In the digital space, we’re always looking at what the next trend is going to be. We’re paid to ensure we’re in the loop of “what’s hot” and how our company and/or clients can implement it into their business. As such, for the past 12 months I’ve been completely fascinated with augmented reality (AR). In my opinion, and if I had to scale the level of opportunity, impact and importance, AR would be on the top of my list for trends-to-watch.
Augmented Reality has been around for quite some time, with its roots dating back to the late 50s – the term “augment reality” was coined in 1992. While there have been a significant amount of uses of AR, the most well-known to the general public is the yellow “first down” line used in the National Football League. However, as the smart phone has continued to occupy more hands and more of our daily lives, AR has begun to get more attention. As a result, more companies and brands are beginning to explore AR and put more emphasis on its potential use.
For the sake of trying to keep this article short, I’ll focus mostly on mobile use, but will touch briefly on examples of AR outside the mobile space.
• Location overlay: Right now, the broadest and most basic use of AR is in terms of location. You can use Yelp’s AR app, for example, to find a nearby restaurant, hotel, hospital, shopping outlet, etc.; and then get reviews and tips on Lonely Planet’s AR app.
• Information: For those who like to travel, you can use Wikitude World Browser to find information and data about a variety of points of interest. Not only that, but museums are starting to use AR for their exhibits and to share information. One of the coolest apps that I’ve recently started playing with is Sekai, which allows you to tag a location with information (photos, text, video)
One of the most intriguing uses of AR comes in the potential collaboration with location-based services. Imagine the uses of an AR-LBS partnership for city and state departments. I’m imaging a protocol where data about everyone who visits a certain location is stored in the cloud and only accessible by local police departments. Say a store was robbed, a child gone missing, or someone assaulted. Your local police could simply point their phone at a designated location and see everyone who was at or near that location within a given time period. An interesting and useful way to cut down on crime and violence.
[via: Real @ Real] Munich, September 29th, 2010 – metaio GmbH, the leading expert on Augmented Reality (AR), held a conference in Munich, called ”insideAR”, with focus on current practical applications in marketing and industry as well as on the future of this exciting field, which is being identified by many analysts as one of the most disruptive technologies of the years to come. 250 attendees from many countries and industries were able to follow insightful presentations by Intel, Nokia, Siemens and others about their company`s contributions and plans regarding AR. As the many money-earning practical applications on display during the conference demonstrated, Augmented Reality is definitely here to stay and has found its place in everyday life. metaio, as conference host, took opportunity to present its view of market opportunities, its vision of a seamless interconnection between the real and the digital world, and the kind of advanced technologies available already or being developed at the metaio labs at this point in time.
The founders of metaio, Thomas Alt and Peter Meier, opened the conference with the message that the technology has matured to the point that more and more practical applications are being implemented today in marketing and industry. AR has definitely left the hype stage and is entering our daily life in many useful ways. Pointing to the results of a market study by ABI Research, with an exploding market size for augmented reality of 360 million USD by 2014, metaio´s CEO Thomas Alt could demonstrate how closely the revenue curve of metaio matches the growth rate, both past and projected, of this new and vibrant industry.
Peter Meier, one of the world`s recognized experts in the field,presented his vision of closing the gap between the real world and the traditional desktop as we know it. Advanced AR software running on powerful mobile devices, such as smartphones, capable of object / image recognition and natural feature tracking will allow the user to experience the real world effortlessly enriched by informative displays as relevant to him personally in terms of preference, time and location. Advances in software, chip making, device capabilities and imaginative content all combine to create a whole host of new experiences and application opportunities.
During the conference the metaio team presented many prototypes of such new technologies. One of these is marker-less (3D) image recognition, representing one of the most important R&D projects at metaio to help the vision of the “Augmented City” become reality: walking around the real world, pointing your phone at objects, buildings or directions and being offered helpful information, be it text, sound, video or complete 3D displays not only overlaid, but integrated accurately with the object viewed. The right architecture for Visual Search, the right distribution platforms for AR experiences
In order to use objects in the real world as optical references,one of the most important prerequisites are improved algorithms for visual search in combination with an intelligent service architecture, which an AR browser like junaio can use to create a fully augmented world. In his keynote address, Dr. Haussecker from Intel´s Interaction and Experience Research Lab explained the progress made in this field: “In Intel Labs, we research how mobile platforms can be optimized in the future to enable capabilities for compute performance, power management, sensing and contextual awareness to deliver a preferred mobile AR (MAR) experience. Designing and delivering superior MAR applications is where companies like metaio are leading this new market.”
Other important prerequisites for creating meaningful AR experiences are the continuing advances in smartphone technology . The estimated 1.3 billion smartphones in use by 2013 represent a hotly contested market. Riku Suomela, a producer at Nokia, explained the AR experiences already available for current Symbian devices: “Nokia`s Ovi Store offers developers and partners a worldwide distribution platform to hundreds of millions of people. Our own game “Conspiracy For Good” or the “Zombie ShootAR” by metaio are some of many examples where we already deliver great augmented reality experiences to our users.”
With shipment on Symbian OS scheduled for the end of October, junaio, metaio`s mobile AR browser, will then run on more than 50% of all smartphones in the world, to be downloaded at the Android Marketplace, the iTunes App Store and the Ovi Store. junaio running on Nokia`s N8 could already be seen at the recent Nokia World.
Peter Meier also provided a first look at some of the additional features in the 3.0 release of junaio: there will be an optional advertising program (comparable to Google´s Adsense) in order to monetize channels and a completely revised user interface for quicker navigation and an even more intuitive user experience.
More than 1.100 developers have started to use junaio`s open API to implement their ideas and business models. This growing popularity and the unique technical features available on the junaio platform have convinced one of the most creative developers for mobile AR content, “Tab Worldmedia”, to bring their successful channels, TwitARound or Worksnug, over to junaio. And with “kino.de” – the biggest German website for cinema and movies – another great channel was presented for the first time. In this new channel users can see cinemas around and after one click they are directed to the schedule, the route or the trailer for the featured movies.
You can find an elaborate technology and company portrait here:
What is Layar?
The Layar Reality Browser is a beautiful, fun augmented reality app that shows you what is around you by displaying real time digital information (layers) on top of reality. This digital information is called a ‘layer’.
There are many layers to choose from, for example Architecture 3D, Foursquare, Google local search, Third Echelon, Trulia, Twitter, Wikipedia, and Yellowpages.
There are hundreds of layers; both international and local. Have a go and experience it yourself.
How does Layar’s Augmented Reality work?
The idea is simple: Layar works by using a combination of the mobile phone’s camera, GPS, compass, accelerometer and a mobile Internet connection. The camera captures the world as seen through its lens and shows it on the screen. The GPS determines the exact location and the compass and accelerometer the field of view. Based on these sensors and the selected layer, digital information is retrieved over a mobile Internet connection and augmented on top of the camera view.
Layar provides services and experiences
Layers can provide services, such as finding ATMs, houses for sale and restaurants including reviews. Layers can also provide an experience with interactivity, 3D objects and sounds for games and engaging guided tours. Many layers provide both.
How do you use Layar?
Select a layer from the local, featured or popular tab. Or search the Layar catalog using any keyword to quickly find what you’re looking for. Hold the phone in front of you. See information being displayed on top of the camera display view. By turning around, you can point your phone toward the various Points of Interest. Adjust settings (filters) by clicking the wheel button in the bottom left corner. For all Points of Interest which are displayed on the screen, information is shown at the bottom of the screen. By clicking on the arrow you will see how you can interact with that specific Point of Interest. Use the map and list views to see all points in one screen.
– If you’re experiencing a crash at startup, please uninstall/reinstall the app. There seems to be an issue with migration of the data from earlier versions in certain cases.
This app does NOT run on iPhone 3G or iPod Touch.
Layar Reality Browser uses a mobile Internet connection, camera, GPS, compass, and accelerometer to function properly. An iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 will give the best experience.
Over 1,000 people have now taken part in a world first in Manchester – finding virtual monsters hidden among landmarks throughout the city. The free Manchester Monster Hunt uses an Augmented Reality (AR) app to enable members of the public to find virtual objects within the physical world, from Demons on Deansgate to Poltergeists at The Printworks, using an iPhone or Android phone. Once a monster is found, there are opportunities to slay them to win prizes, or photograph yourself and friends alongside the beast. Photos are starting to appear on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flicker.
The campaign is the brainchild of Manchester-based Gencia Media and its AR arm, Your Brand Reality. “Until now, AR has mainly been used for practical purposes – such as finding the nearest underground station in London or GPS tourist landmarks including hotels and restaurants,” says campaign manager, Gary Lovatt. “We wanted to take AR a step further by engaging the public in something fun, exciting and addictive, both online and on their phones. The opportunity for them to win prizes offers a great incentive too, and a brand new platform for the campaign’s sponsors to engage with their various audiences.”
The campaign, which has already featured Vampires and Zombies, will release a new beast every week leading up to Halloween and beyond. As Halloween approaches, other cities throughout the UK are also expected to receive their own guest ‘visits’ from the Monsters.
You can download the free Monster Hunt app, via AR browser, Layar. There’s more information about the campaign here.