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.

AR Games You Must Play Now!

It seemed like only last week we were clamoring for more games to showcase the power of augmented reality.  Now I find it hard enough just to keep up with them all.  Instead of trying to create a list, I’m going to just brain dump them into the Internet and let you all decide which ones you want to try.  I’m sure I’ll miss some, so if I have, just add ’em to the comments section.

Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary

I covered this one a month back on the Future Digital Life.  Great game and I loved that it got the kids and I out of the house on late night adventures and using our imaginations.  Nice work, Ogmento.

Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary from Ogmento on Vimeo.

Nintendo 3DS – AR Games

Let’s count the whole suite of them from AR Shot to Fishing.  The game system takes card based AR to a whole new place.  Well, actually, it’s the same place you’re in, but with cool graphics overlain.

AR Soccer

Short and simple but can be addicting for at least as long as it takes your calves to cramp up.

Paparazzi (Qualcomm’s AR Challenge Winner)

The point of the game is to snap as many pictures as possible before the Star gets to pissed and decides to go Lindsey Lohan on your camera.  Thankfully, the cracked screen is only part of the game.  Will a Charlie Sheen edition be coming soon?

Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner

Epic space battles on your iPhone.  New York City sold separately.

AR Basketball

Sorry, but swiping the screen on this game just makes me want to play a version of AR Angry Birds.

AR Pirates!

Created by Optricks Media to get you to say “ARrrr Matey!” for the rest of the day after you’ve played it.

AR Defender

Tower defense by Int13.

The AR Drone

Like having a quad-rotor hovercraft wasn’t cool enough, they had to go and add augmented reality.

Pringles Game

There’s a whole host of these product placement games out there.  I’ll summarize them by posting just this one video.  Fill in any number of other products that have jumped on the product as AR game bandwagon.

PBS Kids Games

It’s not a game yet, but it’s a nice article about combining learning and games.

Metaio’s Augmented Reality Worker Support

Markerless tracking has come a long way in the last year.  The downside of this system is the custom graphics for the visual manual. It’s hard enough writing instructions for thousands of jobs in a production facility right now. This system would need to be leveraged on mass market jobs like oil changes at Jiffy Lube.

 

Three Things We Can Learn From Disney

Last year at ISMAR09, the keynote speech from Mark Mine of the Disney Imagineering group, really intrigued me.   I had been a hardcore Disney hater before that, but Mark’s behinds-the-scenes look at the technology of Disney, specifically how they used augmented reality, softened my stance.

Cue forward almost one year exactly, in a strange twist of fate and of overenthusiastic grandparents, I find myself at Disney for a week.  Since I was going to be at Disney, I decided to check out all the AR attractions that Mark Mine had talked about in his presentation.  I got to see all the applications I wanted to see except one (Magic Sand) and this is what I learned from the experience:

1) True location based gaming can be a blast

The Kim Possible Adventure game in Epcot was my kids favorite event from the Disney properties.  Each player receives a cellphone and then they follow the clues around until they solve the mystery.  The game uses RFID tags to know when the player is in the right location.  This game is as much an alternate reality game as AR, but either could do the job marvelously.  There were about eight total missions in the various countries of Epcot and the kids did all of them.  I did a few with them and then let them do the rest on their own.

Now that markerless AR is becoming more common with products like Junaio Glue and Google Goggles, I’d like to see someone make a few ARGames based on the Kim Possible model.  It was truly a fun experience that the whole family enjoyed.

2) AR needs to be a product not a feature

In the Disney Downtown area, there’s a wonderful LEGO store with amazing statues made of LEGO bricks.  In the back of the store, there’s a LEGO AR Kiosk.  Since Metaio’s LEGO kiosk was one of the first applications of AR a few years ago, I won’t go into the details of what it is.  But what I will talk about is the hour I stood in the back of the store and watched people interact with it.

Quite a number of parents and kids picked up boxes and held them in front of the camera.  They seemed amused for a second and then quickly put them down and moved on.  I asked a few people what they thought of it and they mostly shrugged without saying much.

The problem I see is that most usages of AR currently are add-on features that are cool in themselves, but don’t actually add to the experience of the product.  For AR to be truly memorable it needs to be both conspicuous and integral to the product.

3) Projection based AR is the future of amusement parks

Projection based AR at Disney was everywhere.  From Buzz Lightyear’s talking statue;  to projected skins across landscapes or objects; or full fledged projected realities that came alive when the haptic chair you sat in moved with the reality.  While this one isn’t going to do much for the average AR programmer, as their medium is the cell phone and not an amusement ride, the amusement parks are going to rely on AR more and more for their advanced special effects.  I think my favorite example was the Forbidden Journey ride at the Harry Potter area of Universal.  I honestly cannot tell you exactly what all was AR, or animatronics, or just smoke and mirrors, but it was truly awesome.  It actually felt like you were there in a place that only exists in our collective minds and sprung from JK Rowling.  That makes the far-future of AR both scary and exciting, and I’m glad to be along for the ride.

Online Image Learning – The Next Big Leap in Mobile AR?

Mobile, image recognition based, augmented reality is very cool, as evident from the Popcode’s demos we posted yesterday. However, creation of a model used by the mobile phone to recognize a new image still requires a desktop, hindering realtime creation and sharing of AR content.

Thanks to the work of researchers from the Korean Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and the Swiss EPFL, this needn’t be the case anymore. In a paper titled “Point-and-Shoot for Ubiquitous Tagging on Mobile Phones” accepted to ISMAR 2010, they present a method to scan surfaces and create “recognition-models” by using your phone (no data is sent to a remote server).

You don’t even need to take the perfect straight-on picture. As the video below shows, this means you can augment hard to reach surfaces. Best of all, you can share those models with your friends.

A little bit more detail over Wonwoo Lee’s blog.

Metaio’s Markerless Shopping Experience with Seventeen.com

No over-the-shoulder backside check, but it’s better than staring at a catalog or webpage.

“This is the first truly instant online dressing room and as opposed to other augmented reality applications no markers or uploads needed,” said Noora Guldemond, head of sales & marketing for metaio. “We believe this application provides an enhanced interactive online shopping experience for the consumer.  We are very excited to be working with Hearst Magazines Digital Media on delivering this unique shopping tool.”

What Lola Wants…Lola Gets…

…and Lola gets a tons of augmented animations straight from the pages of the book directly to your webcam.

This unique picture book for children uses original torn-paper illustrations to tell the fun-filled story of the glamorous Lola the Leopard, who is incredibly vain, and her friend Monty the Meerkat, whose clumsy antics don’t add up to the purrrrrfection Lola is looking for. This book features an amazing bonus feature: Book, Webcam, Action! Just hold the last page of the book up to a web-cam and you’ll see Lola and Monty burst vibrantly to life in full 3D animation, accompanied by music! These are the first books to use augmented reality technology for very young children. “What Lola Wants, Lola Gets!” teaches children about different aspects of growing up in an amusing way that they can relate to.

While using the AR portion of the book sticks you to your computer when you might normally be reading the book to your kids in bed, it’s still a fun way to read a kids book.  I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of these markerless book products in the near future as publishers, desperate for revenue, latch onto the “next big thing.”

The augmented reality kids book “What Lola Wants…Lola Gets” comes out on April 1st by Scribblers, a division of Book House.