Weekly Linkfest

It’s time again for the weekly linkfest. Let’s see what else happened this week in the world of augmented reality:

In the realm of mobile browsers:

  • SREngine has a new video out showing its slick user interface.
  • Hong Kong’s Leisure Guide – yet another AR browser (YAARB™)
  • Metaio announces the coming release of Junaio, but doesn’t give much information about what Junaio really is.

And in other news:

  • Total Immersion now enters the world of soccer trading cards, at least in Italy.
  • You can get pregnant without the morning sickness via the wonders of Flash based AR.
  • The Virtec project is a thesis project using AR to teach about Aztec culture by means of a book and a head mounted display.

This week’s video revisits one of this blog’s reoccurring themes, the Transformers (previously here and here). This application comes with the Transformers coming DVD, or as this trailer puts it “Prepare for Augmented Reality! An exclusive 3D Holographic Experience!”:

Have a nice week!

Weekly Linkfest

Actually, it was a relatively quiet week in the ARSphere. Here are some links to news bits that I haven’t had the time to cover over here:

In the mobile AR front:

  • Kooaba is an iPhone application that much like Snaptell (or Nokia’s “Point and Find”) lets you take a picture of a product and get information about it. Now they venture into the realm of AR browsers, but since they fail to show their image-based browser working on a real iPhone, I’ll remain skeptic for now.
  • Cyborg is an AR application that helps you find the cheapest gas station around. Yes, they could do that with a simple map, but that’s like having a web 2.0 site without rounded corners.
  • And if you live in Hong Kong, forget about gas prices, just use this application to find the nearest train.

And in other news:

This week video comes from Techcrunch’s favorite Tonchidot, makers of the Sekai Camera. Apparently their application was finally submitted to the iPhone’s appstore, and we may soon compare it to other AR browsers. The next video is indeed in Japanese, but starting from 0:45 you can easily understand what’s going on, even if you are not a native Japanese speaker. It certainly has some Japanese flair to it:

Have a nice week!

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.

Open Letter to Apple: Let us Augment Reality with the iPhone!

A letter sent to Apple Developer Relations.

Dear Apple,

We are a collection of augmented reality (AR) enthusiasts and professionals (from business and academia), who have been working on a multitude of AR apps for the iPhone. These apps are poised to change the way people interact with the real world.

But here is the rub: we are currently unable to publish these apps on the app store because the iPhone SDK lacks public APIs for manipulating live video.

We are asking Apple to provide a public API to access live video in real time, on the iPhone.
We will be happy to offer additional technical details.

The impact of augmented reality (AR) on our lives could be as significant as the introduction of the PC.
In 10 years, we believe augmented reality will change the way everyone experiences travel, design, training, personal productivity, health care, entertainment, games, art, and advertising (videos).

Looking back just a few years, AR pioneers had to hack a slew of components into ridiculously large backpacks and HUDs, and be confined to rigged environments. Nowadays, it comes in friendly, affordable packages and the iPhone is one of the first devices to have it all – except for a public API.

The battle to determine the winning device has already begun; a public API to access live video will give the iPhone a lucrative ticket to compete.
We believe Apple has a window of opportunity of about 3 months before developers start looking elsewhere. If Apple decides to publish the API in that time frame – in the next 10 years, everyone might be using the iPhone as the preferred device to interact with the real world.

Here is how augmented reality could open up new opportunities for the iPhone this year:

Arf (Georgia Tech)

a virtual pet you take anywhere

ARghhhh (Georgia Tech)

first person table-top action game

Sekai Camera (Tonchidot)

AirTag the real world

Kweekies (int13)

a portal to creatures in a parallel world

Layar (SPRXmobile)

Browse the world with an AR browserDetails

Artoolkit for the iPhone (Artoolworks)

the most popular AR kit now on the iPhone

StudierStube ES (Imagination, Graz TU)

the only AR engine designed for mobile devices, now on iPhoneDetails

PTAM on the iPhone (Oxford University)

next generation AR tracking with no markers or images

Wikitude (Mobilizy)

a travel guide that “tells you what you see”

Virtual Santa (Metaio)

interactive Christmas application using the augmented reality

Augmented Reality Sightseeing (Fraunhofer IGD)

Historic photographs overlaid on your field of view while strolling in a street

These are apps that are practically ready to go. There is a whole bunch of apps and games that are just waiting for the API to be available.

…And Apple, we know you can’t share your plans…so please surprise us soon!

Many many thanks for your consideration –
Sincerely,

Signed:
Michael Gervautz – Managing Director Imagination GesmbH
Robert Rice – CEO Neogence
Georg Klein – PhD PTAM creator from Oxford University
Stephane Cocquereaumont –  President & Lead Developer Int13 (Kweekies)
Maarten Lens-FitzGerald – Founder & Partner SPRXmobile, developer of Layar
Ori Inbar – Author of GamesAlfresco.com and CEO and founder – Ogmento (formerly Pookatak Games)
Philippe Breuss – Lead developer, Mobilizy
Philip R. Lamb – CTO, Artoolworks
Noora Guldemond – Metaio
Takahito Iguchi – CEO, Tonchidot
Blair MacIntyre – Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

Bruno Uzzan – CEO, Total Immersion
Michael Zoellner
Fraunhofer IGD
Andrea Carignano – CEO,  Seac02

If you are developing an AR app for the iPhone and wish to join this effort – just let us know.

11 Industries to be Reinvented with Augmented Reality

We have been raving about how Augmented Reality will reinvent reality. Which slices of “reality” will be affected by AR first? Researchers and entrepreneurs worldwide are already plotting its impact on specific industries.

Investors – here’s a chance to educate yourselves.

Here are 11 of my favorite clips depicting industries reinvented with augmented reality:
(Credits inside the videos)

1. Advertising

Despite being the first on the ar band wagon, the $600 Trillion ad industry has used AR as a gimmick. It has the potential to literally bring consumers to products and totally reinvent itself.

2. Art

Street art democratized minus the vandalism.

Here is another fantastic example – a free form street art.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

3. Design

Real-collaboration, real-time, real-life design

4. Entertainment

Entertainment content could reach you in every part of your day AND be relevant to your surroundings.

5. Health care

Doctors: you have the information – now use it in context of your patient.

6. Learning

Books reinvented. Gutenberg must be turning in his grave.

7. Maintenance

See through walls, floors and roofs? awesome dude – I wanna be in maintenance!

8. Personal Productivity

No more being glued to a screen. No more screens. No more (visible) hardware.

9. Retail

Stores and products talk to you about themselves (but only when you want…)

And from the consumer perspective – shopping will be reinvented

10. Tourism

Your personal tourist guide, anywhere you go.

11. Training

User manuals are dead. Watch the instructions live in your field of view.

What industry would you like to reinvent?

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.)

ar-device-comparison3

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.

sekai-camera

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”

Subscribe (top right) to get the complete 2008 wrap up series.

Unveiling Tonchidot: A Cool Parallel World – on the iPhone

Yesterday, at the TechCrunch 50 conference in San Francisco, a small start up from Tokyo stole the show; the name: Technidot, the cool product they unveil: Sekai Camera (World Camera) running on the iPhone.

In their own words, the Sekai Camera is:

…a real-world interface for the iPhone that connects real and virtual worlds, allowing anybody to create, experience and participate in both.

While at your favorite mall, point your iPhone camera at things around you such as food, toys, art, transit maps, and get detailed information about it. More fun for you, more business for retailers.

AirFilter takes care of the customized search to bring you the additional information, based on a database generated by advertizers.

And you’re not on your own; the Sekai Camera is also a social networking environment: leave messages to your friends – in space – so they can see it when they pass by.

Isn’t that a killer augmented reality application?

And Tonchidot’s take on Evolution could become the symbol of the AR revolution…

Here is the coverage of the demo by Anthony Ha on VentureBeat : including enthusiasts and skeptics.

This just in! More skeptics!

Blair MacIntyre finds it hard to believe it’s real. The TechCrunch panelists were amused and confused but blamed it on the language barrier.

What do you think? Is it real? or really augmented?

Filip, many thanks for the tip!