Weekly Linkfest

As usual, here’s a bunch of links to augmented reality related news bits that have accumulated in my inbox during the week:

  • There’s no end to the augmented reality browsers phenomenon. Cyclopedia is yet another browser that is based on Wikipedia, Bradesco is helping you find your way around Brazil, and AugmentThis! lets you upload kml files and share them with others.
  • Peak.ar on the other hand is a specialized browser from Salzburg Research that only lets you see the names of mountain tops around the world.
  • While Wikitude is finally available for the iPhone (but you wouldn’t know that if you had visited www.wikitude.org as to the writing of this post).
  • So, with so many AR browser available, how are they all doing, buisness wise? Gene Becker collected some appstore statistics, that shows that AcrossAir’s applications are leading in terms of downloads among the non-free applications available on the American appstore.
  • Joe Lamantia on why creating AR content should be accessible to everyone, and how to make it so.
  • What’s that augmented reality that I mention so much? I guess most of this blog’s patrons already know, but here’s Scientific American explantion, though I think YDreams’ post is far better.
  • Campaigns of the week: One for a game named Operation Flashpoint, the other for Fox’s Dollhouse (which looks extra sleazy).

This week’s video is a lovely tour de force from Oxford’s Active Vision Labratory’s Robert Castle. Although Ori posted a sneak peak to ISMAR 09, he somehow missed this video. It shows an extension to the PTAMM system that allows “multiple objects to be recognized and localized within multiple maps.”

Have a nice week!

Mobilizy Proposes Augmented Reality Mark-up Language to The AR Consortium

SALZBURG, Austria: SEPTEMBER 22nd 2009. The nascent field of Mobile Augmented Reality (AR) is on the verge of becoming mainstream. In recent months an explosion in the development of practical AR solutions has given consumers numerous AR applications to experience and “augment” their daily lives. With this surge in AR development the potential arises for the multiplication of proprietary methods for aggregating and displaying geographic annotation and location-specific data. Mobilizy proposes creating an augmented reality mark-up language specification based on the OpenGIS® KML Encoding Standard (OGC KML) with extensions. The impetus for proposing the creation of an open Augmented Reality Markup Language (ARML) specification to The AR Consortium is to help establish and shape a long-term, sustainable framework for displaying geographic annotation and location-specific data within Augmented Reality browsers.

In addition to proposing the ARML specification to The AR Consoritum, Mobilizy will be presenting an overview of the ARML specification at the Emerging Technologies Conference @MIT, Boston, and at the Over The Air Event held at Imperial College in London.  An introduction to the ARML specification is available here.

The purpose for establishing an open ARML specification is to assure all data that is created for augmentation in the physical world could be universally accessed and viewed on any augmented reality browser. ARML allows individuals and organizations to easily create and style their own AR content (e.g. points of interest) without advanced knowledge of AR, APIs or tools. The ARML specification is analogous to HTML for the Web, which is used for creating web-pages and web-sites.

Features of the proposed ARML specification 1.0 include:

* Founded upon KML with extension name-space for AR specific data;
* Placement of a “View in AR” icon which clearly identifies a mobile website that supports location aware (real time) data in an ARML browser;
* Compliance with basic XML document structure – no proprietary programming API required to create an AR layer.
* ARML adherent data can be viewed on ARML browsers (e.g. Wikitude) and KML browsers (e.g. Google Earth);
* Custom styling of AR data (points of interest) via standard KML styling elements;
* Initial support for UTF-8 encoding.

Additionally all content created using the ARML specification can be also viewed on other KML based viewers such as Google Earth without any modification. For Mobilizy, proposing the ARML specification is a logical step to assure cross-platform exchange of context-aware, location-based, real time data within an AR experience.

Mobilizy understands ARML as a natural evolutionary process to open AR for the entire world. We believe that open standards and open interfaces are a key to success for Mobile AR initiatives.  Mobilizy’s strategy is to build a complete AR eco-system for context-sensitive, location aware, real time data exchange in conjunction with a compliant browser that includes interfaces to social bookmarking services, search engines and directories.

Mobilizy GmbH is offering limited access to the preview version of our upcoming ARML browser. If you are interested to gain early access, or you have questions regarding the ARML specification, please contact us at: arml@mobilizy.com

About The AR Consortium:
The founding members of the AR Consortium are eight companies whose primary focus is augmented reality, whether technology, tools, applications, solutions, or content. The AR Consortium’s goals include providing a forum for members to meet, share ideas, and discuss issues facing the growth of the industry, as well as open a dialog about emerging standards and protocols.

About Mobilizy:
Mobilizy is an early pioneer in commercial augmented reality and the creator of the WIKITUDE World Browser, which is one of the first practical augmented reality (AR) mobile applications available world-wide. Mobilizy GmbH engages in the research and in-house development of location-based services and augmented (mixed) reality experiences for smart-phones.  Mobilizy is one of the leading innovators in developing new methods and applications for data acquisition and exchange in the emerging market of mobile augmented reality.

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Mobilizy Previews Augmented Reality Navigation System

Yesterday, Mobilizy released a second press release this week – now for a brand new product for AR navigation: Wikitude Drive.

This PR blitz comes from the company behind the original AR browser Wikitude – as if saying – we don’t make noise, we make good products.

VentureBeat says it needs a car phone holder.

Bruce Sterling likes the soundtrack and the jazzy font choices (when the rubber augments the road).

Android Guys were intrigued by the team’s quote: “it was created out of curiosity.”

Rhymo from Layar twitted generously: “Watching Wikitude Drive video. Impressed!!”

And I say: with so much AR productivity apps I have much more free time – so can I PLAY a little AR with reality?

Press Release: Mobilizy Releases WIKITUDE 3 and an Enhanced Version of Wikitude.me

From our friends at Mobilizy, this exciting press release:

SALZBURG, Austria: AUGUST 26TH 2009. Mobilizy GmbH introduces WIKITUDE
3 for the Android OS and relaunches a completely new Wikitude.me geo-tagging platform.  WIKITUDE 3 is the latest release of the Wikitude World Browser, the premiere mobile AR application for Android, which displays location-based, geo-specific content in a real-time augmented reality camera view on a smart-phone using GPS & gravimetric (compass) sensors.

WIKITUDE 3 is the latest release of the Wikitude World Browser, which presents the user with data about their surroundings, nearby landmarks, and other points of interest by overlaying information on the camera-view of a smartphone bringing information from the internet into context with the real-world. The Mobilizy development team has listened to it’s users and implemented several new features to improve and enhance the user experience within WIKITUDE 3.  New features include:

*Full Integration with the Wikitude.me user-generated, geo-tagging platform;

*An enhanced User Interface (UI) which tightly aligns with the UI in
the forthcoming iPhone version of the Wikitude World Browser;

*Improved methods to enhance perspective and depth of perception of POIs  (Smaller POIs indicate further distance, larger POIs indicate close proximity);

*The search and viewing-distance for POIs can be regulated by the user with a sleek slider bar;

*New & Improved filter options allow end-users to choose which content overlays and POI categories are displayed;

*Improved methods for locating POIs through search terms;

*An improved radar-overlay displaying the user’s current viewing direction and POIs within a specified radius;

*An entirely new “Beam-Me” feature which tele-ports the user to a pre-defined geo-location, allowing the user to experience a specified geo-data overlay;

Currently, WIKITUDE World Browser 3.0 offers data overlay sources from Wikipedia, *Qype and user-generated content from Mobilizy’s Wikitude.me (www.wikitude.me)

Wikitude.me
Mobilizy GmbH has partnered with Netociety Ltd., a specialist in enterprise social software, to develop an enhanced geo-tagging experience that empowers individuals with the tools to create POIs and location specific, hyper-linked digital content which can be viewed through the WIKITUDE World Browser. According to Markus Tripp, the project manager of Wikitude, “Wikitude.me is the first platform which allows individuals to actively contribute to augmented reality.  This is an amazing and huge step forward in the AR industry!”

Wikitude.me provides an open, easy-to-use, free mobile information platform for anybody who wants to access or provide location based and situation-specific information or services via mobile phones. Basically, Wikitude.me can be understood as a platform which encourages community-driven content creation to which anybody can contribute freely, very similar to the philosophy of Wikipedia, but for mobile augmented reality. With regards to intellectual property, Wiktude.me is implemented under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License.

To get started with Wikitude.me platform users can login through existing 3rd party accounts such as Yahoo!, Google, Twitter and Facebook. The ability to add points of interest and “geo-tag the world” is done through any Internet-enabled device, such as a netbook, laptop, desktop or a smartphone like the Apple iPhone, Nokia N97 and the Android handsets which are available today. For each point of interest there is a title, description (250 chars), category, language, and link to a URL.  Each POI that is geo-tagged on the Wikitude.me platform is also cross-posted on Twitter (http://twitter.com/wikitude_me ) to inform the global Wikitude
community of the creation of fresh geo-content.

Mobilizy GmbH believes that the future of mobile augmented reality (Mobile AR) literally rests in the hands of the users.  Our team can develop the infrastructure for Mobile AR experiences such as WIKITUDE 3 and platforms like Wikitude.me,  but ultimately the end users will determine how mobile AR will be shaped. Mobilizy is constantly researching and developing ways to improve the WIKITUDE mobile AR experience by placing the user at the center of our development process.

NOTE: POI data created by early-adopters of the beta version of Wikitude.me will be migrated to the new platform early next week.

About Mobilizy:
Mobilizy GmbH is an early pioneer in commercial augmented reality and
the creator of the WIKITUDE World Browser, which is the first
practical augmented reality (AR) mobile application. Available on
Android (Coming soon to iPhone). Mobilizy engages in the research and
in-house development of location-based services and augmented (mixed)
reality experiences for smartphones.  Mobilizy is one of the leading
innovators in developing new methods and applications for data
acquisition and exchange in the emerging market of augmented reality.

About Netociety:
Netociety Ltd. is a UK-Austrian based software development firm
helping companies customize, implement and adopt social software,
collaboration tools and best practice. Netociety facilitates the
development of collaboration systems for engaging with customers,
employees and partners. Improvements in innovation, change, marketing,
and productivity efforts are focused on.

WIKITUDE: The World IS the Platform!

————————
Mark A.M. Kramer
Product Strategist / Human Experience Lead

Mobilizy GmbH
http://www.mobilizy.com
Jakob-Haringer Str 5/IV
5020 Salzburg
Austria

End press release

Well, what do you think?

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).

Mobilizy Responds

I have been warmongering last week, with a couple of posts that mainly target Mobilizy of Wikitude fame (“Battle of the AR Browsers” and “Updates from the Front Line“). Mark A.M. Kramer of Mobilizy left the following response to my last post:

Dear Rouli,

Thank you for the round-up of what has happened in the AR world this week. A lot has happened as you are well aware.

First of all, we at Mobilizy do not see ourselves in an AR war. We are just tired of all the attention given to SPRXMobile and Layar when we are well aware that most users of Layar are only in the Netherlands and the whole world is giving its attention to Layar as if it was the first AR application/browser in the world. WIkitude is global and we have over 130,000+ users around the world.

Also, we have worked with SPRXMobile in the past and they are well aware of the outcomes of that working relationship. We are coders, developers, AR techies. WE love crafting software that is useful and makes people happy. One of the many strengths of SPRXMobile and Layar is marketing. In reality, we would make an amazing strategic alliance together with our combined strengths.

With regards to Acrossair: We have respect for their new application even if we did say we thought the demonstration was a mock-up. It still is hard to tell really. We do know that the camera api is not officially open for development on the iPhone from other applications (we are developing onthe iPhone too!) This means that Acrossair is using a hack to accomplish what they have done. Hopefully Apple will change its mind and open the api up for develoment.

This is what we wrote about Acrossair:
@Kjeld @oheckmann The people at acrossair made a wonderful MOCK- Video: http://bit.ly/Vd37Y you can tell it is fake if you look closely.

This is a mock-up of our iPhone prototyping. We have the compass and GPS functioning, no camera API yet! http://twitpic.com/9o7or

We are excited that the field of mobile AR is taking off! We are happy to work with anyone and everyone to advance this nascent field.

Cheers,

Mark of Mobilizy / WIkitude

Updates from the Frontline

Continuing my coverage of the augmented reality browser wars, here are the latest news (well, some of them are a few days old, excuse me for procrastinating a bit):

AcrossAir is not satisfied with letting you find the closest subway station in London (where it’s called The Tube), it also has its sights on the NY subway system:

If you remember correctly, Mobilizy, makers of Wikitude, claimed AcrossAir’s application demo is nothing but a mock-up. Seems real to me.
Anyway, Mobilizy is working hard to remind people that Wikitude augmented the world way before SPRXMobile’s Layar. Moreover, one of their tweets suggests that Layar was based on Wikitude’s technology. Indeed, SPRXMobile did cooperate with Mobilizy once, when creating their ATM finder, but it doesn’t prove that Layar is Wikitude in disguise.
Mobilizy also released this video demoing their Wikitude API, and did not miss the opportunity to include some sarcastic remark towards its end:

And in the Eastern front, TechCrunch reports on the almost final version of Tonchidot’s Sekai Camera. Compared this video –

With what we have been promised a year ago:

Well, at least they still have something to aspire to.