Last week, Santa Clara hosted the first global augmented reality event - gathering the developers, creative directors and engineers from around the world who are driving nascent “augmentation” technology into our immediate reality. If you said “Say what?” to that sentence, you will appreciate the following. In the first keynote of the conference, WIRED’s contributing editor Bruce Sterling defined a singular challenge for the assembled that had very little to do with technological wizardry and everything to do with communication: create and shape the language of this brave new world.
While so many eyes have been on magazine and newspaper media and their desperate embrace of mobile technology, one of the most interesting sectors of old media on new platforms is the comics. Long before Apple instituted its newsstand, for instance, DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse and others like powerhouse distributor Comixology were demonstrating how mobile or tablet apps could make superb periodical merchandising machine and reader/library.
Siri is about to get one-upped by Google. The company on Wednesday unveiled a long-rumored concept called "Project Glass," which takes all the functionality of a smartphone and places it into a wearable device that resembles eyeglasses. The see-through lens could display everything from text messages to maps to reminders.
Nike has opened the world’s first NikeFuel Station at the Boxpark in Shoreditch, London. The retail space breaks new boundaries in digital displays and design, aiming to appeal to today’s digitally-enabled athlete.
Today at SXSW, Marvel announced a partnership with Autonomy’s Aurasma platform to lets users watch video trailers of books they see in stores, as well as 3D animation, recaps, and other augmented reality extras by holding their phones up to comics.
People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.
“The leak in your home town” is an iPhone app that lets users see the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill whenever they see a BP logo. A user simply launches the app and aims their iPhone’s camera at the nearest BP logo. What the user sees is one of the broken BP pipes coming out of the BP logo, and out of the pipe comes the oil, pluming upward. “This work mixes computer generated 3D graphics with the iPhone’s video camera to create an augmented reality. The user is able to see the computer generated 3D objects at specific locations in the real world. The 3D graphics create the broken BP pipe which comes out of the BP logo. “An important component of the project is that it uses BP’s corporate logo as a marker, to orient the computer-generated 3D graphics. Basically turning their own logo against them. This repurposing of corporate icons will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses and at the same time will be safe and nondestructive.”
Long gone are the days when 'online' was synonymous with social isolation and loneliness. In fact, we're now witnessing the exact opposite: technology is driving people to connect and meet up en masse with others, in the 'real world'. It makes for an interesting, easily-digested trend, begging to be turned into new services for your customers.
Augmented Reality (AR) is the next keyword wet dream for the online industry buzz word bingo enthusiasts. As social media becomes more ingrained in commercial planning and the excitement fades into practical solutions, it’s inevitable that the new kid on the block will start to make headlines. I think AR is an exciting development. However, behind the pomp that surrounds another buzz word, is there a commercial model that could make AR a practical tool in the e-commerce armoury?
The action figures for James Cameron’s “Avatar” started appearing in stores last month. The movie won’t be out until December, but the toys have their own multimedia selling point: an “augmented reality” feature. This phrase has become one of the pervasive buzz concepts of 2009, and as is often true in such cases, it seems to describe a variety of manifestations from the practical to the pointless to the pie in the sky. Very broadly, augmented reality can be thought of as an inversion of the venerable “virtual reality” buzz concept. Instead of plunging us into a completely digital environment, augmented reality means placing digital things into the regular old world. Those things might be bits of information or renderings of imaginary objects. And they, of course, aren’t really in the real world at all — they just appear to be there if you filter your gaze through the proper screen.
You wouldn't immediately suspect that Yelp's iPhone app might be a gift bestowed upon us by a benevolent superhero from the future. Load it up and the program's in its Clark Kent garb -- a useful-enough guide to local restaurants, bars, and merchants. Then you notice a button labeled monocle in the right-hand corner. Hit it and the screen displays a live feed from the phone's camera, showing exactly what's in front of you -- with one big difference. Aim the camera at a local storefront and Yelp superimposes a star rating on the image. Use Monocle in a hot neighborhood, for instance, and point it at every restaurant for a quick appraisal of the best food in the area. Yelp's app is one of the first "augmented reality," or AR, programs to debut on the iPhone, and though it can be handy, it's most useful as a sign of what's to come.
Augmented Reality is certainly in it’s infancy, and we know that at best, is experimental. I’m new to this space but am watching, and learning from Robert Rice and Dave Elchoness to see how it develops. While a few years out, see the proposed Hype Cycle, let’s spend time thinking about what the future could hold. I’m in intake mode. Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched as many augmented reality youtube clips as possible, reading blog posts (as there are no real articles yet from mainstream) and talking to smart folks. What I’ve noticed? Many videos are folks excited about the toys –yet with little reference to how it impacts business. I’ve also been experimenting with Yelp’s monocle, which is sub-par at best, it’s really early days. My biggest challenge? I’m in the wrong country. The innovation and adoption with these tools will come in Europe and Asia –not the tethered American market.
Yesterday, Nokia released a well-produced video demonstrating what they apparently believe to be the future of augmented reality apps. If you haven't been keeping up with AR, it's just used to denote an information layer placed over what you see. And while AR will certainly be a part of all our realities in the next few years, Nokia has it all wrong.
Augmented Reality is a hot, hot topic at the moment (which is we we've written about it twice today), and promises to revolutionize how you seek local information from your smartphone. But in the years ahead, once it's gone mainstream, you'll begin to hear about the dangers of this augmented version of reality. Here are three obvious problems that we see on the horizon:
We recently described a lot of ways augmented reality (AR) is going to appear on a mobile device near you soon. But now it's here: The first "real" iPhone AR app has gone live in the iTunes App Store. It's specifically for Parisians. But it's arrived earlier than expected--weeks before Apple said it would be allowed. And by early, we mean it's arrived in the App Store by stealth, snuck in as an added-feature in an update to an existing app--Metro Paris Subway. It's unofficial because technically Apple's is not opening the doors to full AR until it releases the new 3.1 code for the iPhone, which is widely expected in September. This code will add in a few more hooks to make AR apps work in a fully-integrated way with the iPhone's video functions...but it seems that Metro Paris's developers PresseLite have found a way to get it all working pretty well with the existing iPhone 3.0 code.
Until recently, augmented reality existed mainly in movies like The Minority Report and computer science labs at universities, where technologists grappled with comically clunky headgear. Now, however, several new Web and mobile applications are changing minds and helping to bring AR into the mainstream.