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Tag "augmented reality"

The digital 3rd dimension is a long standing topic in many disciplines and together with augmented reality technologies has had a tremendous boost. Most smart phone platforms these days offer tools and applications to integrate and use AR style packages. However in most cases it is still quite quirky and lagging which probably has got a lot to do with the physics of the device, especially the small screen.

Image by Greg Tran / The transformation of the existing with an overlaid digital vision. The beauty of emptiness and the secret lives of spaces after everybody else has left.

A number of visions have been produced besides the large scale cinema adaptations like ‘Minority Report’, where AR and real time 3d rendering play their magic. Three examples from architecture students were ‘Domestic Robocop‘, ‘Augmented City 3D‘ and ‘ArchiMaton‘.

Another more comprehensive examination of the topic now comes from a Master student Greg Tran at Harvard Graduate School of Design. The clip is basically his Master Thesis and examines as well as at the same time experiments the augmented 3D digital scapes potentially of interest for spatial manipulation and design.

Image by Greg Tran / Partly social networking partly 3D model development, physicality in its digital form.

In the clip Tran presents the current state of the art as well as the main problems with the confusions between 2D, 2,5D and 3D and beyond. He also focuses on the augmented reality aspects as well as materiality. In amazing scenes he shows how the building itself is transformed, extended or disolved.

Further more he also integrates social aspects and the social networking into the possibilities and with this links it back to his current practice as an architecture student. This makes it a very grounded and realistic vision for what a very ‘cool’ and visionary future of architecture could be.

The aspects of design and prettiness of course are a full feature of the technology. AR is not only a new tool with useful capabilities it is also dam well pretty. To some extend this prettiness is currently blurring the view on most applications of AR tom actually make them useful, but with such grounded and pragmatic visions such as Tan offers the field could make a move forward.

Find the full text script of the storyboard on scribd HERE.

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Visions and ideas are ephemeral and can be occasionally tightly connected to a location. A specific spot that triggers a vision, something connecting a thought and a place. This trigger very often carries emotions and is loaded with specific feelings that can bring a physical reaction, for example goos bumps in a ghostly sort of way.

Making this phenomena a working tool the environment can become once more a big playground with rather detailed and complex options and possibilities. This is interesting especially in an architecture context or even on a n urban level with, where space can be the media augmented by visions.

Image taken from mob-ility / A screen shot of the envisioned app grabbing the contextual information for inserting the vision.

Architecture student Sahar Fikouhi from the Bartlett has developed a augmented reality concept based around this notion of spatial narrative for the development of architecture visions. The idea is to use the AR layer to detect the context specification and develop directly in 3D a fitting structure. The Achi-Maton tool is not fully developed app, but a great sketch in it self creating this sense of goose bumps.

Sahar explains “It allows for real-time scanning and sketch design of architectural structures. The application consists of 4 main functions, including site analysis, programme analysis, design library and material library”.

Image taken from mob-ility / A series of screen shots documenting the development steps.

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Graffiti artist Marc C. Woehr and Interaction Designer Achim Kern have collaborated on this project to augment graffiti using light. The installation with the title ‘The City Never Sleeps‘ features a Woehr drawing and uses projection to light paint into it.

It is quite amazing how the light has the power to completely change the scene. It is possible to turn the whole thing inside out by lighting up the facades of the buildings and taking them out of the darkness or especially when the sky behind the buildings becomes the focus of the activity.

the city never sleeps
Image taken from Achim Kern / Impression form the exhibition where ‘The City Never Sleeps’ was shown. The artist were not atisfied with the exhibition pace, not dark enough, so they prduced a second visual shich can be seen HERE.

Graffiti feature everywhere in the urban scene and are already quite a lively part of the street scape, since they apear and disappear on a short term basis. Adding the temporality of the lighting this could grow into a fully blown interactive urban landscape using augmented reality or tagging technologies. Maybe even in combination as demonstrated by the Tales of Things team at the last CASA Seminar. Martin de Voot demonstrated how to use QR tags as AR tags.

With technology becoming available, especially for examples mobile projectors this could be a fantastic feature for the urban context. Products are available for examples from Microvision.

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What if the city would be interactive in the sense of the emerging augmented reality technology? Not that the city is not interactive, but if one would be able to controle many aspects of the environment constantly and from every location? Not that we are not in controle of our lives, but just that there is more that we are aware of.
This time its in HD and 3D – put your glases on!


This is a great clip and goes in line with the previous one Keiichi Matsuda produced at the Bartlett School of Architecture for his thesis.
I very much like the sequence with all the adds and stuff crowding the footpath and swirling away like dry leaves. In the intro scene I guess the possibilities are portrait best. One of the protagonists is waking up, starting the day, changing some options and as the camera zooms out we see he is already in this cafe place. Reminds me very much of those zoom/re-zoom books.

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Augmented reality application have developed rapidly over the last year and have reached a number of platforms by now. Also there are now multiple providers to run AR services. This is a dramatic change from the early days were Layar was the only open plattform. Same thing with location based services. Google Latitude and Brightkite have been overtaken in the meantime by Foursquare and Gowalla as the leading applications. Actually one dosen’t even think of them as applications but communities.
Anyway to push their position Google now tries a new approach, integrating image recognition in to the AR environment. This could potentially improve the service in terms of accuracy. So far the technology relied on the location from the aGPS and the direction via the compass. However this is within a range of a couple of meters up to ten twenty meters. So in this sense you could have actually already walked past the trendy Sushi place you are desperately trying to find.

Image taken from AddSite / Scanning a contact card.

However, now with Google Goggles (its sounds a bit like Googoo Goggles, the Dr Seuss character) your mobile client will detect the place via its features, scanned from the camera image. It still links back to a massive database containing the background information but the identifiers were delivered by the camera. In this sense a true visual search.
It is still in beta and overall the technology is still in the beginnings. Unfortunately it runs on Androids only. Currently it can scan contact cards and translate them into a digital contact on your phone, recognise art work (I would like to see it recognise this Giacometti sculpture?), recognise landmarks (incase you are usure whether or not this is the Eiffel Tower you are looking at), detect logos (this could be helpful with the sushi place) or also book covers and presumably posters like theater plays or movies.
Search and related services are the core business of Google and this is the sort of innovation they are looking for. Already the term visual search makes a lasting impression, and linkes to all sorts of relations.
It sounds like a great application of technology and it will probably work very well at some point. However on the other hand it does start to rais the question of how dependent on the mobile client do you want to be? Do you really want to look at the world through the ridiculous small screen of your touch screen? Maybe to fins the sushi place?

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Walking the city in your shoe is one thing, but walking the internet in your shoe is quite another. So far a few key strokes and mainly the one finger to scroll and click the mouse were the tools you used to navigate the internet. This is so 2000 and has completely changed now. Adidas shows how you can navigate with your sneakers!
They have launched anew edition, the AR GAME PACK SNEAKERS and it is integrated with a new platform Adidas Neighbourhood.
The whole thing is based on AR augmented reality technology and the software will read the tag printed on the tongue of the shoe.

Image taken from Adidas / Print file to manufacture your own tag for a game teaser. Pint and fold to use as a mokup in case you havent bought the shoe yet.

So of you go running trough the Adidas Neighbourhood and chatting up the girls on the street cornet, playing the streets in the hood and hang out with the buddies. Down the steps out the door, the city is all yours!
Dream on and if you like this idea don’t read any further. Well, actually it si not quite like this. You wil find yourself squat in ten centimeter of your screen in your half dark empty room trying to line up the tag with the webcam and SHOOT star ship troopers!
Oh my goodness how boring is that. Its just another one person shooter. Instead of the mouse, the joystick you wiggle your shoe – with your hands. I have to confess I never was a big fan of one person shooters. Played them occasionally, but haven’t for a long time. And the combination of shooting and sneakers is no really not the first one I construct, but here we are.
So much exiting stuff coud be done, at least some GTA style of interaction?
Never mind, this is great and I love it anyway. Someone will come up with a better scenarion. The combination of commercial goods and virtual content has so much potential for exciting application that this is definitely a great first move. The internet of things comes to your feet. This is definitely what we are going to see a lot in the coming month.
There was already quite a some stuff last year, with BMW’s augmented comercial for the new Z4 for example or the Tales of Things project, Lego Digital Box and Adidas.
Both LEGO and Adidas are actually based on the metaio platform: “As a pioneer in the area of augmented reality (AR) technology, metaio develops software products for visual interactive solutions seamlessly combining real and virtual elements. Based on the software platform Unifeye, 3D-animations can be integrated seamlessly into the real-user`s environment.” They have also developed the junaio software an AR platform for mobile devices with a developer API, very similar to layar.
So it is a war out there and a lot of companies are battling for a few users in a emerging field. In this sense first person shooter is not so much out of place.

Image taken from hypebeat / the guys out in the hood, this is street life and this wold be what we want to see. The geolocation game Urban Defender in this sense was a lot more inspiring, but the two seem very much related and one almost want to merge them. It just needs a bit more action than just shooting.

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A rather disturbing clip of a possible near future. Might be unlikely, but talking about it is going on rather for a while now. It has become possible to actually do exactly what is visualised in this imaginary representation. By using available free digital tools such as layar everyone with access to the internet and consumer hardware in the form of a smart phone and a computer could put this together. probably not as visually impressive as Keiichi Matsuda manages in this clip produced for is master of architecture. This is a truly astonishing visual with a lot of love for good graphics and good design. I love it.

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Layar featured on the blog before and now I have been playing around with the augmented reality platform to use for the visualisation of the urbanDiary data. I have now created an UrbanDiary layer show track points that are already in the database.
For now this is only a test with and it is not yet available as a public layer. The POI’s it displays are all GPS track points collected by participants of the UrbanDiary project. So each dot means someone passed by here earlier.
I am however not quite convinced with the layar platform visually, as I have expressed in previous post. As a first test to visualise the collected data it serves very well. I am actually thinking about it as an extension to the time-space aquarium.
However this is of course only a first stab at it and a lot of information is not yet included. I tried to have a go at the aspect of time. Each point, after it has properly loaded, displays a visual time indication on the bottom right as a waxing or waning crescent. This gives an idea of the time this particular point was recorded. I choose to do this as for now layar does not allow for individual icons. There is only a set of three icons currently available.

Image by urbanTick for UrbanDiary – waxing and waining crescent indicating the time of the day.

And here is the video to see it in action.

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Augmented Reality (AR) is the buzz word of the year. At least it is in connection with the latest mobile gadgets. Everything these days is AR, even though most apps are not strictly AR. What is on the market at the moment is simply information overlaid on the camera viewfinder screen. There is no image recognition involved yet.
All it is information pulled from a server based on the location and displayed according to the orientation of the device. The device makes use of positioning system, either GPS or assisted through mobile phone antennas or wire less hotspot and it uses the ‘compass’ to define the devices orientation.
So what are currently the best applications available for the iPhone? As hinted in the first line, currently every service starts offering a AR visualisation. For example Brightkite, we featured on the blog HERE, was one of the first to make use of the Layar platform, but also others like urbanSpoon jumped on the train. Very early on applications for Wiki content were developed.

The first one to await Apples approval to go on the itunes store was Acrossair’s nearest tube. It was announce in August 2009, but then delayed as they had to wait for the iPhone 3.1 software update and was finally released in mid September 2009.
And I have to say for me this is still one of the best apps. It is the cleanest app you can probably find, Acrossair as a logo or brand can nowhere be found and it is all about the information. No clutter and no distraction, this is simply five star – download “>HERE, costs £1.19.

Image by urbanTick – iPhone screenshot Nearest Tube by Acrossair

Wikitude World Browser is the app for the Wikipedia content. It is similarly clean as the Nearest Tube app, but lakes the clarity by the POI’s (point of interests icons). They are tiny and all exactly the same. Four stars – the app is free, download HERE.

Image by urbanTick – iPhone screenshot Wikitude

iLiving by metaio, looks like a interesting app. I have not yet tried it, but it seems as if this one almost allows for the most interactive and truly AR joy. You can actually place furniture in the viewfinder. Through this you can find out if the new sofa fits with the curtains your mother in law has brought round yesterday night as a gift. It looks promising in terms of the narrative, but the 3D elements are horrible… However this could be an other five star – download HERE, costs £1.79.

Image by metaio – screenshots before and after as well as the object library

Peak.Ar by Salzburg Research is the outdoor and mountain specialist application. It give you the name and the height of the mountain and hills around you. Simple but nice as an app. It is free, but the design could be a bit sleeker. Four stars – download HERE for free.


Images by urbanTick – screenshot Peak.ar, you can see I live somewhere around Primrose Hill

AugMeasure by2020, is a AR app that helps you measure something when you don’t have a meter handy. As useful as the iHandy Level is suppose but why not. An app that actually has some hands on approach to it… it is free, four stars – download HERE for free.

Images by urbanTick – screenshot AugMeasure

TweetThru is a great twitter app that makes use of the AR API of the iPhone. However, it is not strictly AR in the sense of the rest of the application as it does actually not overlay information, but simply the text you type. Why would you want this, you might ask. Well it is really handy to see where you are going, if you are one of these people like me, constantly typing on the iPhone while walking on the street. Again five stars – download HERE for free.

Image by urbanTick – iPhone screenshot TweetThru

Even though it is not AR it is as much AR as the rest of the apps. This highlight the fact that actually it is all a bit of hype with little content. There is a whole range of games emerging too. But it is early days and you only get ridiculous stuff like first person shooter to gun down the person you see in the viewfinder (I am certain the developer has never thought of school shootings and stuff) or you can throw tomatoes, eggs or even spit at objects and people you can see through the camera lens.
The technology is great and it is impressive the first time you see it, but so far I haven’t found it useful. We are all still waiting for this cracking application to come along…
For a first run, you can have a go your self at information service using AR. There are a number of services and platforms emerging. Layar is one of them featured on the blog earlier HERE. But also Wikitude is offering or the Junaio platform.

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It is here, finally for the iPhone. Layar is available and with it a whole series of information packages. There is nothing new on it, but the way it is visualised is new. You get familiar stuff like Wikipedia, Open Street Map, ArchINFORM, Twitter, Panoramio, flickr, Brightkite plus a lot more. There is a high chance that the library will grow dramatically in the next few months. Currently there are a lot of services from Japan as layers available, as well as from the Netherlands. An up to date list of Layar layers can be found HERE.
Layar is basically the browser that visualises the data provided by individual companies offering a specific service. Download the app for your iPhone here.
So lets have a look at how it looks and feels, by testing some services around CASA.

Image by urbanTick – Screenshots, Depending on the angel, Layar adjusts the horizon line of the overlaid plane that serves as a reference for the displayed data.

The reference information is drawn from the GPS / Wi-Fi / Network to establish the current location. The compass built in to the iPhone give the direction of the phone. Layar provides a grid plane to locate the information and presumably give a better sense of depth. The icons used to represent the information are rather simple, a circle, a square, … The interaction with these objects is limited to select them. It turns out that this is a difficult task at times. One because it is a rather small area of the screen that is available for the actual AR display (the rest is cluttered with backup information) and two because the icons are overlapping one another and are obviously displayed even smaller if they are further away from the present location. However there is a automatic selection that works fine if there are only one or two items on the screen and by moving the iPhone you can alter between them, but as soon as you get more items the sensitivity of the compass can not keep up with the millimeter differences between the items.

Image by urbanTick – Screenshots, Brightkite layer on Layar

The top bar holds a setting button that contains a number of options related to the service. For example the range/distance within results are displayed can be adjusted. The second bar on the top allows to switch between a map, a list and the AR mode, here called reality, WOW! Additional information for each selected item is displayed in the box below. It also provides a link to the displayed contend at its original location on the web. Meaning, Layar is really just a window to search for stuff. In this respect it could increasingly compete with Google and this raises the question why Google has not yet developed their own service or when they will buy Layar?
Well at this point is still a very crude application with a rather cluttered and ugly interface, crappy icons and not very intuitive handling. But you know it is a first stab at a commercial platform to display location based information projected onto reality though the lens of a camera and this is exciting enough.
How beautiful and simple this could look like was shown by acrossair, it was reviewed in an earlier post HERE.

Image by urbanTick – Screenshots, London Tube, not as nice as Nearest Tube, but with additional information that it links to.

Image by urbanTick – Screenshots, Panoramio as the Layar layer, link page and panorama on the web.

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