Sunday, May 19, 2013

Augmented Reality is becoming a reality

Dear readers,

We've talked about benefits and risks, challenges and the business value of AR. 
Today, for this last and special edition of this blog, we would like to show you a recent and exciting development in the AR world - and explain to you what exactly it means for your business.

We've painted a future that is dominated by Augmented Reality - it's always on, everywhere, and everyone's in it. But today's AR applications, such as AR mobile apps (and even Google Glass), are limited; they still do not provide you with the level of interactivity promised by the AR gurus - look, but don't touch.

Look, but do not touch
This constitutes an immense challenge for AR - displays are becoming smaller and more comfortable to use (through devices such as Google Glass or, in the future, AR enabled contact lens). However, in order to interact with this augmented world, users have to resort to unnatural body motions (Saturday Night Live demonstrated this recently) or unreliable, socially awkward voice commands. As long as consumers face this barrier, AR will suffer from low adoption rates.

Enter meta: the new Augmented Reality interface.

Meta is the first consumer-level solution which aims to bridge this gap - bringing true interaction to the AR world. Instead of point-and-click or voice interfaces, naturally use your hands to manipulate the surrounding augmented reality. How is it done? Through a combination of a stereoscopic camera, smart software and see-through displays.

What meta offers is a cheap device which gives users the ability to experience true AR experiences, with hand-gesture driven interfaces. But more importantly - and this is where your business comes in - meta is offering a developer kit which allows you to develop your own exciting AR applications.
With an open SDK (Software Developer Kit), meta allows businesses to build their own software which uses meta's platform - easily using the hardware in their applications. The meta SDK does all the heavy lifting - transforming camera input into a depth map (a 3D representation of reality), identifying and processing hand gestures, and displaying pictures on screen. All businesses have to do is code their application using meta's inputs in order to provide consumers with a unique, customized experience.

Virtual design - by using your hands!
For instance, a furniture company can buy the Development Kit and easily construct an application which allows you to use your hands to place a virtual sofa or closet in your apartment - like you would do in real life. Using meta's glasses and SDK, consumers will get to virtually furnish their house, in a convenient and natural way, without ever leaving their house.

Meta offers us a glimpse to the future - in which AR is naturally everywhere. It's exciting news, which further proves what we've tried to convey in this blog:

AR is coming. 
You, and your business, should be prepared.

We hope you've enjoyed our blog - we've certainly enjoyed writing it, and having you as our readers.

The Augmentacious Team
Jann, Regina, In, Lior, Joonhong and Marianna 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Future of AR - A morning in a life of Regina, year 2020

07:00AM         I woke up this morning a little tired so I decided, before starting to prepare breakfast, to take a look at what’s going on “live” in Europe. Right now is the month of May and everything is light and animated already, people are walking around by a piazza, a child just dropped his gellato, and started crying. I feel like walking to him and hugging the tearful kid, as well as getting him a balloon that is sold by the bookstore corner. That’s when I remember I am at home, my daughter has to go to school and she has to really socialize; it has been a week since she has asked me if she can stay home schooling taking AR classes; she needs to play with her classmates, she needs fresh air… that girl is just sometimes very stubborn. 

08:00AM         It is time to have breakfast! First I checked the availability of the food by just looking at the refrigerator, since I can virtually see inside without opening the door. And then I checked the weekly diet program prepared for my family’s health; and I picked the dish to cook. I don't need to know about the recipe and cooking procedure because I can just follow the instruction on my vision. I opened and took the dairy product package out, and I could check the calories, other dietary factors and expiry date just by looking at the package.

09:00AM         Just as I finished taking my AR Pilates class, I see my husband telling me that he has a meeting in the dining room, so we should avoid the area for an hour so they all can freely join him. It’s fine with me, since I was actually planning to go out, yesterday by using my glasses I could get so much done at work, that I have time for myself this morning. Before getting out I decide to ‘live’ the news and this is what I find:

 “Google glass has become a commoditized device, Google shares have dropped 1.34% since “@ugmentedLife” has announced that they have signed an agreement to work together with Bascon Palmer in order to make the implants with a hundred percent success to be attached to the human eye. Competitors such as Microsoft and Apple, have not been able to cope with the accelerated pace that “@ugmentedLife” has been growing, although they are now focusing more on education and travel, but they have been struggling since the Latin American Union Parliament approved to charge taxes to tourism companies every time a person visits their countries through AR instead of paying physical visits. Actual Tourism, one out of fifteen people nowadays make real travels, so industries such as hotels have needed to shift their operations offering AR rooms, to make their clients have the real experience of staying the night in their augmented reality rooms.
Also privacy regulations have been harshly penalizing each time technology customers have tried to go beyond another person’s privacy or break codes of a Nation’s intelligence system. To issue augmented reality use permits has become more strict and groups such as “Pro Real Life” have been pushing government and society to make reforms that promote the Augmented Reality detachment, this strong ARPhobic NGO is being supported by powerful leaders who are willing to take AR industry down to make things go “back to reality”.”

10:00AM         As I stop ‘living’ the news, I am grateful that now I can unplug myself but I don’t feel as bad as the news paint AR. I think about my neighbor, how since her car accident she can’t move, but thanks to her AR glasses she can go to work and last week she was very excited telling me how she had been able to attend her son’s college graduation. Without AR her life wouldn’t be the same, also global warming effects have decreased due to less gas emissions caused by air and ground transportation.

Now I decide to listen to music so I stare at my Bose music player and order it to play music just by saying "Play the music, Tchaikovsky, violin concerto D major." and it plays... simple. I can control almost every electronic device and gadget by just watching and ordering with voice. Before, with just voice recognition I can't easily do that because there are so many devices around me. but with AR added, with the help of other technologies such as image/video recognition and machine to machine communication, you can select the machine and give orders deliberately.

Ending remark:

1. AR ultimately will affect nearly every phase of life. Even prematured Google glasses can be used in wide range of life: food, health, travel, entertainment, living, education, information delivery and communication, military, etc. Please check the link for top 10 prominent use of Google glasses:
2. It will evolve from a simple wearing device to more attachable, but together with other supporting technologies such as voice / image recognition, flexible display, RFID, bluetooth, and thin battery, it will be widely accepted to the public, such as contact lenses or other types of wearable devices. Some day in the long future, it will be eventually transplanted to the human body.

3. It will significantly improve the convenience for people because it reduces one layer of  many layers which lie in the information flow between human beings and machines. People no longer need to carry mobile phones, tablets, or PCs. They don't need to compare the digital images of those devices with the real view.  The multiple screens and any input devices will be replaced with single AR view and voice recognition technology.

4. At the end of  the day, It is not about just adding an additional layer into the real world. In other words, It is not just about visual augmentation, it is an augmentation of communication between you and other objects. (think about the example of the AH-64, apache helicopter) It enables visual tagging. You can identify an object and communicate with it. Think about all the interactions you make with machines now: Car, laptop, portable devices, watches, sign board, refrigerators, washing machines, lights... those machines require large amounts of manual interaction if you are to control them. But with such a fantastic AR device, you can simply do whatever you want by just watching it and commanding with your voice, just like when you are asking something to your friends. You don’t need a control panel or mouse anymore. Also it will drastically change the design of all the machines and gadgets. The design will return to retro style since you don’t need a digital  auxiliary parts anymore, which will also drive down the cost and price of those devices.

5. But we should be cautious of the side effects. Not to mention the boiling criticism about the privacy issues caused by Google glasses, we saw many times how simple video games influenced vulnerable  people to confuse virtual and real life and committed serious social problems. What will happen if it becomes really difficult to tell between the real-life and digital? Growing popularity on AR games such as “Ingress” by Google might cause a tremendous side effects such as addiction problems, because some gamers might take it too serious because of reality factors infused in the game.

6. In the end it will lead the human being to the era when people will regard those additional layer as natural and essential. Think about 20 years ago when internet was first introduced.  Was internet or network essential at that time?

7. Think about popular Japanese animation "Ghost in the shell" or movie "Matrix".  Those are the prophecy of doom and gloom, rather than bright future... There will be a time when you cannot really tell the real information from the digital ones, even though that may not come in our lifetime. Which means this technology can also be a horrible menace to human beings...

Thank you for reading, stay tuned with augmentacious!
Team Ogres.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Achilles' Heel(s) of Augmented Reality

Dearest Readers,

We find ourselves in yet another week of our exciting and thrilling coverage on the world of augmented reality (AR). Last week we presented some real world successes, that AR has indulged us with, from various industry perspectives. Our mission today is to build on those thoughts but point the binoculars in another direction. Todays we are setting sail to stumble across the Challenges that AR brings from a managerial perspective.

But before we go there, let's remind you of the greatness of AR with a neat little glimpse into the world of (Hyper)augmented reality: **** A MUST WATCH ***

With that beautiful vision in mind....let's dive into the challenges:

Failure to Standardize (Walled Gardens)

Unsurprisingly we have a browser war in the AR space. Current leaders such as Wikitude, Layar and Acrossair are all proprietary in nature. The only way to use these is to download the application to one’s mobile phone. While there are attempts to bridge this (SGARView), the norm is that standards are not shared and manufacturers don’t play or talk with each other. Essentially everyone is playing in their own walled garden, which in the long run is a loosing proposition.

Hardware limitations

Thanks to the inaccuracy of GPS and compass data, we might find that a pop up label to the waterbay theatre is shown to be over hovering over the Bay Bridge. Furthermore, while applications can point the direction of a desired location, they do not take infrastructure into account. So don’t be surprised to find yourself against the wall of a dead end, while the phone shows you the desired direction as straight on.

Unauthorized Advertising

Marketing Agencies are most likely drooling over the thought of being able to yet another way to get its advertising to be seen by consumers. Monetizing physical spaces by placing ads on them, however, poses the question of physical and intellectual property right infringement. AR does not carry any controls to keep a tap of this, which could open the door to bucket loads of lawsuits.

Physical Danger

If you think that mobile phone poses a distraction while driving a car, then just imagine what an augmented windshield with its associated surroundings that may be needed, may impose. Or even better, consider walking across a busy road while you are trying to accurately pinpoint some newly searched restaurant, while tweets are flying in left and right, and ads are flooding the little remain space that is left.   

Dork Factor

Last but not least, we can’t underestimate the dork factor. Yes, google glasses manages to shift the focus from a handheld device to a more normally accepted pair of glasses, but google glasses will not be the norm for another several years. With the phone as the primary source of usage, it is not common to mistaken someone trying to utlize the full AR functionality by swinging his phone in all directions, with a Star Trek Fanatic trying to get a few intergalactic readings in. Tying in with the physical danger, it plain simply looks stupid to have the walking speed reduced to baby steps, while starring at the screen, or stumbling across every little curb that one comes across.

With the dork factor we conclude this week and put a seal on the challenges for now. Truth be told, the list is significantly longer and would require several posts. While the AR revolution is growing and showing an inevitable usage benefit in today’s world, it is nevertheless important to consider the challenges, especially from a managerial point of view when AR becomes part of the marketing plan.

See you next week when we see what the future of AR holds.

Stay augmented.

Team Orges.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Is AR flirting with your industry too?

Loyal and beloved Readers,

We are extremely excited about this week’s post given that it comes in a special format. For the first time the 6 fine bloggers that have been feeding you the cutting edge AR news, week after week, have teamed up. With the intention of looking at the business value in industry specific use of augmented reality, we are pleased to be covering various sectors given the various professional backgrounds we have to offer. Without further ado, enjoy…


Augmented reality is a technology ready to explode and banks and insurance companies need to adopt it early. Financial institutions need to have a strong creative angle to apply AR concepts to customer-centric applications. Prototypes should be tested in select markets before a wider launch. How can AR help though?[1]
  •  Better cross-selling opportunities (A customer waiting at the airport for check in can point his phone at the nearest image of his bank to buy travel insurance)
  • Reduced customer support costs (Locating the closest ATM, determining working hours)
  • Personalized service (showing the nearest supplier to a partner)
  • Increased retention and potential lead generation (Highly effected way to get customer attention)

Examples include:
  • Standard Chartered – Location based coupons
  • Bankinter – ATM locator
  • Commonwealth Bank – Property search

As technology evolves, crimes also become much more sophisticated. Regular cop investigation, like back in the old days is not enough. Criminals move fast and they are very smart to leave no trace. AR can be a useful tool for the police force, since it can enable them to obtain facial recognition, object tracking, reengineer the scene of the crime or find or rebuild the geographical location of a criminal headquarter[2].  

Different governments, such as in the United Kingdom, for a long time now have implemented closed-circuit television systems (CCTV) with the only objective to watch the city for security reasons and crime prevention; nowadays these systems are complimented by AR technology[3]. This new approach to crime investigation brings a more accurate investigation to the government justice departments. 

Governments are always looking to buy technology from the private sector, so if a company develops a good AR device they can use this opportunity to sell its technology to serve justice and earn a nice income. In the U.S. for instance, the General Service Administration, contacts private companies with federal agencies to sell: “…equipment, supplies, telecommunications, and information technology from commercial businesses to government organizations and the military through acquisition solutions from its Federal Acquisition Service (FAS)[4]”.


AR poses some thorny questions in the field of intellectual property, copyright, and trademarks. Let’s take a recent example; someone posted a video of himself playing hockey while wearing Google Glass.

It looks pretty incredible, and Google Glass offers the potential of fans getting to see the game as it looks from the player’s point of view. As Glass improves, you can imagine the heads up display providing a wealth of additional information besides the first person point of view. This can be extended to many other fields and professions as well. A rollercoaster ride at Disneyland, a tour through a historic landmark, the possibilities are endless. The question then becomes, who owns this footage? Is it the property of the person who took it? Or the property of the owners of whatever venue is being filmed? Does Google, or any other future AR application vendors have any claim over this footage? Will it fall under a Creative Commons License, or will new types of license emerge, such as GPL and Apache did for software?


In the engineering world, augmented reality is both an opportunity for developing applications which enable the technology, and a useful tool which assists various engineering processes.
Software which enables augmented reality, which specializes in merging input from a live camera feed, along with orientation and location sensors, has been under continuous development in the last 20 years. The recent mass adoption of smartphones has further accelerated this new segment of software development, and today companies (such as Aurasma which was acquired by HP, and metaio) specialize in this field of software development. In addition, hardware products such as Google Glass and more specialized gear (such as Vusix's eyewear AR system) enable a better AR experience.
Surprisingly, augmented reality doesn't only provide new opportunities for engineers – it also assists in the engineering process itself. Products like the above mentioned eyewear actually assist engineers in with developing new products! For example, AR can help with visualizing 3D objects – an invaluable offer for mechanical and civil engineers, who need a way to quickly prototype their future creations (See to get a feel of the technology's capabilities). Needless to say, as we've mentioned in previous blog posts, the technology should be cautiously adapted in these fields – as precision is a must, and today's AR applications do not necessarily give the required performance.


AR adds value to businesses by enabling product engineers to experience a product's design and operability before its actual completion, minimising costs and reducing the amount of time spent on its development. The AR prototyping  approach brings together a combination of real mockups with  virtual projections or video mixing into a single environment - thus allowing engineers to more easily understand a prospective product or system and to identify potential problems, such as whether new components can be built into existing car models. 


Architects use computer programs such as the AutoCad to draw, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. These are very useful tools that help to create better and more precise designs and save costs in materials such as carton and paper, as a whole it gives versatility and practicality to firms. AR has entered into the architectural world. Architects now can use AR to obtain a better outcome in the elaboration of their projects. “Sara” is the first invented Augmented Reality Application, it was produced in the Netherlands Architecture Institute: it enables a person to see either a no longer existing building or a future building as if it was already finished constructing. Take a look at these videos that show how AR applications work for architecture: 

That wraps up this week's special edition. We hope you enjoyed it.

Stay tuned for next week's special: Challenges & Failures (real world examples. Management Perspectives)

Happy end of the week and stay Augmentacious!

Team Ogres

[1] Pranatharty, Codangudi “Augmented reality in Financial Services”
[2] Rampolla, Joseph, “AR and the challenges in the Civil and Criminal Justice System”,  February 6th, 2013, URL:

[3] When Computers See: Crime and Policing Implications, Futurecrimes, March 24th, 2010, URL:

[4] How to Sell to The Government: