Google Map Maker Will Help Annotate AR World

Google is finally allowing us to edit and add to the map of the United States.  Google Map Maker accepts user contributions and map edits which will, after being checked by a small verification group, be added to the map.  This information can now be seen in Google Street View along with searchable content.  I added a point to my local map and it was added within minutes.

Now local areas can be filled in with detail that will help users manage their every day world.  You could add a shortcut through a campus or a favorite hot dog vendor location that doesn’t show up on the normal map.  It’s possible this information could be used for an AR world.

This is huge news for future AR browsers (or current ones if they can draw from this data.)  Augmented reality is essentially information overlain the life sized map of our world.  Maps are just less detailed versions of our world and Google Map Maker helps transition between the two.

5 Things I Want Kinect To Do

The Kinect has become an indie revolution, open sourced and hacked to provide a wealth of effects we haven’t had access to for augmented reality.  The Kinect Hacks site is doing a terrific job covering the revolution, but I want to make my bid for what I want the Kinect to do outside its comfort zone.

The Kinect so far has been wedded to the TV, mostly because it’s a gaming device.  But the company behind the technology, PrimeSense, recently raised $50 million.  We can only suspect they’re going to turn their hot new commodity into a device that can work with more than just the PC or an Xbox.

When that product hits the market, understanding the world will be much easier for computers and therefore, will make augmented reality more advanced.  Now I know most of these ideas aren’t AR in the strictest terms (I know my friend Rouli wouldn’t deem them AR,) but they exist in the same spectrum and they’re important for the overall development of the technology.  Without better sensors, AR is doomed to stay stuck in the smartphone.  Plus, sensing the world is one-half the AR equation (see the RIM scale for more details.)

Here are five things I want the Kinect to do:

1) I want the Kinect to drive my car, at least on the highway, while I’m busy doing something else.  Google wants to do the same thing and I think the Kinect could help them.
2) Conveyance in a factory setting takes a lot of manpower and is woefully wasteful.  Utilizing cheap sensors that can see people and sense their environment would make getting widgets from one place to another easy.
3) Mapping indoor locations would allow building AR environments in your local Walmart so mapping out your shopping route can be done with a simple app.
4) Telepresence robot, 3D glasses, and a computer screen could give people with massive physical disabilities a way to explore the world around them.
5) Sensing system for the blind that could give them clues to what was happening around them.  The system could use facial recognition and whisper what it saw in your ear.

These are just a few possibilities with the Kinect sensor as it gives computers a window into our world.

Happy Weekly Linkfest Day!

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the links of this week:

Augmented reality t-shirts are cool. Star Wars is cool (as determined by a poll of 500 AR fands). Thus, augmented reality t-shirts, featuring Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker fighting each other must be the epitome of coolness. I don’t have a clue who made those or where can you get them, but you may enjoy the video:

have a great week!

Post Christmas Linkfest

I hope you’ve all have been nice kids during the last year, because here’s a bag of links for you:

I have frequently lashed out at gimmicky usage of augmented reality in ad campaigns. However, the next campaign by German agency brand.david powered by Junaio gets only praises from me. First, it’s for a good cause – bringing the subject of domestic violence to light. It also seems to use AR very effectively:

happy new year!

Weekly Linkfest

No doubt about it, this week was under the sign of Kinect. Dozens of amateur programers used the OpenKinect drivers to create wonderful, many times AR related, demos. These and more in this week’s linkfest:

And here’s yet another video showing the power of Kinect. Created by Theo Watson in a single day, this is a very impressive skeleton tracker. How long will we have to wait till someone finds a way to combile AR glasses with Kinect?

Have a great week!

Kinect Unleashed – Not Just For XBox Anymore

While Microsoft denies that the Xbox has been hacked, pure semantics I tell you, the new Kinect system has been unleashed for uses other than the ones planned by the giant of the redwoods.

Adafruit Industries offered a $3,000 prize which was collected by “Hector” for completing the task.  The hacking was important enough to get noticed on CNN.com.

Now a Google software engineer is offering two different $1,000 rewards for: writing the coolest “open-sourced” program for the Kinect, and for doing the most to make Kinect easy to use (via TGDaily.)

An open Kinect system, given the power of its motion capture, could make for a wide range of uses.  Personally, I was saddened that I didn’t have an Xbox (I have a PS3 and a Wii) to try Kinect out when I details about the product came out, but these new hacks for the Kinect give me hope.  Using Kinect and a computer or web-enabled TV could open up tons of possibilities for home use beyond gaming.

A Kinect-enabled house could allow ubiquitous control of anything within range, though I’m thinking most of these will be for hardcore modders.  A more likely result would be that Xbox would see the possibilities from the mod community and co-opt those uses into the official software.

On the AR game front, assuming the tools created were easiest enough to use, we could see some creative home grown games that utilize the Kinect.  However, the price of a Kinect sensor is pretty steep to play these types of games, especially when people are becoming used to the cheap prices for app games, so I doubt we’ll see much more than research projects.  One can hope, though.

Weekly Linkfest

ISMAR 2010 is just a couple of days away, and in the meantime, here’s this week’s linkfest:

Today’s video is coming to us straight from ISMAR 2010. It’s a presentation of the results achieved in the paper “Build Your World and Play In It: Interacting with Surface Particles on Complex Objects” by Brett Jones and other researchers from the University of Illinois. The paper presents a way to map virtual content on 3d physical constructions and “play” with them. For more details check out Jones’ website. I think that Angry Birds would be prefect on such a platform:

Have a great week, and the lucky of you who get to be in ISMAR, take some videos, please!