Merry Weekly Linkfest

Two important events are coming this week –

  1. The conclusion of our little project, collecting augmented reality predictions for the new year.
  2. Christmas

Although the former event is much more important, for some strange reason, I was swamped this week with links relating to the latter. A short list of holiday related AR application that caught my eye since my last post “it’s the season to be augmented“:

Whoof!
Oh right, there were other news this week. Augmented Planet published their results for the first AR people-choice awards. Wikitude won the browsers category, but which participitant won the Chumby? Layar had to withdraw Layar 3.0 from the appstore. Thomas Carpenter has a listing of the worst AR uses this year. A good use is to encourage people to donate blood, like they do in Japan. Total Immersion created Avatar related AR apps for McDonalds and Coke. Wallpaper magazine fancies an AR edition. And another week, another car gets an AR campaign (though it’s technically from June).

The weekly video shows Total Immersion’s implementation of a haunted house in Japan. Thomas wrote a full post about it, while I just tweeted that it looks really scarry:

Have a great week and merry augmented Christmas, if that concerns you!

Weekly Linkfest

Yes, the moment you were all waiting for, it’s time for another weekly linkfest –

Google Goggles Galore:

  • Google Goggles review at Augmented Planet. Nice overview, and a good video showing some of Goggles capabilities.
  • Google Goggles is the real thing, or so claims Blake Callens of Zugara. Nice video showing it identifying a dart board.
  • The Enkin guys announce that they were acquired by Google and hint about their involvement in Goggles. (I’m just a bit skeptic).

And in other mobile browsers news:

And finally:

This week’s video is of Ogmento’s Brian Selzer evangelistic talk at the Humanity+ conference “Reinventing Reality with AR” . Though most of his examples should be familiar to this blog’s patrons, he is a really good talker, and I’ve enjoyed the whole 15 minutes of his presentation (via GigantiCo):

[Games Alfresco readers, go to Gigantico to see the clip if it doesn’t work for you]

Have a nice week!

Three Comments on Wikitude’s Augmented World Trade Center

So, Mobilizy just released a new update for Wikitude, one that allows you to point your phone at ground zero and see a 3d virtual version of the Twin Towers on the phone’s screen.

  • First we should congratulate Mobilizy for intergrating 3d objects into Wikitude. That’s only two weeks after Layar made a similar move. If I understand correctly, Wikitude doesn’t let folks upload their own 3d models yet, but that’s surely not that difficult.
  • We should also congratulate Mobilizy for a smart marketing move. Yes, it’s very respectful, and I actually think that there should be such a virtual memorial. However, one cannot deny that such videos as the above create buzz, something that Wikitude’s competitors usually excel at. I can only imagine the impact of such application if they had released it last month, for 9/11.
  • I’m fascianted by how the AR illusion is completly destroyed at around 00:18, when the buildings look very small just because there’s a tree in the background. That’s not Wikitude’s fault, but it just shows us how much there’s still to be done to make AR look good.

More details at TechCrunch.

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!

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.

Battle of the AR Browsers

Three weeks after its launch, SPRXMobile’s Layar partially opens up its layer creation API to developers. It’s not freely available online (bad decision?), however, interested developers can register here, and may be among the lucky 50 to get access keys to the API. The press release is here.
Meanwhile, Mobilizy (creator of Wikitude) is not keeping silent. They congratulated SPRXMobile on their twitter account, and placed a comment on Layar’s press release:

On behalf of Mobilizy GmbH the developers of the original Wikitude AR Travel Guide we would like to congratulate SPRX Mobile in their efforts to help shape the Mobile augmented reality landscape.

Good Job!

Mobilizy also put this picture depicting Wikitude on the iPhone 3GS, and released the following advertisement video

and commented about AcrossAir’s Tube Locator application, saying “you can tell it is fake if you look closely”.

All this while both SPRXMobile and Mobilizy are founding members in the new AR Consortium. So, am I making a lot of noise out of nothing? Probably, after all I’m a blogger!

Update: Mobilizy just announced that they will let user add their own tags to the world via Wikitude.me and that they open up their API in a closed beta. And thus begins the battle to control the mobile AR world!

Weekly Linkfest

This week on the linkfest, it’s trains, snails and mobile phones:

In last week’s linkfest I reported about the strange event named “The World Series Of ‘Tubing”, where two players play card war with Youtube videos render via augmented reality. Surely, such description doesn’t make the event any clearer, but luckily the guys behind it have put the following video on Youtube to explain it all: