Online Image Learning - The Next Big Leap in Mobile AR?

Mobile, image recognition based, augmented reality is very cool, as evident from the Popcode's demos we posted yesterday. However, creation of a model used by the mobile phone to recognize a new image still requires a desktop, hindering realtime creation and sharing of AR content.

Thanks to the work of researchers from the Korean Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and the Swiss EPFL, this needn't be the case anymore. In a paper titled "Point-and-Shoot for Ubiquitous Tagging on Mobile Phones" accepted to ISMAR 2010, they present a method to scan surfaces and create "recognition-models" by using your phone (no data is sent to a remote server).

You don't even need to take the perfect straight-on picture. As the video below shows, this means you can augment hard to reach surfaces. Best of all, you can share those models with your friends.

A little bit more detail over Wonwoo Lee's blog.

Popcode Pops into the AR Scene

The young British company, Extra Reality Ltd. (founded this June) has posted a couple of very impressive demos of its first product Popcode. With the goal of commercializing AR research done in the University of Cambridge, Popcode is a combination of marker based and marker less approaches. First the user needs to scan an easily identifiable code which causes her mobile to download a model used to register and augment a marker-less image. The registration seems quite robust:

The best thing is that Extra Reality provide an SDK to develop your own AR models, which can then be uploaded to their servers to be identified by clients worldwide. And it's free for non-commercial use.
I'm a bit worried about their marker code, though, as it seems to contain a very limited number of bits. If Popcode becomes hugely successful (and I really hope so), they'll have to come up with another scheme.
Sadly, it's only available for Android right now, so I can't really test it (hey, benevolent sponsors to be, this is a call for help!).
See more demos at Popcode's website.

Weekly Linkfest

On this edition of the weekly linkfest, face detection, bug squishing and Hollywood stars.

This week's video comes to us from Youtube user bittman25, or as his friends call him Danny. The clip is called "If Minority Report Was Our Twisted Reality". It's not a masterpiece, but has a nice twist at the end:

That's it, have a nice week!

Augmented Shadow: The best AR project you'll see today

Beautiful work by programmer and designer Joon Y. Moon using a projector hidden inside a table. Words can hardly do it justice, so just watch the video:

Augmented Shadow from Joon Y Moon on Vimeo.

Apparently Augmented Shadow stems from Moon's MFA thesis in Design & Technology for Parsons. He writes:

In this installation, the shadows exist both in a real and a virtual environment simultaneously. It thus brings augmented reality to the tabletop by way of a tangible interface. The shadow is an interface metaphor connecting the virtual world and users. Second, the unexpected user experience results from manipulating the users’ visual perceptions, expectations, and imagination to inspire re-perception and new understanding. Therefore, users can play with the shadows lying on the boundary between the real, virtual, and fantasy.

More details on the project's home page.

Gundam Robots in Augmented Reality

This post can be summarized by three magic terms:
  • Augmented Reality
  • Giant Robots
  • Yahoo Japan
Yes, it seems that the Japanese branch of Yahoo is much cooler than its American counter part. They have recently announced the coming release of a free iPhone application set to display a virual Zaku II mecha from the animated series Gundam (and sorry if I get this wrong, I've never seen it).
Interestingly enough the application is both image-recognition based and GPS/compass based. It will show the mecha when the iPhone camera will be directed at the (real) 18-meter tall Gundam statue in Shizuoka, Japan, and when the camera is pointed at a special marker.

For more details check out Anime News Network. Via Development Memo for Ourselves.

Weekly Linkfest

I hate August. It's too darn hot over here. Luckily there a few cool and refreshing augmented reality stories this week:

This week's video is of a year old, yet cool project by Karolina Sobecka with software development by Jim George. Sniff is a projected virtual dog that interacts with people passing it on the street. You can find lots more detail over Sobecka's site (where you can watch other fun projector based projects, like Chase). [via Augmentology]

Sniff from karolina sobecka on Vimeo.

Have a good week!

Augmented City: The Creator of Domestic Robocop Blows Your Mind Again

I know some of you already seen the following clip on other blogs, but when I contacted Keiichi Matsuda two weeks ago, he asked me to wait till the final version is ready. Luckily, the wait was shorter than expected.

Keiichi Matsuda, the creator of the now famous dystopian short clip Domestic Robocop, is at it again. In "Augmented City", a project that got him nominated for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Silver Medal award (and no, there's no golden one), Matsuda pushes forward his belief that modern cities are more than concrete, metal and glass occupying a physical space but also the digital information that is produced and consumed by the city's residents.

Or, in Matsuda's own words:
Augmented City explores the social and spatial implications of an AR-supported future. 'Users' of the city can browse through channels of the augmented city, creating aggregated customised environments. Identity is constructed and broadcast, while local records and coupons litter the streets. The augmented city is an architectural construct modulated by the user, a liquid city of stratified layers that perceptually exists in the space between the self and the built environment. This subjective space allows us to re-evaluate current trends, and examine our future occupation of the augmented city.

AR coupons may be littering the streets in Matsuda's vision, but it still looks amazing -

I crossed my eyes to see this clip, but if you go on and watch the clip on Youtube you'll be able to pick a red-cyan version and use your favorite 3d glasses. Want to learn more? Check out Keiichi Matsuda's thesis.

Weekly Linkfest

Celebrating Ben Affleck's 38th birthday, here's this week's linkfest:
Today's video is of a project named "SMSlingshot" by the guys at VR/Urban (also check the link for its predecessor, the Spreadgun). As you can guess by its name, it's a slingshot that throws short text messages at walls (aided by a powerful projector). The results are quite beautiful:

(via Beyond the Beyond)

That's it, hope you enjoyed it, and see you at Ben's party this evening.

Logged In

I don't much to say about the following video except that it's named "Logged In" and I wish it was in English. On the other hand, it shows that AR can be an excellent tool for learning new languages. And I know it doesn't meant to portray AR, but it sure looks like it:

logged in from josh schaub on Vimeo.

[via Swiss Miss]

Augmenting TV

Recently two concept designs illustrating the use of augmented reality in order to enhance the plain old tv set, had come to my attention.
The first is a prototype from KDDI lab, presented at the NAB 2010 conference a couple of months ago. I couldn't dig much information about it (here is some), though it seems to have the goal of personalizing advertisements in mind.

The other design is no where near reaching a prototype stage. Called the Meta-Mirror and imagined by Irish design studio Notion, it has less commercial agenda than the one by KDDI. It really strives to improve television. And with all the reality-tv shows out there, maybe augmented reality is the best way to do so. See more images of Meta-Mirror on Yanko Design.

Now Available on the App Store: SR Engine 2

My favorite independent augmented reality framework, Sein Kanemura's SR Engine, has just reached the important version 2.0 milestone, freely available on the (Japanese) App Store. Moreover, an SDK was released, allowing developers to create their own image recognition based applications. Capable of identifying up to 150 images, one should be able to use SR Engine to create augmented reality applications for small galleries and venues.

As always, I'm pretty impressed with the UI design, fitting such a "futuristic" application. Mr. Kanemura seems to not only have excellent programming skills but a good eye for design.

Weekly Linkfest - The Lady Gaga Edition

This linkfest has nothing to do with Lady Gaga, and everything to do with augmented reality news bites from the last week. I'm just checking if the mere inclusion of miss Gaga in the title will generate more hits.

This week's video is a promotion video for Sekai Camera. Tonchidot, the company behind this veteran AR browser recently got a $5M from Japan's telecom giant KDDI (though some claim that KDDI actually bought Tonchidot). And if that's not enough, Tonchidot announced the creation of social AR game. The future looks bright for those guys:

Have a great (and cool) week!

How Augmented Reality on the iPad Would Look Like

If the iPad had cameras, that is:

previously, AR fans disappointed from iPad specs.

Weekly Linkfest

Another bounty of delicious links awaits those who read the weekly linkfest:
This week's video is of Junaio Glue. Nothing special, just a nice demonstration of marker less tracking on a non flat surface. Or in other words, the coolest coffee mug I've seen yet:

Have a lovely week!