Augmented Reality, Now with Wings

Proctor & Gamble has launched a new AR campaign to promote some kind of Always “Infinity Pads”.

Since I’ve offended to many people in the last few weeks I’ll keep mum this time. However, the kind people at AgencySpy, who are also responsible for uploading the above video to Youtube, had this to say:

This campaign is complete crap. …
P&G pitched the AR piece to you ladies as magic, which of course it isn’t. This is the kind of advertising that reiterates how ineffective “look at me” work truly is. It’s also annoying and dilutes the power of this new tool for those who have salient ideas for how to use it.

Even more amazing is that this is not even the first AR campaign for feminine product to have an AR ad. Kotex (in Turkey) had one a few months ago.

via AgencySpy where you can also read the ridiculous press release by Proctor & Gamble.

Cool Augmented Business Card from Toxin Labs

While the whole web is gushing over James Alliban‘s augmented business card, I find the next implementation even more exciting. Don’t get me wrong, Alliban’s card is cool, but this one is a bit more useful:

It was created by Jonas Jäger, and more importantly, he doesn’t plan to keep the technology to himself. Jäger plans to release a front-end application that will let you create your own “presentation” that will be displayed when your business card is flashed in front of a web camera. It uses a QR code to identify your card from others, and an AR marker to have FLARToolKit something to get a fix on. All in all, it answers Thomas Carpenter’s call to create a service for these kind of augmented business cards, and really looks good.

(Augmented Business Card at Toxin Labs)

Virtual products with Augmented Reality

Dutch website (what’s with all those Dutch companies lately?) YouTellMe.com, which specializes in social shopping online (e.g. recommendation engines) has just launched a new augmented reality application, letting you see how your favorite electronic products look like in the palm of your hand (or in your living room).
By harnessing the power of your webcam, Flash, and probably FlarToolKit (though, I failed to prove it), you can now try the new iPhone, or that Canon camera you always coveted:

Actually, since style and appearance play a big part these days when we are out to buy a new gadget, I can imagine such an application would have a market (much like those magic mirrors that let you try on jewelery and accessories). Though, IMHO, it could be much improve if instead of simply printing a marker, you would be able to print a simple paper-craft box with markers on its sides, that although will require some folding, will give you some more “hands on” experience.

Zugara’s Mirror has Great Features (except one)

Los Angeles based, but Japanese named interactive marketing agency Zugara has launched a couple of days ago a new application named “The Webcam Social Shopper“.
Basically, it’s a magic mirror application that let’s you try on different clothes. But, there’s so much more to it – the user interface is engaged via motion detection, and you can take a photo of yourself with your new virtual clothes, and share it on facebook with your friend. However, one thing this application fails to do, is to show you whether any of the clothes fit, as they all stay static and don’t interact with your body movements. I don’t expect this application to improve the 3.57% conversion rate state in the next video.

Now, this application is only in alpha state, and a lot can change until it goes public. And admittedly, Zugara has some nice ideas on the future use cases of such application (e.g. shop together with your friends, online). Nevertheless, I think it’s too early for it to become useful. Maybe when Project Natal matures, but not now.

Oh, and lest I forget, this technology is patent pending. Great.

Update: Techcrunch had a similar article about Zugara a few days ago.

Credit Wars Made Easy

It was bound to happen. As augmented reality becomes more and more prevalent, it was all a matter of time till someone took credit for something he is probably not entitled for. Enter Chris Hughes best known for jailbreaking the first iPhone. Last February, at TED palmsprings, Hughes briefly showcased his work that “makes creating ‘augmented reality’ a cinch”.

(video was pulled down by TED, but here you can still watch it)

If this demo looks familiar to you, you are not alone. Ralph Hauwert, a Papervision3d developer, took offence at Hughes talk, and subsequent interview. According to Hauwert, Huges is taking credit for porting ARToolKit to flash, while he only took FLARToolKit and “followed a tutorial like this one from the FlashBlog, then gathered all his courage and energy to work with 2 opensource projects and take credit for it” (source).

Apparently, TED folks are working to fix things up. Till then, you can find more details over Hauwert’s blog.

[author comment: I published this post a few days ago at Augmented Times, and deemed as uninteresting enough for Games Alfresco. Per Ori’s request, I repost it here as well. Since a few days have gone by, you might want to check the featured links for more up to date information]

AR, no Programming Knowledge Needed

Do you want to play with AR, but too afraid you don’t have the required programming knowledge needed? Now you have two applications to play with from the comfort of your own home.

First is Metaio Unifeye Design. Available freely in an (almost fully featured) demo version, this tool is far from being a toy. You can create elaborate scenarios of marker based and marker-less image based augmented reality without writing a single line of code. You can test your creations with your web-camera or using a prerecorded video clip of a marker. There’s even a tool for creating new markers.

However, such flexibility does come with a price. I had a hard time working with the user interface beyond the basic functions, and I’m quite sure I only scratched the surface of what’s possible with this tool. That’s why I had this application installed for about a month now, but I was hesitant about writing anything about it.
Metaio claims that video tutorials are coming shortly, and I think they are very much needed (and I’m a programmer in my spare time :).
In more somber news, you can’t use your own 3d models, or export your scenarios as a stand alone application. You probably have to pay for those features.

Now, if Metaio Unifeye Design was a bit too complex for you, the next application is truly augmented reality for beginners. It’s called Atomic, and it wraps ARToolKit to give you the basic functionality of augmenting markers with VRML 3d objects when you examine them using your webcam. The application source is available to download as well, so eager programmers may add more features to it in the future. Another advantage of this tool is that it allows you to import and use your own models. However, don’t expect to amaze any AR veteran using it.

Once again:
Unifeye Design
Atomic (Atomic via Rising Wisely)
Happy Augmenting!

InVizimals – AR Game for the PSP

Yet another quick post, just before I go to (my real) work. Sony is developing its own AR game for a camera enhanced PSP, named InVizimals. A combination of GhostWire and int13’s Kweekies, players have to hunt around their houses for monsters, and later can set the monsters to fight each other. I really like how they combine the player’s real world actions (casting a shadow, shaking the PSP, etc.) in the gameplay.

Here’s the teaser:

and here’s an in game view:

Via GameSetWatch.

Useful AR from the US Postal Service

The USPS has a very neat AR application, which is also surprisingly useful. Using FLARToolKit, you can now see if the stuff you intend to send fits in any of the flat-rate boxes. As the novelty augmented reality fad becomes old very quickly, I hope more companies will favor a more useful approach to AR.

usps_ar

Try it yourself here, via Living in Augmented Reality.

Stop Using AR to Sell Cars – Part Two

Nissan has a new augmented reality campaign to promote their cars. It’s much better than their old campaign promoting only the Cube, but it’s still meh. But don’t you think that they didn’t consider my plead to stop using AR to sell cars (go there to see their former use of AR, as well as many other augmented car campaigns). They actually think that’s the right decision. Here, see for yourself:

stopusingar

No video this time, sorry. Via Twitter, on every other mention of augmented reality.

The Augmented Real Slim Shady

Let’s start with a little contest – whoever comes with a better play on words for a title will be named the king of AR puns.
Polydor Records, which is a British record label and part of Universal Music Group, has set up a competition to promote Eminem’s new record Relapse. Contestants are asked to spray a virtual graffiti on an augmented “E” letter (using a FLARToolKit application). Then you may upload your creation to a web-gallery for the whole world to see.

As for the prizes –

You could win the trip of a lifetime to visit Em’s home town of Detroit on an all expenses paid trip (flight and accommodation). Plus, once you’ve touched down you’ll be whisked off to attend a top secret official Eminem album launch event.

You see, you don’t even get to meet with Eminem himself (who, I guess, was never consulted about this marketing campaign). Currently, the gallery features only two entries, so you may actually “win” it. Go here to try out your luck.