Vision Based Layar is Coming

And since it’s pretty big news (and Layar is a darling of the tech press) you probably already read about it somewhere else.

Here’s what you need to know:
  • Documentation is here.
  • Android Beta version is coming in a few weeks. iPhone and Android full versions are coming by the end of Q3.
  • Seems like a “basic” (nothing is basic in this field) image recognition and tracking. Image recognition is done on the device, so augmentation should be relatively snappy.
  • They are going to charge money for this, unless your layer gets less than 1000 matches per month, or if it’s a non-profit, artistic or educational layer and the powers to be like it enough. Pricing seems really fair to me.
  • You can win up to $15K by creating a vision based layer.

I think the “share it now” button has a potential to become a huge hit (think Instagram big). What do you think?

 
Update – misunderstood the documentation. You can have different augmentations depending on both location and image.

Is 13th Lab the Layar of Indoors?

Well, I’m pretty sure the guys at 13th Lab will get mad at me for comparing them to Layar. Most importantly, they don’t consider themselves as an augmented reality company. They view themselves as a computer vision company, and AR only serves as a cool proof of concept for their technology. And what exactly is their tech? For now it’s implementing SLAM algorithm on iPad2, as can be seen in the video below. Next they plan to implement more computer vision algorithms for mobile platforms.

SLAM, if you are too lazy to read the wikipedia article and prefer to learn this kind of stuff from a blogger, enables the device to locate its position in a pre-scanned room while continuously update its stored map of the room, all this without using markers. Here’s a cool demo from Oxford, showing SLAM assisted augmentation of a museum, which suggests one way this technology can be used. Another scenario may be something like an ikea store where using an iPad you could change the color of the sofa which is right in front of you (or locate the exit).

This lead me believe that with some luck 13th Lab may become a force to be reckoned with in indoors AR. Moreover, 13th Lab aims to be a platform provider, like, well, Layar (and admittedly, many other companies in the AR space).

Writes Petter Ivmark, one of the founders:

The ambition of this company is not just to make a game though, but rather to take this pretty complicated technology, that requires a lot of specific math and low level programming skills, meaning that very few developers work with it today, and make it available to developers as a platform that doesn’t require these skills at all. Hopefully, this will spur a lot more innovation in computer vision. We strongly believes that, as computer vision and artificial intelligence evolves, the camera will take over from the GPS as the device’s most important sensor to understand, interpret and navigate the world.
We have had the idea that the camera has the potential to be the most important sensor for a long time.
A few years ago when we started talking about doing something in this area, the devices where not powerful enough to do SLAM and other advanced computer vision work. When we started looking at this, the iPhone 3GS had not yet been released (let alone a dual core device like the iPad 2 or some of the newer Android devices). iOS didn’t even have a public camera API. But we made a bet on the exponential growth in computing power on devices, that if we started working on this, the devices would catch up quickly. This turned our to be true. Apple released the camera APIs for iOS, they put gyros in their devices, and finally released the iPad 2 which had a camera, gyro and a fast dual core processor. This was around the time we had a first working prototype of our platform, so the timing was great.

If you buy into their vision, you can sign up to their developers network. Better yet, if you live in Sweden, they are hiring – I bet it’s going to be worthwhile to join them.

Georgia Tech’s Spring 2011 Crop of Games – Nerds, Puppies and Asteroids

It was only five months ago when we reported about the first set of mobile augmented reality games coming out of Qualcomm Augmented Reality Game Studio. The studio, a partnership between Qualcomm and Georgia Tech’s Augmented Environments Lab, gives students the tools to create AR games and gives us a peek their crazy ideas. Now, a new crop of games is out of the studio’s doors, and here are my favorites:

Dodger Dodger is a simple game where you are tasked with escaping falling asteroids. This game smartly harnesses the mobile platform to add another dimension to the game. Not only does the player needs to move left and right, he also needs to move the phone back and forth in order to avoid the asteroids:

Nerdherder is obviously the bastard step child of last semaster’s Nerdferno. Instead of dodging asteroids, you need to avoid eye contact with girls in this one:

The goal of Puppy Plus is to teach your child basic math skills using a cute puppy living on a deserted island, surrounded by pirate ships. It makes perfect sense, trust me:

You can read more about these games and others coming out this spring on Qualcomm AR game studio site; Don’t miss the narwal safe sex guide.

First Eggs Tracking Application Will Augment Your Easter

With Easter just around the corner, we are undoubtedly facing a round of festive augmented reality applications. While last year saw the creation of GPS based applications such as “AR Easter Egg Hunt“, this year brings computer-vision based applications, and leading the pack is Irregular Apps’ “Talking Augmented Easter Egg“.

Using what seems to be a unique algorithm to identify and track eggs, Talking Augmented Easter Egg enables iPhone and iPad users to virtually decorate plain white eggs, poke them until they (again, virtually) break and even talk to them. People may think you are crazy, pulling an egg from the refrigerator, looking at it through your iPhone and then starting to talk to it, so maybe you should let your kids play with this one.

When I tested the application on my iPhone 3GS, it surprisingly worked well. The tracking was a bit jumpy (as you might expect), but it did identify my “test egg”, even with a few decoys around (like a white charger). True, it’s a gimmick, that will lose its attraction in a few weeks (unless you are an angry bird, using the app to track your stolen eggs), but it’s probably make your kids quite happy for those few days.

More details can be found on Irregular Apps’ website.

Nintendo 3DS Hacked, Shows Augmented Reality 3D Anime Boobies

Well, the title says it all, and this video shows it all, but if you are clamoring for more detail, check out Japanator.com

Augmented Reality On iPad 2

Personally, I find tablet devices boring (not that I will object getting one). They simply pale in comparison to some of Mac Funamizu’s creations. But, as the iPad2 is all the rage right now, here are a few augmented reality demos running on it, making it a little bit cooler.

If you have a video of your AR app running on the iPad2, shoot me an email or leave a comment.

String on an iPad 2:

Metaio’s Junaio on an iPad 2:

Total Immersion’s Magic Mirror on an iPad 2 (first covered by Thomas):

Nerdferno and 2 Other Augmented Reality Games from Georgia Tech

In late June, the establishment of Qualcomm Augmented Reality Game Studio was announced, a partnership between Qualcomm and Georgia Tech’s Augmented Environments Lab, with the goal of “pioneering new advancements in mobile gaming and interactive media“. Six months later, the first crop of mobile based games is coming out of the studio, and this blogger is far from disappointed.

Shotgun Showdown is a two players western styled shooting game which utilizes two $20 bills as an arena/required marker. I wonder whether the winner takes both bills.

If you thought that tracking dollar bills was original, than get ready for Volcano Fever, a game that uses condom wrappers as a marker. It’s more than just a weird artistic choice by the game designer. The goal of Volcano Fever is to teach proper condom use.

I understand the volcano metaphor, but what’s the octopus supposed to symbolize? … Anyway, next is, as promised, Nerdferno, a game that puts you in a God like position, determining the fate of cubicle dwellers. If you looked for original AR content, you’ve found it:

You can read more about these games and others, such as Spintopia and Bug Juice, on the studio’s website, and about previous AR games from Georgia Tech here.