ARTags – The Sign of Apps to Come

I hate it when I’m scheduling a post just to find out that someone else (this time Augmented Planet) publish a post about it just a day before my goes up. Luckily ARTags is important enough to deserve two posts within 24 hours.

Coming to us from France, ARTags is an AR drawing application, that apparently makes it very easy to draw nice looking pictures on your mobile phone and add them to your current location. Though it’s quite new, already more than 1500 pictures were drawn using this app all across the world.

But that doesn’t make it special. What makes ARTags special is the fact that it’s a cross platform app. That is, the pictures are visible using Wikitude, Layar and Junaio (though I had a bit of a problem finding the right channel on Wikitude). Instead of creating a new browser application, or integrating within only one of the above three, the folks behind ARTags decided to have a presence in all of them. That’s absolutely the right decision, at least at this stage. I certainly hope that other app developers will follow.

Now, if only someone invented an app to make its user better artists.

More information here.

Gundam Robots in Augmented Reality

This post can be summarized by three magic terms:

  • Augmented Reality
  • Giant Robots
  • Yahoo Japan

Yes, it seems that the Japanese branch of Yahoo is much cooler than its American counter part. They have recently announced the coming release of a free iPhone application set to display a virual Zaku II mecha from the animated series Gundam (and sorry if I get this wrong, I’ve never seen it).
Interestingly enough the application is both image-recognition based and GPS/compass based. It will show the mecha when the iPhone camera will be directed at the (real) 18-meter tall Gundam statue in Shizuoka, Japan, and when the camera is pointed at a special marker.

For more details check out Anime News Network. Via Development Memo for Ourselves.

iButterfly – Augmented Coupons with Wings

I really fancy this next iPhone app. It’s called iButterfly and it transforms the habit of collecting coupons into a fun little game. Created by Japan’s Mobile Art Lab, the app tasks its users with catching virtual butterflies , each representing one or more coupons. You can even share
“butterflies” with your friends via Bluetooth.

Though the technology is not overwhelming (GPS based), the overall execution looks great, see for yourself:

Via MobileBehavior

Augmented Reality at CES 2010

Thursday begins the Consumer Electronics Show 2010, the gadget-head show of the year.  While the Nexus One has all the buzz going into the show and 3D TV will probably be the talk of it, readers of Games Alfresco will want to know what to expect from CES2010 for augmented reality. 

Overall, there’s not going to be any big surprises for augmented reality, but there will be some products that will help further the cause. 

AR Drone

The combination of self-adjusting mini-helicopter and augmented reality interface has turned this little toy into quite the buzz maker pre-show for the device maker Parrot (so much so the website is currently crashed due to traffic.)  The drone has two cameras that can connect to an iPhone or iTouch through a wi-fi network. 

The Drone was introduced Tuesday and attracted the biggest crowd.  This creative application of AR really shows what’s possible using well placed cameras and some ingenuity.  The price or released date hasn’t been announced but it’s expected in late 2010. 

Tablets

Microsoft & HP are expected to release a tablet during the 2010 show while Apple plans to release theirs afterwards.  Tablets are interactive stylish screens that are supposed to be the next wave of portable computers.  Their built-in webcam, wi-fi, processor speeds and portability will give augmented reality the option to upside the “magic lens.”  Redmondpie website has supposed leaked specifications that include a projector which would allow Sixth Sense type AR. 

The supposed iSlate or iPad (really how hard is it to sound like you’ve found leaked Apple information by adding an “i” in front of a random techy word) will need to have GPS, accelerometer, and a compass to truly be AR ready.  Otherwise, the only thing the tablet will be able to do is object recognition and marker-based AR. 

TVs with Cameras

The stealthier possible boon for augmented reality might be in the form infusing TVs with computer sensibilities.  The Skype tool is looking to add webcams to HD TVs for video-calls.  With TVs having wi-fi access, computer processors and downloadable widgets, TV-apps could be a huge market for augmented reality.  The technology would have to be marker and object recognition based, but the stationary setting could allow for creative products like the Sony EyePet without having to fork-out $400 for the PS3.  I’m sure the furry-crowd would love to talk to each other on video-Skype, augmented to look like their favorite animal. 

In general, we’re not going to have an OMFG moment from the CES 2010.  There could be a few surprises similar to the AR Drone, but mostly we’ll grind out more processing power, camera speeds and other un-sexy improvements that will help make augmented reality better.

Gamaray’s Source Code is Free to Download

As I blogged before, the work Gamaray, one of the prominent early AR browsers, has stopped. At the time, I was suggesting, like many others on Gamaray’s mailing list, that the man behind the project, Clayton Lilly, should release Gamaray’s code to the community. Lilly, I’m happy to report, have decide to do just that. In his recent post to the mailing list, he writes:

I’ve made the source code available in the files section, but there
are some things you should know:

1) Gamaray doesn’t use OpenGL, the 3D objects are all rendered in
software. This means the application will never support the kind of
animations or textures found in Layar and Wikitude 3D.
2) Much of the code is not very well thought out and I don’t plan on
spending any time explaining it.
3) I don’t plan on supporting an open source project, someone else
will need to upload it to a repository and manage the updates.

I would recommend starting fresh and just picking out the useful
tidbits.

So, if you are interested, the source code can be found here. At least one good thing turned out of this dire situation.

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.

Weekly Augmented Reality Mobile Applications Galore

Yes, there are so many of new augmented reality browsers each week, they deserve their own post, instead of clogging the weekly linkfest. Here are the browsers that made news this week, in no particular order (well, ok, those they I liked are on top):

Air Painter
Previously we featured geoPaste, an Android application that lets you draw on real-life. Air Painter is a Japanese Android application with a similar premise, though its user interface seems a bit more refined, as can be seen in the video below (don’t worry about the German, you don’t have to understand it to see how cool this application is). More information on AirPainter’s hompeage, and here’s another video.

LooKATOR
LooKATOR shows you WiFi signals floating on top of Android’s video feed. Follow the spots to get stronger signal/stronger dose of radiation. Some details here, no official homepage that I can find (via DMFO)

WhereMark
An augmented reality browser with a slick interface for the iPhone, that features results from Google’s local search. Like most browsers these days, it also lets users add their own content. Some more information, in WhereMark’s homepage.

uTourX
uTourX is an iPhone browser like application, for the niche market of American students touring colleges before they sign in. Nothing much special, except the over-acting in the following video. Homepage

Vicrea’s Browser
I don’t have any better name for it. Vicrea is a Dutch corporation, and the next video shows a concept augmented reality application they are developing. They should really just ask Layar to give them a branded version. More information, here, in Dutch. (via DMFO)