The Box and Beyond

Today I will give a presentation on the future of mobile at “De Haagse School“.
I will present for a group of Human Technology students.

I tried to look beyond the obvious role of context. I ended up in a world where media and life are delivering ONE integrated experience.

As you see chapter 3 is still not finished.. Atleast that is how it feels for me.. What should be added?

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Great Presentation about Contexetual Services

It explains the difference between PC internet and mobile internet very well and helps you understand how contextual services will be beneficial for individuals and cooperation’s. Great to see others get on this “physical world interfacing” & “contextual services” bandwagon and explain it so well. We’re defining a whole new business category!

Love the design of the presentation too, you glide on through the 128 slides with ease, get the message and only slightly miss the voice over.

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The Augmented Reality Hype Cycle

Update: This article now also in Dutch. And in Catalan.

This year Augmented Reality (AR) is out of the box. It has escaped from the universities and is spreading like wild fire. It’s being written about more and more, especially by marketing people, who go for hypes first. This last month I’ve personally heard about at least 4 advertising agencies working on it. On Twitter its mentioned at least 5 times an hour. What types of Augmented Reality are there and where do we stand?

To frame this and differentiate the levels of AR I made the Augmented Reality Hype Cycle. It is inspired by Robert Rice’s article “Is it too early for Augmented Reality?” and expands on the AR Levels which he describes in “Augmented Vision and the Decade of Ubiquity “. The Gartner Hype Cycle is a great method to plot new technologies and applications.

In the Hype Cycle I focus on technology that is already out there and which application is aimed at the individual. Not Industrial. Also I focus on mobile when ever possible.

There are 4 Levels of AR (the larger grey titles):

  • Level 0 - Physical World Hyper Linking
  • Level 1 - Marker Based AR
  • Level 2 - Markerless AR
  • Level 3 - Augmented Vision

LEVEL 0 - Physical World Hyper Linking

This is the oldest form and an addition to Rices’s 3 initial Levels of AR. It is a way to link the physical world to the virtual world. It starts with the 1D (UPC) bar code that’s on every product you have. It’s the identifier as registered in the database. The same can be said for 2D codes of which QR-codes are best known. Last part of this group is 2D image recognition. Most used mobile application is the recognition of a company logo or film poster which will then redirect you to a site for more information.

Being the oldest, this form of AR is the most developed. Its also the simplest and doesn’t involve real time rendering and display of graphics. Some may not even call it AR. General adoption of this technology will happen within a year. Most Nokia phones are already outfitted with the software for 1D and 2D bar code scanning. 2D scanning is stuck on the slope of enlightenment and will be surpassed by 2D image recognition in the coming year.

Examples of 1D & 2D Barcodes:

Examples 2D Image Recognition

LEVEL 1 - Marker Based AR

This is where the hype is now. Augmented reality based on markers. Its the first step for real AR because it enables real time processing of ‘reality’ through the recognition of markers and subsequently real time rendering and display of graphics on top of this reality.

The first type is the 2D Marker AR which is PC and web cam based. Almost all applications work use an Internet connection to retrieve more information. The marker is the black and white square image you print out and hold in front of your web cam to see a 3D animation.

This is what most people are doing. There are also free toolkits to develop applications and now also Flash based which explains a lot of the popularity.

Next step up is 2D Marker AR with a mobile device. This is tricky-er because it involves a lot or real time processing and a very capable phone. For instance it is not possible on the iPhone because the OS does not allow for real time video processing. You also can’t record video with it as yet. It is possible with a hacked iPhone though.

2D Marker AR is most seen on Windows Mobile devices surprisingly enough. Coolest is 3D recognition, where the mobile recognizes a chair or another physical object and goes on to augmented it.

Level 1 - Marker Based AR is moving from the technology trigger to just before the actual peak of inflated expectations. For now it will not go away and in the coming year PC and Mobile 2D marker based AR will be the IN thing. Where the mobile version will be lagging in comparison to the PC based version due to the lack of computing power and other mobile issues. When the novelty is worn off the actual application value will prove to be thin. Its no real money maker except for marketing and PR applications. On the mobile it will last a bit longer when good games come out. The most promising, 3D recognition, is in the tail of Level 1 - Marker Based AR and is hardly a reality yet.

Examples of 2D Marker AR - PC & Web cam based:

Examples of 2D Marker AR - Mobile:

Examples 3D Object Recognition - Mobile:

LEVEL 2 - Markerless AR

Augmented Reality without markers is powerful. Pull out your mobile phone and experience an augmented reality. It can be that simple. Only G1 (the Android - Google phone from T-mobile) owners had the opportunity to experience this with Wikitude from Mobilizy and later ING Wegwijzer. Its based on GPS data and the compass. Because the phone knows where it is (the GPS) and in what direction you are looking (the compass) it can augment reality on the screen correctly.

Level 2 - Markerless AR is halfway the technology trigger and will be nearing the peak of inflated expectations in a year when more phones have the combination of GPS and compass. The Nokia N97 which will be out in the summer will have a compass and will trigger the first non Android Markerless AR applications. It is unknown if the new iPhone will have this capability. It would be HUGH if it did…

Examples of GPS - Compass based AR:

LEVEL 3 - Augmented Vision

This does not exist yet. As Rice says:

“We must break away from the monitor and display to lightweight transparent wearable displays (in an eyeglasses form factor). Once AR becomes AV, it is immersive. The whole experience immediately changes into something more relevant, contextual, and personal. This is radical and changes everything. As I have said before, this will be the next evolution in media. Print, Radio, Television, Internet, Augmented Reality (well, Vision). L3 must also be mobile massively multi-user, persistent, shared, dynamic, and ubiquitous.”

It will be more then 3 years before anything remotely capable will be available. Until then we will have to make do with research news like that of the University of Washington where they are working on displaying pixels in contact lenses .

In Conclusion

To me it’s daunting to see how far there is to go. Yet knowing where we are now, what is coming and how to frame it enables realistic planning and choices. I hope it helps you. I’ll be enjoying the ride and developing some cool AR initiatives with my SPRX partners.

Thanks to all AR bloggers and twitterers who directly and indirectly helped me put this together. Looking forward to see your feedback and more examples in the comments.

- April 2009

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The Future of Holography: a touching story

World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.

A strange man builds a world using holographic tools for the woman he loves.

This award winning short was created by filmmaker Bruce Branit, widely known as the co-creator of ‘405′. World Builder was shot in a single day followed by about 2 years of post production. Branit is the owner of Branit VFX based in Kansas City.

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Written by Raimo in: Vision | Tags: , , ,

LIFT09 Conference Video: David Rose and Connected Pillboxes

David Rose, CEO of Vitality, is a product designer, technology visionary, and social entrepreneur. He has a great story and vision about how you can get information and interactivity out of your screen and into your umbrella, your pill box or bus stop.

The Web of Things Blogs has a summation:

by Dominique Guinard

Great pleasure to be able to attend another talk from David Rose from Ambient Devices and Vitality Inc.

Instead of a pure transcription I’ll try to sum up some aspects of the talk. Note that does not entirely reflect what Dave meant but rather my interpretation
of the talk. Dave began by talking about clairvoyance and magics. He explained how they materialized these chimers into the well-known Orb which changes its color according to a trend. Dave then explained how ambient devices where between push and pull technologies, how they should be peripherial and seamless with the environment(s).

He explained how facinated he was by the idea of dashboards a information concentrators. He especially focused on how to design them in an ambient manner so that they do not turn into pizza-style-portals with too much information to be really integrated to the environment. In the field of weather forcast he presented a prototype he designed recently. This small black screen provides very general information and is very ambient when people are far away. As people come closer it displays more accurate information and increases the info bandwidth and concentration on the screen.


The next part of the talk was about life-cycles of nature and the way to map it as an output interface for ambient devices. As an example gardening and the growing of fruits and vegetables could be mapped to something like the Orb. As apples grow they change their colors (green to yellow to reddish…) the same pattern can be applied to ambient devices.

He then talked about monitoring the energy consumption, an especially interesting topic to us our Energie Visible project develops. He pointed at the fact that energy metering is already in place just not at the right place and not using the right human-computer interface. It is in our cellars when it should be informing us in our living room. In this field he introduced the off-the-shelves products of Ambient Devices Inc.

He went on talking about one of the products of Vitality Inc. The Glowcap is the world’s first Internet connected pill cap! It may sound silly but it actually has a number of uses. It can be used to coordinate re-fills for instance or to check whether you really take your medications. It reminds me of a paper we wrote a while ago about RFDiyin the hospital. But Glowcaps go far beyond and I think they encapsulate the evolution of the Internet of Things. From being able to identify things to being able to enhance and literally connect things..

The last project he talked about was the Ambient umbrella, that knows when it’s gonna rain. While it has not real use it makes a point: take the information away from your browser, embed the Internet into every-day objects.

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Written by Maarten in: Sense, Video, Vision | Tags: , , ,

Marc Andreessen Video Interview: He knows his Stuff

This is a hour long video where Marc Andreessen gives his take on everything concerning IT, Mobile, cloud computing, social networks and more. He has a great view of what makes the valley and other industries tick and who is doing well and why. He doesn’t seems to up to speed on mobile yet but that will come.

Marc wrote the original code for Mosaic which ended up in Internet Explorer and also started Netscape which now turned into Firefox. He can take credit for both.. In 1999 he started Loudcloud (rebranded into Opsware) which was one of the first cloud computing enterprises. He is also founder of Ning and is on the board of Facebook and ebay among others. And he is an early investor in Twitter and Qik (hmmm maybe he does get Mobile just didnt say in the interview?). He now also started his own VC fund.

Here is the transcript.

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Raimo’s talk at the MWG Congress

Last week I gave a presentation at the MWG Congress in The Netherlands. The topic of the event was Experimentation. Personally I don’t believe in experimentation. In this incredible dynamic market, where there is no status quo anymore, one needs to have clear intentions.. During my presentation I used the metaphor of trying to lift one’s leg.. I asked the audience to try to lift their left leg.. Everybody reacted by lifting there leg.. I explained that they raised there leg and did not TRY to raise their leg.

Trying is nothing. You either do or you don’t!

Below you see the presentation and an interview(in dutch) by Ronnie Overgoor touching the topics of the presentation.

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Don’t take your Blackberry or your Iphone into the bedroom

Our friend Jim Stolze was at TED this year in Long Beach. Not only to attend but also to present the results of his Virtual Happiness Research. Here is the presentation and transcript of his 6 minute talk (yes, short and quick!). And 5 tips to make you happier.


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Written by Maarten in: Presentations, Trends, Vision | Tags: , , , ,

The Hyperlink is a Flawed Model for Physical Interaction

Thats what Timo Arnall says in this presentation about persuasive computing. Go thru the presentation and read the notes. It makes you think.

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Written by Maarten in: Presentations, Urban Play, Vision, augmented reality |

Two AR Commercials Aired During the Superbowl

Robert Rice says that this year AR is going mainstream. The exposure of AR that is. During the Super Bowl two commercials aired with Augmented Reality in it:

Coca Cola


And since where showing these… why not this old one too (from HP). It fits.

The point Rice is making in his post is that all this exposure will make people expect to much because its fake and the real state of AR is this:

At SPRX we don’t know too much about holding back. Yet too much exposure and over expectancy is not a good thing. So how to remedy that? By sharing the actual state of AR more regularly. Simple as that. Its about managing expectations AND sharing a dream. That’s what we’ll do. We sold our first AR project and are ready for the next one.

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Written by Maarten in: Vision, augmented reality | Tags: , , , ,

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