Lego's Augmented Reality

Well, everyone has already written about it (where you can find lots of pictures). Lego collaborated with Metaio in order to augment some of its packages in such a way that when looked through a camera, the packages will display the completed Lego model in 3d.
From the press release:
The DIGITAL BOX from the LEGO Group comes to the rescue. From November, children great and small can hold special LEGO boxes – containing a hydraulic digger or police station, for example – up to an interactive kiosk and watch a 3D animation of the product inside the box – superimposed on the box. All of this is made possible by metaio’s software, which fuses virtual 3D animations into a live video of the actual product packaging. As a result, buyers can hold both the box and the finished product in their hands. Construction sets are a great match for this technology. Here, metaio’s software not only creates a fascinating technical experience, but gives retailers a unique selling pitch while helping to inform interested buyers. After all, customers get to see exactly how much fun there is inside! The idea has not been termed “smart packaging” for nothing.

This is another sign that augmented reality is creeping its way to the mainstream. Moreover, it's a great opportunity to officially announce about this blog's little competition between the two AR power houses. Starting from 1/1/09 the current score is Metaio: 1, Total Immersion: 0.

Invisible Tags

picture by RobotSkirts'

Tags (also known as markers) are the easiest way to augment the real world. Usually in the form of black and white squares, tags serve as an easily identified (from a computer vision point of view) visual queue. No wonder this method is so popular among amateurs and students. However, tags are ugly. Augmented reality cannot really hit mainstream if it keeps on using the computer-friendly but eye-sore inducing tags.
Thus, a lot of research was done on how we can make the tags less obtrusive or even on to get rid of them completely. Here's a collection of some of the methods developed by those smart Graz students:

Alas, having unobtrusive tags is computationally more expensive - it takes longer, and on mobile devices may drain your battery quicker. Is there a better option? How about tags that are clearly visible to the computer but nearly invisible to human eyes? Here's a fun experiment - take your camera phone and look through its camera while pressing a TV remote. You should then be able to see its IR signal - that is, your phone (or rather most camera phones) is able to see infra red light. On the other end of the spectrum (that is, the visible spectrum) is ultra violet. Here's a fluff story about a boy who made an invisible sticker (for humans) warning birds (apparently birds can see UV light) of birds. Can we adapt the same technology for augmented reality?

Low Tech Augmented Reality

The following video documents an art project by Aram Bartholl, exploring privacy issues in the real world. Or as the Bartholl's site puts it:

The WoW project is a workshop and intervention in public space that uses computer play-worlds as a means of calling attention to the changing ways people deal with privacy and identity in the public sphere.

WoW from aram bartholl on Vimeo.

Although low tech, this gives us a short glimpse at the augmented future we are facing. With augmented reality we may identify strangers in the street, and coupled with social networks, we would be able to know our social distance from them. For example, while waiting for the subway, you could strike a conversation with a friend of a friend, identified by your AR device.

Web 3.0 is what happens you're busy making other plans

Hey there!
Most chances are that no human would read this post. That is the fate of an introductory post in yet another blog on the net. Thus, forgive me for keeping this introduction short.

This blog is about Augmented Reality (AR). It is my firm belief that AR will be the next web revolution (the so called Web 3.0, and forget about that semantic web nonsense). In the next few years, stronger devices and better algorithms will enable us to merge the real world with cyberspace. Using your mobile phone (at first) or head up display (later on) every real object will be augmented and achieve a web presence. Tourism, shopping, advertisement, entertainment and education are only a few areas that will never be the same.

This blog mission is to document this revolution as it happens. We welcome you, and welcome our augmented future.