Sixth Sense at TED India

I thought that the next talk given by MIT's Pranav Mistry at TED India earlier this month was worth posting over here. True, most of the use cases shown in this video were already presented on February. And true, Graz's Daniel wagner was absolutely right calling Sixth Sense conceptual.
Yet, even as a conceptual work, it's beautiful, and the new "dragging real life to the computer screen" demo makes this video worth watching (or just jump to it at the 10 minute mark):

Weekly Linkfest

Another week passed by, and here we are again, at the weekly linkfest. Today on the linkfest:
This week's video is of a photo booth at Las Vegas that lets you try different hats. I just find this guy's reactions really funny (and the augmentation is quite good) [via DMfO]

Have a great week!

Virtual Makeup is not ready for Prime Time yet

Following video presents a cooperation between Korea's drugstore Oliveyoung and Samsung (if Google Translate serves me right). Never mind it's not applied in real time and requires user interaction, but does it increase your sales, making your customers look like clowns?

Well I guess it's a step in the right direction, but probably the technology is not ready for prime time yet.

Augmented Reality and the Future of Social Interactiona

Jessica Lamb, a student at Georgetown University pursuing a Master's degree in Communication, Culture & Technology asks:

If we are more easily able to find information about things and people around us — how do you think that might change the way we interact with people when we rely more and more on computers to deliver information we used to rely on people for?

Do you think that easier access to information will help or hinder meaningful social interactions? Will it create a bigger gap between people who can leverage virtual communications to widen their social network and those who are more reclusive? Do you think AR is more likely to expand or shrink the majority of people's social networks?

Like many other technologies, scifi grade augmented reality can have both a positive and negative effect on one's social life. Reclusive people will find the loss of anonymity a real threat, making them even more reclusive. On the other hand, friendly people will find more people to befriended with, and common interests with strangers.
Some will think of AR as a wonderful technology that transfers all the advantages of cyberspace to the real world, and for others, it will bring the dangers.

And yet, Jessica (and yours truly) are interested in your opinion on the subject. Be a science fiction author for a day and share your thoughts in the comments.

Weekly Linkfest

A slow news week, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Nevertheless, here are some augmented reality related news from around the web:
Weekly quote comes from the fantastic piece, Augmented Reality Network Crashes, Leaving Millions Dataless, imagining a news article from the future:

“I started chatting with a very nice man in line with me at the deli near by office,” said Chicago resident Sue Spiches. “I was waiting for information about him to pop up on my contact lenses, but it never came. For all I know, he was a registered sex offender or a Mormon.”
And this week's video comes to us from MindSpace Solutions a spinout company from Hit Lab NZ, which created a device called the Digital Binocular Station. Using extra sensitive sensors in the base station, this pair of binoculars can augmented a museum display (or any other room) in a way unmatched by any of their competitors, or at least that's what the video suggests. I'll have to visit New Zealand to try it out (here's my vote for holding ISMAR 2011 in New Zealand).

Have a great week!

ARScope: Augmented Reality Through the Crystal Ball

ARScope originally Presented at SIGGRAPH 2008 by the University of Tokyo (yes, the guys behind ARForce), is obviously not a new concept. However, as far as I can see, it got only little coverage at the time, and certainly deserves our attention.

ARScope is an interesting combination of old world metaphors such as a magnifying glass and a crystal ball, head mounted display and projected AR. The user holds a handheld device covered by reflective material, on which an image is projected from a micro-projector the user wears on his head. Two cameras, one on the handheld device and one on the headset, and a sophisticated algorithm are used to calculate the user's point of view relative to the handheld device, and thus ARScope is able to project a suitable image. In the case of the crystal ball, it even allows two users to see two different perspectives on the augmented world.

Can't understand why no-one has commercialized this idea yet. It seems to be far more natural than HMD that blocks your peripheral vision.

Another video can be found here, and an interview with one of ARScope's creators is here. More details on the project's website.

Spads and Fokkers - Brainy AR

I always enjoy featuring a hobbyist augmented reality project, and Davide Byron's (aka @Need2Revolt) game "Spads and Fokkers" is especially pleasing. On the face of it, it doesn't look anything special, two virtual planes having a dog fight, using a marker for easy augmented reality:

The twist is in the method the user may exploit in order to control the planes, using a brain-computer interface. Writes Byron:

As for the control mechanism, we actually have some devices that are able to read brianwaves and infere what the user is thinking about, so the choice was easy. The newest and most promising headset for thought control is the epoc, not yet on the market, but with a free SDK I can play with. With this technologies I was actually able to develop something that works and doesn't need any special stuffs you can't buy off the shelf. In the story, the players controls 3 airplane each, but in practice it was too hard to simultaneusly control 3 airplanes, so I reduced the number to a single airplane for each player. Furthermore, since the airplanes are not projected into the real world, it's suggested you wear a HMD.

You can download the binaries and source code and learn more about this interesting project here.

Weekly Linkfest

Here are some more augmented reality news stories that happened this week:
We are signing off this week with a new video out of TU Graz, showing adding annotations online to panoramas. I've written about it in more detail before, here, so we can just relax and enjoy the video this time:

Have a nice week!


Metaio's Junaio is out.
Since I still don't have an iPhone 3gs (damn you job-place, you've promised me one for the past six months!), I can't tell much more than what have already been said:
Over all the reviews are very positive, and since it's free you can't lose. iTunes link here.

New Video for ARForce

Back when my blog had just a few visitors (only nine months ago), I wrote about ARForce. In a nutshell, ARForce is a concept input device that harness infrared to create something akin to a 3d multitouch marker.

Luckily, Tokyo University, which is behind ARForce, has just uploaded a new video demoing the use of ARForce is several scenarios, so this cool concept will gain larger exposure:

You can find more details, and another video of this device on my original post, or go directly to the project's homepage.

The Kindle Test

According to some estimates, up till now, Amazon sold more than one million units of Kindle.

That's one million units for a device that is not a phone, doesn't include a camera, can't guide you from point A to B, has a grayscale screen, and really doesn't do much but serving as an e-book reader (don't get me wrong, I would love to have one).

The point is, e-book readers are far less revolutionary than AR devices. Some would claim (me included) that AR devices are also more useful. Yet, it seems that no one is building a dedicated augmented reality hardware. If AR was really that hot and not a technology that is still a few years away, shouldn't we see at least a concept AR device? After all, if over a million Kindles were sold, the FlARe would sell like cupcakes.
Yes, the HMDs coming next year can be used for augmented reality, but it seems that they primerly target other markets.

Another "AR capable" device that targets other markets is, of course, the iPhone. Instead of complaining about the iPhone's lack of support of augmented reality, can't AR enthusiasts take action to their own hands? Isn't there another Noah Zerkin type of guy that instead of building an amazing glove, would build a rough hand held AR device to prove that augmented reality is not a lot of hype? Sergey Ten has written today a set of features he is looking for in the perfect AR device. If you are a resourceful guy or girl, start from there.

Consider this post as a call for action, or at least for comments. Is augmented reality going to be bigger in 2010 than e-books readers to merit its own dedicated device?

Weekly Linkfest

Still waiting for Junaio.

In the meantime the backlash against augmented reality (and the hype bubble surrounding it) has begun, with PSFK's "Is Augmented Reality The Next Second Life?", Fast Company's "Put Your Phone Down: Augmented Reality Is Overblown" and Techdirt's critique of gimmicky AR applications. Even Zugara has called on bloggers to cool down the hype. The best of its kind is BusinessWeek's "Augmented Reality: Getting Beyond the Hype" (you should read this article):
The industry could battle the hype and mislabeling by establishing standards the rest of us can understand. Otherwise, augmented reality will quickly meet the same fate as "green" products: Marketers will advertise even the slightest of augments as "augmented reality," leaving consumers confused and bewildered.
On the other hand there's Robert Rice's reply to that Fast Company article.
Well, I don't think that anyone will deny there's a lot of of hype around augmented reality at the moment, and I'm sure most believe that augmented reality has a great potential. It is my humble opinion that really exciting AR is still a few years away and in order to get there, we need to keep the hype at bay. As Rice writes, there's a fine line between evangelizing and hyping, and we should be careful not to cross it. Not that it's going to help, as many startups are pumping air into the bubble, hoping for an exit before it bursts.

Oh, and in other news:

This week's video is of an art performance named .txt , that features a tag cloud haunting a dancer. I'm not an art critique, so I can say anything about the performance itself, but technology wise, it's using YDreams' YVision for real time interaction between the dancer and words (via @YDreams):

.txt interactive digital performance - excerpt#1 from ponto txt on Vimeo.

Have a nice week!

ISMAR Linkfest - Second Edition

Since posting last week's linkfest, quite a few more articles and videos about ISMAR have appeared, check them out:
  • You knew it were coming, Tish Shute has a very extensive review of ISMAR on UgoTrade that has plenty of pictures of the cool demos and attendees.
  • Layar's CTO Dirk Groten shares his reflections on ISMAR, focusing on the presentations given by the various augmented reality browsers makers, each focusing on a specific niche, and exploring where browsers can go next.
  • Programmer Joe has an excellent summary of his adventures at ISMAR. Here's a point worth keeping in mind "I think that ... Layar pushes location based services forward in a huge way by providing access to multiple content providers from a single app. One day no one will remember that they started out as primarily an AR app."
  • Thomas Carpenter has his own summary with some great points, for example, "Don’t wait. Use the technology at hand to make the killer AR app."

And here's a video summary of Columbia university research into augmented reality menu systems, which produced the interesting result that users have better response times when menus are aligned with the camera coordinates than with the coordinates of the item they are augmenting. Gail Carmichael explains it in detail over here.

Droid Does Tease

If you were living in a cave for the last two weeks, Droid, Motorola's new Android device is heralded as the new iPhone killer. The campaign created to promote the coming the new phone has focused on what Droid does that the iPhone cannot do. Interestingly, Thomas Carpenter has noticed the following tease on the Droid's promotion site (click image for full size):

So, are they meaning Layar/Wikitude or something completely different? After all, we do have those on the iPhone, but the iPhone is famous for its lack of support for real video-feed-processing type of AR.
Time will tell ...

Weekly Linkfest

While reading this week's linkfest you may find some links are missing - don't worry, many ISMAR related links and videos will be posted later this week.

Although Halloween was yesterday, and I've dedicated a whole post to Halloween related AR, here's another cute scarry example found by Bruce Sterling. Actually is part of a campaign to promote eco-friendly chargers and power managemant systems, and you can try it yourself here.

Have a nice week!