2008 Wrap Up: Top 10 Milestones in Augmented Reality

2008 was a great year for augmented reality.

This emerging technology is on a 15-plus-year-long journey from the lab and into the mainstream. With too many events to list, 2008 marks an important year in that quest.

Here is the countdown of the top 10 most important AR milestones of 2008:

10) Otellini’s CES keynote showcases AR technology

The year started with the largest consumer electronics show CES. Total Immersion’s demo had the attention of the entire consumer electronics community during Otellini’s (Intel CEO) 2008 keynote.

9) Video game gurus recognize AR as the future of gaming

My personal idol in the game industry, Will Wright, delivered the best augmented reality quote of the year. When describing AR as the way of the future for games, he explained:

Games could increase our awareness of our immediate environment, rather than distract us from it”.

Futurist Bruce Sterling made controversial statements about games in 2043 in front of a developer only audience in the Austin Game Developer Conference . Here is one statement that stood above all:

“What do the games of 2043 look like? “I think you would call [them]  ‘augmented reality’”

8) ISMAR 2008

The world’s most important augmented reality event, ISMAR 2008, was more significant than ever. It  demonstrated, above all, the level of maturity AR research has reached.

7) High end mobile AR devices hit the market

2008 gave rise to a flood of new AR-worthy mobile devices: iPhone 3G (see below), Android based G1, Itelco’s IDOL, HTC’s Touch HD, Blackberry’s Storm, Nokia N97… It also signaled the dawn of hands free AR with prototype glasses and contact lens (see Top 10 devices.)


6) iPhone and App store

It might not be the best AR device but it certainly has the most buzz. In 2008, the iPhone was highly sought after by game developers and researchers. The App store which amassed 10,000 apps in half a year, offers an instant distribution model for AR games. In 2008, the iPhone was the gadget to beat.

5) Native mobile tracking engines released

AR engines and tools did not stay behind in 2008 and delivered new tracking engines for the hottest platforms du jour. Some notable examples include ARToolkit for iPhone, AR in Flash, and Studierstube ES for mobile phones. See the entire collection of engines and tools.

4) AR apps win acclaim in major competitions

AR made headlines in 2008 with 2 applications that dribbled into top 50 lists: Tonchidot made the Crunch50 and Wikitude made the Android 50 finalists. Total Immersion won another award at NVISION ’08 for Best Application of Visual Computing.


3) AR games win awards

Ghostwire may or may not be the first AR game to win a game award. But, 2008 was certainly the first year were 6 out 0f top 10 games were selected as finalists in game awards such as Nokia’s Mobile Innovation Challenge.

One AR game did not win any awards this year, but was certainly an audience favorite (the most hits): Cyber Figure Alice – the first adult only AR game.

2) Major investments in AR research

Media Power made significant investments in augmented reality research organizations around the world. If the $5M for GA Tech GVU donnation and $2.7M for NZ HIT Lab donnation don’t speak for itself, the results are already showing:

1) Record commercial deals

The AR market picked up steam in 2008 with high visibility deals such as Total Immersion’s with Six Flags (“magically superimpose clown masks on riders” as their waiting for the Dark Night ride) and Metaio (book deals with publishers ArsEdition and Knowledge Media). Metaio also scored a lucrative advertising contract to promote the MINI.

What, in your opinion, was the most significant augmented reality milestone in 2008?

Whatever you do, don’t miss “If the Augmented Reality Industry Got a Report Card”

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