

This is actually a new video of a rather old concept by one Soho Marky.

The disparity between these concepts and reality reminds us that we are still at the very beginning of a long road. Maybe AR is hot right now, but in the future it’s going to be fabulous.

(via @abc3d and The Future Digital Life)

Pseudo AR Games FTW!

A short post to keep you warm while I’m working on a longer series of posts I hope you all find interesting. Anyway, just two days ago I wrote about Acrossair new shooting game, Virus Killer 360:

And I also mentioned iPhone ARKit, an interesting open source project to facilitate augmented reality development for the iPhone. What happens when you merge the two together? this –

It was created by a Japaneses developer going by the nickname mswar, by forking the iPhone ARKit source code and adding OpenGL and GPS geo-positioning. I don’t call it augmented reality, because it has nothing to do with our reality, but I do think it has a potential to supply some moments of fun.
More details here (in Japanese).