Weekly Linkfest

I’m going to London next week (where I’ll might be tempted to get a Kinect), so this is probably the last linkfest till mid-December. I’ll try to keep my twitter account updated with interesting links while I’m away. Anyway, here’s this week’s linkfest:

I never met the guys from Layar in person, but I think I would really enjoy a conversation with any one of the founders. I think the secret of their success is not luck or being first to market (which they weren’t), but being both highly intelligent, yet very nice folks. Here’s a short interview with Claire Boonstra on Layar’s past and future. Winning quote – Augmented reality is the next mass medium, the first unboxed medium:

Have a great week!

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!

Augmented Reality, Meet Kinect

I know that envy is allegedly a deadly sin. But, common, what a man supposed to do when witnessing Oliver Kreylos amazing work with a hacked Kinect. If you were living under a rock for the last couple of days, Kreylos is the guy behind the 1 million views strong video, showing 3d video capture with Kinect:

Watching it, one can not avoid thinking about long we have to wait before someone creates an augmented reality application using Kinect. The answer – not that long, apparently Kreylos already made a tech demo:

If you are the lucky owner of Kinect (damn you!), you might want to try and compile this project on your own. Sources can be found here. Now that we have a proof of concept, what application or game would you want to see augmented that way?

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.

Augmented Reality’s Console Upgrade

I’ve been watching the news from E3 with keen interest.  First off, I’m a gamer, if you can’t tell.  But I’m also wildly curious how augmented reality will shape the future of gaming.  Now I haven’t seen any games that strictly use AR, but the direction consoles are taking shows how AR is shaping them.

Microsoft’s Kinect

The formally named Project Natal previews have shown how the dual camera system would allow for gesture based gaming.  The concept doesn’t change with the new name, but we have more information about it.  One of the cooler parts of the system doesn’t even deal with gaming.  Gestures and words will now access the interface like Minority Report.

While we’re a long way from invisible AR systems that travel with us and connect us to the world in new and unique ways, the Kinect system certain raises the bar on how machines can see the world.  The AR smartphone gives us a tiny magic window into the data driven world, while the AR console brings the magic to our living room.

The announced games for Kinect are pretty limited to a racing game, an adventure game involving white water rafting, sports, and dancing.  The only brand name was a Star Wars game that seems like a perfect fit for Kinect and a virtual pet game Kinectimals that gives us the only true augmented reality experience like the PS3 EyePet. The system is due out in November, just in time for the holidays.


Playstation Move and EyeToy

PlayStation is rightly packaging the Move controller along with the EyeToy (for promotional as much as technical reasons.)  While it doesn’t quite compare to the gesture based Kinect, it is a step forward.  However, if I were buying a system for its AR inclusion, the Kinect wins hands down (pun intended.)