geoPaste – AR Publishing for Everybody

Last year’s Android Developer Challenge brought us such augmented reality applications as Wikitude and Enkin (which, until I’m proven wrong, is the first AR vaporware).
This time around, we are likely to see a surge in the number of AR applications participating in the challenge. An early bird, geoPaste, is coming to us all the way from Australia.

As can be seen in the video above, geoPaste lets you annotate reality right through your mobile phone, by sketching little pictures (or loading previously created images). Developer Gary Silva is concentrating at the moment on winning the challenge, but he has a grand vision for his app, “to make AR publishing available to everybody”.

After ADC1 I had also seen a Wikitude demo and saw their slant towards providing AR content for consumers, like Enkin ( and which Layar now continues ). From there I thought that AR publishing could be put directly into the hands of end users and was inspired to start working on geoPaste to try to realize that vision. My original thoughts were along the lines of digital graffiti, legal and harmless but at the same time indelible, hence my drawings metaphor.

Good luck on the challenge!
More details, over here.

Robotvision is for Humans, not Terminators

Mobile augmented reality becomes a crowded space really quickly, and I’m about to give up reporting about every application that pops into the lime light.
Anyway, Robotvision is another iPhone “augmented reality browser” developed by Portland based Tim Sears. To be released in September (once iPhone OS 3.1 is out), Robotvision boasts some unique features like using Bing rather than Google for local listings (which some would say is a wise decision), and being offered as a white-label infrastructure for other application creators (though, if you are looking to create an AR application for the iPhone you may also want to consider creating a layer for Layar, or using the open source iphonearkit).

Read more details at ReadWriteWeb.

Yelp introduces Augmented Reality to the iPhone via Easter Egg

While I’m quite a skeptic whether Presslite’s Metro Paris application for the iPhone has “AR capabilities” in the version available on the appstore, there’s no denying Yelp’s application does.
Found by Robert Scoble (I’m pretty sure it was leaked to Scoble), and brought to my awareness my ReadWriteWeb, shaking your iPhone while on Yelp’s main menu three times, will open up an hidden feature named monocle. Monocle is nothing but an augmented reality view of Yelp’s listing, as shown in the next video (many thanks to Tom Carpenter for finding this one):

It only works on the iPhone 3gs, but unlike Metro Paris, it’s free, so don’t hesitate to tr y it out. Now, I don’t think that in the long run it matters whether Apple knew or not about this feature. Obviously, mobile augmented reality is here, and we are only about see more of it in the coming months. What should matter is what’s next? Where will innovation come from, if everyone is using the same compass and GPS combo?
I for one think that we are in the middle of the “AR browsers” season, but the next big thing, which better suits the technology at hand (imprecise compasses), is mobile AR games. What are your thoughts?

Augmented Times in Paris

Just a short tweet, to show you I’m still alive (actually, it was a tweet a few hours ago). Unfortunately, I’m not in Paris, but working hard at the moment. However, this next video presents an iPhone app that augments Paris (and looks suspiciously like acrossair applications).

It’s called Métro Paris, and the augmented reality is actually a new feature for an old application (which apparently is the top non-free application on the French iTunes). More details, here.

Layar, Layar, Layar

If you read this post, you are probably an avid reader of this blog.
If you are an avid reader of this blog, you are probably interested in AR.
If you are interested in AR, you probably know that Layar had a fantastic day, at least PR wise:

As a matter of fact, this day was such a success for Layar, that it seems that layar.com and layar.eu are quite slugish, probably due to a surge in visitors. Is it too late for Mobilizy (Wikitude) and acrossair? (I really hope not).

Even more details, on Layar’s blog.

Two More AR Browsers to Join the Party

Are you a Wikitude or Layar supporter? Maybe Sekai Camera fan? The battle for supremacy at the augmented reality browsers market is getting more complicated by the minute, with two new contenders joining the fight.
First, acrossair which brought us the Tube Finder, is now showing off a very slick “general purpose” AR browser for the iPhone 3GS:

Next, GraffitiGeo, a fresh new startup that wants to create a Digg like service for real places is working on an AR version of their application, also for the iPhone:

(more details about GraffitiGeo here).

So, now we are at five AR browsers. Anyone wants to bet how many browsers there will be by this time next year? (my guess – only three serious contenders, and one of them will be owned by Google).

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).

Augmented Reality Won’t Make your App Cooler

Augmented Traffic Views is a pretty cool app that links your Android phone to Toronto’s traffic cameras to help you make better decisions for your daily commute. Alas, I don’t understand what the augmented reality part contributes to the application.
As a matter of fact, it seems to only hurt usability. Would you rather physically turn around yourself every time you want to see the video input coming from some traffic camera, or would you prefer a scrollable list of cameras and their locations? I would go with the second option. Moreover, you can’t really use it in AR mode while driving, unless I’m mistaken and you can do u-turns in the middle of the road in Canada.

Once again, it’s a useful application, and they have done a right choice giving it text to speech capabilities, but having an augmented reality interface seems to me contrived. True, AR has a natural appeal when it comes to house listing, as can be seen by the end of the video, but then again, house listing is not really about traffic views. I hope the guys behind this app (who are you?) will reconsider their use-cases before releasing it to the Android’s app store.

ARound: You know, for Nokia users

[A short apology. A few days ago, in a bout of paranoia, I wrote a short post suspecting that Sequence Point’s ARound may be some kind of malware. I jumped to conclusions due to some intriguing aspects in Sequence Point’s site. I should have contacted the developers before posting, but regretfully I did not. After David Caabeiro of Sequence Point contacted me, I quickly pulled the post, understanding my mistake. Here’s setting the record straight]

Got a Nokia N97 phone and envy all those cool guys with their slick iPhones or Android phones with their cool augmented reality applications? Yearn for the days when Nokia was a leader in mobile AR? Spanish company Sequence Point Software might have the solution for your desires.
Called ARound, this is the Symbian equivalent of Wikitude and Layar. Using GPS and compass readings (though future versions may include object recognition), ARound overlays the video input with points of interest gathered from 3rd party data sources, and provides details on close by landmarks.

Designed to be pluggable, ARound may interest developers as well. David Caabeiro of Sequence Point writes:

Our idea is allowing 3rd party developers to add value at different
levels of the application in a simple way: We realize Symbian is not
the easiest platform to play around so this hopefully makes things
easier for developers interested to include Symbian in their
offerings. The first plugins to be made available for developers will
be the so called “data sources”, which will allow them to integrate
any content (from mashups, etc) into the application. Later some other
plugin details will be made available, allowing further customization
and integration into existing applications. For example, one of the
first goals is adding OpenGL support for those interested in doing
more advanced rendering.

Best of all, a beta version can be downloaded freely, so if you are a N97 owner, go check it out, and share your impression in the comment section.

Battle of the AR Browsers

Three weeks after its launch, SPRXMobile’s Layar partially opens up its layer creation API to developers. It’s not freely available online (bad decision?), however, interested developers can register here, and may be among the lucky 50 to get access keys to the API. The press release is here.
Meanwhile, Mobilizy (creator of Wikitude) is not keeping silent. They congratulated SPRXMobile on their twitter account, and placed a comment on Layar’s press release:

On behalf of Mobilizy GmbH the developers of the original Wikitude AR Travel Guide we would like to congratulate SPRX Mobile in their efforts to help shape the Mobile augmented reality landscape.

Good Job!

Mobilizy also put this picture depicting Wikitude on the iPhone 3GS, and released the following advertisement video

and commented about AcrossAir’s Tube Locator application, saying “you can tell it is fake if you look closely”.

All this while both SPRXMobile and Mobilizy are founding members in the new AR Consortium. So, am I making a lot of noise out of nothing? Probably, after all I’m a blogger!

Update: Mobilizy just announced that they will let user add their own tags to the world via Wikitude.me and that they open up their API in a closed beta. And thus begins the battle to control the mobile AR world!