International Symposium on Augmented and Extended Reality in Orlando, Florida.3D virtual pets to hold in your hand and interact with, software that turns drawn objects into movable 3D objects subject to the laws of physics and a Microsoft hiring-coup. Those are the stories behind the hottest videos from the eye and brain-candy world of Augmented Reality, as seen at last week's
Who says the web is all about pages that you view in a browser? Check out these three visions of a fast-approaching future where data is drawn from and overlaid on top of the real world around us.
Kid Stuff: Eye Pet
The Eye Pet is a virtual critter that you can interact with through a webcam on your computer. Check out this demo where the Sony Computer Entertainment Europe pets the animal and spins through a 3D menu of toys to play use in playing with it. It's pretty awesome. The Eye Pet is expected to be released for the PS3 game system as early as next month.
That looks like a lot of fun for kids (who knows about the psychological impact) but imagine other interactive 3D objects with menus of options like this. Occupational training possibilities? Sports practice? There seems to be a lot of possibilities.
Thanks to Canadian PhD student Gail Carmichael for shooting that video.
The New AR Paradigm: AR Sketch
We wrote about this international project last week and the team behind it went on to win the Best Student Paper award at the ISMAR conference.
AR Sketch takes drawn images, processes live video capture of the drawings and turns them into 3D image overlays. Then it subjects them to a physics simulation. The team behind it just happened to hack into the private API for live video processing on the iPhone and make it available to developers around the world, too.
Popular AR apps like Yelp or Layar on mobile phones don't actually know what they are looking at, they just know where you are and which direction you're facing. Thus they can tell you what they believe you're looking at. Marker-based AR apps know only to look for one thing - a printed marker with a pattern on it that triggers display of an overlay. Sketch AR needs neither guesses nor markers - it processes and augments what you're actually looking at.
It's nuts. As Ori Inbar wrote about the Sketch AR team in an overview of ISMAR, "Their work is revolutionizing the AR world by avoiding the need to print markers - or any images whatsoever."
Here Comes Microsoft AR!
Oxford's Georg Klein, whom Inbar calls "the smartest Computer Vision guy on the block," just joined Microsoft this month, conference-goers learned. Is Microsoft going to make a major Augmented Reality play? They'd be fools not to explore the possibility. They don't want to be left out in the cold if AR does become the next version of the web. Here's what their new man's been working on.
These exciting examples of Augmented Reality have little to do with mobile location awareness, a nice reminder that there's a whole lot more to the field. Mobile AR browsers are the best known commercial services so far, but academic research on other forms of AR has been going on for years.
Ready to browse and interact with data on top of the physical world, through webcams, mobile phones and increasingly svelte AR glasses? A future when such experiences are mainstream may be fast approaching.