Vuzix Wrap 920AR Video Eyewear at CES 2010

The Vuzix Wrap 920AR aren’t the sexiest of specs, but they do perform the function of AR glasses. I got a chance to see this setup at ISMAR09 which they’re now showing at CES 2010.

The specs for the glasses look like:

The stereo camera pair delivers a single 1504 x 480 side-by-side image that can be viewed in 3D stereoscopic video, while the video eyewear provides an unprecedented 67-inch display as seen from 10 feet. The Wrap 920AR also includes a 6 Degree-of-Freedom Tracker, which allows for absolute accuracy of roll pitch and yaw and also X, Y and Z positioning in 3D space

Vuzix Wrap 920AR Specifications:

• 1/3-inch wide VGA Digital Image Sensor
• Resolution: 752H x 480W
• Includes 6 Degree-of-Freedom Tracker
• Frame rate: 60 fps
• Dynamic range: >55dB linear; >80-100dB in HiDy mode
• Shutter efficiency: >99%
• ADC Resolution: 10-bit column parallel
• High-speed USB 2.0
• PC and Mac compatible
• System requirements: Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, Windows7, Mac OS X 10.4.9 or higher
• MSRP: $799.99

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/lpcyMn6UVKY&amp]

They probably won’t be worn in public anytime soon, but some creative programmers could create interesting house-only interactive avatars or AR spaces. While some might scoff at this idea, see this video from Georgia Tech last year to see how even semi-cheesy graphics can make augmented reality immersive. Having played the old VR game Dactyl Nightmare in the 1990s, the head-tracking really creates the illusion of reality.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8c6U7dpI7g]

We haven’t seen any developers put together a product that takes advantage of these $800 glasses, but hopes are that exposure at CES 2010 will bring more interest. The only thing I’ve seen using the setup is the Whisper Deck from Craig Kapp.

Maybe later this year we might see some products that would entice the hard core AR enthusiast to fork out the cash for these un-sexy specs.

Open Letter to Apple: Let us Augment Reality with the iPhone!

A letter sent to Apple Developer Relations.

Dear Apple,

We are a collection of augmented reality (AR) enthusiasts and professionals (from business and academia), who have been working on a multitude of AR apps for the iPhone. These apps are poised to change the way people interact with the real world.

But here is the rub: we are currently unable to publish these apps on the app store because the iPhone SDK lacks public APIs for manipulating live video.

We are asking Apple to provide a public API to access live video in real time, on the iPhone.
We will be happy to offer additional technical details.

The impact of augmented reality (AR) on our lives could be as significant as the introduction of the PC.
In 10 years, we believe augmented reality will change the way everyone experiences travel, design, training, personal productivity, health care, entertainment, games, art, and advertising (videos).

Looking back just a few years, AR pioneers had to hack a slew of components into ridiculously large backpacks and HUDs, and be confined to rigged environments. Nowadays, it comes in friendly, affordable packages and the iPhone is one of the first devices to have it all – except for a public API.

The battle to determine the winning device has already begun; a public API to access live video will give the iPhone a lucrative ticket to compete.
We believe Apple has a window of opportunity of about 3 months before developers start looking elsewhere. If Apple decides to publish the API in that time frame – in the next 10 years, everyone might be using the iPhone as the preferred device to interact with the real world.

Here is how augmented reality could open up new opportunities for the iPhone this year:

Arf (Georgia Tech)

a virtual pet you take anywhere

ARghhhh (Georgia Tech)

first person table-top action game

Sekai Camera (Tonchidot)

AirTag the real world

Kweekies (int13)

a portal to creatures in a parallel world

Layar (SPRXmobile)

Browse the world with an AR browserDetails

Artoolkit for the iPhone (Artoolworks)

the most popular AR kit now on the iPhone

StudierStube ES (Imagination, Graz TU)

the only AR engine designed for mobile devices, now on iPhoneDetails

PTAM on the iPhone (Oxford University)

next generation AR tracking with no markers or images

Wikitude (Mobilizy)

a travel guide that “tells you what you see”

Virtual Santa (Metaio)

interactive Christmas application using the augmented reality

Augmented Reality Sightseeing (Fraunhofer IGD)

Historic photographs overlaid on your field of view while strolling in a street

These are apps that are practically ready to go. There is a whole bunch of apps and games that are just waiting for the API to be available.

…And Apple, we know you can’t share your plans…so please surprise us soon!

Many many thanks for your consideration –
Sincerely,

Signed:
Michael Gervautz – Managing Director Imagination GesmbH
Robert Rice – CEO Neogence
Georg Klein – PhD PTAM creator from Oxford University
Stephane Cocquereaumont –  President & Lead Developer Int13 (Kweekies)
Maarten Lens-FitzGerald – Founder & Partner SPRXmobile, developer of Layar
Ori Inbar – Author of GamesAlfresco.com and CEO and founder – Ogmento (formerly Pookatak Games)
Philippe Breuss – Lead developer, Mobilizy
Philip R. Lamb – CTO, Artoolworks
Noora Guldemond – Metaio
Takahito Iguchi – CEO, Tonchidot
Blair MacIntyre – Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

Bruno Uzzan – CEO, Total Immersion
Michael Zoellner
Fraunhofer IGD
Andrea Carignano – CEO,  Seac02

If you are developing an AR app for the iPhone and wish to join this effort – just let us know.

Blair MacIntyre on UgoTrade

Tish Shute continues with her enlightening series of interviews on UgoTrade. After previously interviewing Ori Inbar and Robert Rice, Blair MacIntyre was a natural choice.
MacIntyre discusses his work at Georgia Tech (which I briefly wrote about here), and shares his perspective on future directions for mobile augmented reality.

A lot of folks think it will be tourist applications where there’s models of times square and models of central park and models of Notre Dame and the big square around that area in paris and along the river and so on, or the models of Italian and Greek history sites – the virtual Rome. As those things start happening and people start building onto the edges, and when Microsoft Photosynth and similar technologies become more pervasive you can start building the models of the world in a semi-automated way from photographs and more structured, intentional drive-by’s and so on. So I think it’ll just sort of happen. And as long there’s a way to have the equivalent of Mosaic for AR, the original open source web browser, that allows you to aggregate all these things. It’s not going to be a Wikitude. It’s not going to be this thing that lets you get a certain kind of data from a specific source, rather it’s the browser that allows you to link through into these data sources.

Read it all over here (and check some of the interesting links featured in the interview).
Curiously enough, a video of one of the games mentioned in the article, “Art of Defense“, was uploaded to Youtube today. It’s an interesting research in how people interact when playing a collaborative AR game (see Bragfish for a similar research with a competitive game):

AR Game Designs from Georgia Tech

The Augmented Environments lab at Georgia Tech (AELatGT) has recently uploaded to Youtube videos showing off many games developed as projects in the “HAR: AR Game Design Studio” class last year. Blair MacIntyre‘s students came up with some interesting ideas (some would say unconventional), but in my view, there’s one clear winner –
Candy Wars is a physics oriented game, played with your fridge magnets, where the goal is to feed a frog until it explodes. Things couldn’t be better:

Many more video goodies can be found on AELatGT’s Youtube page. Just a little tip – don’t be tempted by the name, GuitAR hero, is nothing more than a rickroll in AR disguise.

Augmented Fear of Heights

Those crazy kids at Georgia Tech. In the last couple of days, we have seen augmented reality used to make you laugh, amazed and uncomfortable, so naturally someone, somehow had to make you scared. That’s where Georgia Tech comes into the picture –

… we are interested in how to create systems where the user loses the sense of mediation, and begins to respond to being immersed in a blended physical/virtual as if it was a single “world.”

Our approach to exploring AR and Presence has been to develop an AR presence questionnaire in parallel with a physiological presence experiment analogous to the UNC VR “pit” experiment, which leverages a strong physiological reaction (fear of heights) to measure presence.

The experiment asked the participants to preform certain tasks around that pit, while their heart rate, galvanic skin response and skin temperature were measured. By doing so, the researchers hoped to develope a quantitative measurement of how immersive was the AR experience. Sadly, they don’t report on their results yet, but you can tell from the video that some participants were shaken by the event.
Next time, they’ll confront volunteers with an approaching virtual train and have paramedics on stand-by.

More details here.

Weekly Linkfest

It’s time again for another weekly linkfest, but first, let’s take a moment to a recognize a historic event. This is the 100th post here at Games Alfresco. Last week featured this blog’s 500th comment. Let’s hope that by the 200th post, AR will take a more substantial part in our life.

Now, without any further ado, here are some other AR news from around the web:

  • Enter the mind of Ronald Chevalier, an experience that promotes this film.
  • Georgia Tech’s has a new infomercial for their mixed reality design class.
  • Study finds that when it comes to in-car navigation, augmented reality is better than 3D egocentric view aids (such as plain old GPS devices). Who could have guessed?
  • Geocaching using augmented reality is such a neat idea, I’m surprised no one before Jacob at Trimagination thought about it.
  • Looking for an AR primer? Rusty Henderson has one covering the basics (with many videos), and Tom Carpenter has some more details.

The quote of the week comes from Robert Rice’s twitter feed:

My team has figured out how to build most of Rainbows End. Just matter of time and funding now… /evil scientist cackle/

I guess that if they really achieved that feat, funding will not be a problem.

And finally, the weekly video comes from GeoVector (which I previouslly covered here). It’s a concept video from 1995 and contains some interesting ideas. It just shows that even

if you think that you have a novel idea, someone has thought about it before. Jump to 4:51 for a really cool augmented frogger:

Have a nice week!