h1

WITH $45 MILLION IN FUNDING, AUGMENTED REALITY PLATFORM BLIPPAR IS RETHINKING SEARCH

March 13, 2015

screenshot-2015-03-06-14-23-12

Blippar, an augmented reality ad platform that uses real-world tags to deliver extra AR content in offline situations, has raised $45 million in new funding from undisclosed investors. This comes on the heels of a big 2014 for UK-based Blippar, wherein the company made its first acquisition by purchasing Layar in June. Combined, the merged companies boast over 50 million global users.

But given the growth of the space, Blippar is ready to take the next step forward.

As it stands now, Blippar is mostly an advertising or publishing tool that allows a brand to put a “Blipp” (a real-world marker) on their offline goods that allow users to access an AR layer of information through their camera. It’s a speedy, beautiful product, but people are only so interested in chatting with brands.

Blippar founder Rish Mitra sees far more expansive applications for the technology, the most important of which is search.

“Words actually don’t help us out all that much,” said Mitra. “When you see a red dress on the street in New York, there’s no way to accurately describe that dress in a search on the internet. You would use a different description than I would, or someone else would, based on our differing perceptions.”

With the new version of Blippar (which doesn’t require real-world markers), users would ideally be able to point their camera at any object (like an apple or a red dress) and instantly see all of the extra information around it, like a purchasing page or a conversation around that object on Twitter or Instagram or videos on YouTube.

Obviously, the system won’t simply change overnight. Blippar is unveiling its latest technology next week at SXSW and will start in a few verticals, including Movies, Music, Books (fiction) and US-based sports teams, and expand into new verticals on a “week-by-week basis.”

But at scale, this changes Blippar’s model significantly. With physical markers, Blippar’s growth was limited to brokering individual deals with various brands (quite successfully, for that matter, with more than 2,500 brands on board). By making every object ‘blippable’, the company no longer has to grow on a product-by-product basis but can sell advertising space on just about anything.

Source TechCrunch

h1

Meeting Remco Vroom, TABWORLD

March 8, 2015

Another rapidly rising trend I learnt more about at Cannes is Augmented Reality, or AR as techies often calls it.For example, at the Lions, they had a second-screen app that added an AR tour to the Cannes Lions Press Exhibition. By scanning the ads on display, visitors could augment the ads and hear what the creative directors had to say about their work. Cool and functional.

via Meeting Remco Vroom, TABWORLD.

h1

Get the lowdown on Microsoft Hololens

March 1, 2015

microsoft-hololens-skype-rgb.pngToday at GDC 2015, Microsoft pledged the future of HoloLens to gaming as it confirmed that it will be bringing games to the headset through Xbox One.

“Gaming and entertainment is going to be critical” for HoloLens, said Xbox boss Phil Spencer. Microsoft considers HoloLens as a massive platform for games that will be built across Xbox One and Windows 10.

“We see this as a full Windows 10 device with holographic capability,” added Spencer, who also mentioned that the HoloLens APIs will be made available with Windows 10 gaming SDK.

As far as what we’ll end up seeing available on HoloLens through the Xbox One, it’s anyone’s guess. However, Spencer did make it clear that some hefty first-party muscle is behind the initiative. It’s very possible that we could see the likes of Master Chief through the AR headset in the future.

Microsoft has a vision for the future, and it involves terms and technology straight out of science fiction.

But are we actually glimpsing that future? Yes and no.

Microsoft’s HoloLens, which the company unveiled at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters on Wednesday, is a sleek, flashy headset with transparent lenses. You can see the world around you, but suddenly that world is transformed — with 3D objects floating in midair, virtual screens on the wall and your living room covered in virtual characters running amok.

Technology companies have long promised to bring us the future now, reaching ahead 5 or 10 years to try to amaze consumers with the next big breakthrough. Hollywood, on the other hand, has shown that tech in action (or at least simulations of it).

In “Minority Report,” for instance, Tom Cruise’s character used sweeping, midair hand gestures and transparent screens to do police work. Five years later, Apple unveiled the iPhone, and with it, a touchscreen operated by hand and finger gestures. Microsoft in turn served up its Kinect gesture-control device, which tracks people’s movements through space and feeds the data into an interface.

Going further, “The Matrix” showed hackers plugging computers into people’s brains to transport them to imaginary cities. And in “Star Trek,” computers used energy fields and visual tricks to create worlds people could touch and feel.

We’re not even close to those scenarios yet, but we’re taking tiny steps in that direction. Companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft are now attempting to move that fiction toward reality, and the public is beginning to see those visions of tomorrow take form.

So how does the HoloLens measure up against other reality-altering gadgets?

What’s a HoloLens, and how does it work?

Microsoft’s HoloLens is not actually producing 3D images that everyone can see; this isn’t “Star Trek.”

Instead of everyone walking into a room made to reproduce 3D images, Microsoft’s goggles show images only the wearer can see. Everyone else will just think you’re wearing goofy-looking glasses.

Another key thing about HoloLens is what Microsoft is trying to accomplish.

The company is not trying to transport you to a different world, but rather bring the wonders of a computer directly to the one you’re living in. Microsoft is overlaying images and objects onto our living rooms.

As a HoloLens wearer, you’ll still see the real world in front of you. You can walk around and talk to others without worrying about bumping into walls.

The goggles will track your movements, watch your gaze and transform what you see by blasting light at your eyes (it doesn’t hurt). Because the device tracks where you are, you can use hand gestures — right now it’s only a midair click by raising and lowering your finger — to interact with the 3D images.

There’s a whole bunch of other hardware that’s designed to help the HoloLens’ effects feel believable. The device has a plethora of sensors to sense your movements in a room and it uses this information along with layers of colored glass to create images you can interact with or investigate from different angles. Want to see the back of a virtual bike in the middle of your kitchen? Just walk to the other side of it.

The goggles also have a camera that looks at the room, so the HoloLens knows where tables, chairs and other objects are. It then uses that information to project 3D images on top of and even inside them — place virtual dynamite on your desk and you might blow a hole to see what’s inside.

hololens-review-970-80

 

Source: cNet, Techcrunch, Microsoft and many others

h1

December 13, 2012

The Microsoft Bing team is doing more than building a search engine that competes head-to-head with Google.

Part of the team, as I’ve blogged previously, also built some of the first Microsoft-branded consumer apps for Windows 8.

But it turns out there’s another team inside the Bing organization that is working on Windows 8 apps, too. There’s an Augmented Reality (AR) team inside Bing that is building both an AR framework and AR applications that will ship on Windows 8 tablets and other unspecified devices.

roadtofortaleza

In keeping with Microsoft’s new charter as a devices and services company, the so-called “Bing Information Platform team” is in the midst of developing “next-generation of intelligent cloud services for developers on all screen sizes,” according to a couple of job openings posted on Microsoft’s site.

This AR-focused Bing team is working on everything from camera tracking, to visual and audio recognition, to optical character recognition and translation and vision-based natural-user interfaces. The team already has made available some AR deliverables, including the Bing translation appaugmented-reality-enriched Bing Maps, and the Bing Vision and Bing Audio technologies in Windows Phone.

But the Bing AR team — which is staffing up further — also is working on an AR software development kit (SDK) for third-party developers interested in buildng AR apps; Microsoft-developed and -branded AR apps and games using this SDK; and a Windows Azure-based cloud framework for supporting both the Microsoft- and third-party AR apps.

The AR focus inside Bing shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, given that Microsoft moved many of those working on its defunct Live Labs team into Bing a couple of years back. The Bing unit also is home to Microsoft’s TellMe and other speech-centric products.

It will be interesting to see what kind of AR apps for Windows 8 the Bing Information Platform team builds out. Will any of these apps be optimized for the AR glasses — codenamed Fortaleza, and targeted for delivery in 2014 according to a Microsoft futures deck that leaked earlier this year — upon which Microsoft’s Xbox team is believed to be working?

Mary Jo Foley

By  for All About Microsoft

h1

Mindshare: Mediacompanies embrace Google glass augmented realiity!

November 24, 2012

As consumer hardware goes, few items have had such an instantly polarizing effect as Google’s Project Glass, the concept smart glasses (or, to be more precise, augmented reality head-mounted display) that have become an omnipresent accessory for Sergey Brin. Granted, to call them glasses is a reductive understatement, though the company’s description isn’t much help either: “[a] technology that frees you to explore and share your world while keeping you in the moment.” Clear as mud? To the uninitiated, think of them as a small computer with a mini screen on a springy headband that sits above your eye.

Watch this Google concept video for a better idea (or to be utterly terrified):

While they were deemed stylish enough by legendary designer Diane Von Fürstenburg to put them on the catwalk, there’s still a very big split between those who instantly shout in horror and crow about security risks and those who instead envision a new dawn in computing. Perhaps they both have a point: For some they will be the ultimate intrusion yet for others they could revolutionize business or the way we interact with the world. The truth is, we just don’t know yet. One thing is for sure, however: Some have more to gain than others

Generally, I am pro Glass: After all, technology is rarely evil (technology doesn’t harm people – people harm people!) But plainly speaking, this is the first piece of tech I have seen in a long time that has the potential to truly change everything. Forget tablets, forget smartphones, the technology behind Glass is not an extension of you, it literally becomes part of you. (Crucially, unlike other tech to-date, it also leaves your hands free – a facet you can see the porn barons already dreaming about.) What is most curious, though, is that I’ve yet to see the media jump on Glass and champion it during this embryonic period. Why are we not hearing about landmark partnerships being done between Google and media powerhouses? (Or is it that Google is not playing ball with them?) Why,  as with tablets, mobile and so many developments before, is the media industry so timid that they wait to be involved before leading the discussion?

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why Google Glass is poised to change everything:

Zero setup = perfection

The idea from the start is that you pop them on and truly just carry on being you – they’ll take care of the rest. This is the ultimate device that can not only benefit from contextual information but also demonstrated behavior, such as time of reading, likes, dislikes and so on. The system will quickly pick up on those variables (among many others) and soon enough take care of it automatically: no need anymore for RSS feeds, no circling, no preferences. Just read as you normally would, and it will get smarter and more precise and better at predicting your needs and wants. This fixes my main issues with the way we get news today, which still requires too much input from the user; instead Glass just gets out of the way.

Multivariate testing

Or, in other words, testing lots of variables to see which produce the best results then upweighting that combination. Adaptive marketing will be a heavily used term next year and in subsequent years as we react to the myriad devices giving agencies, planners and publishers oodles of delicious data to crunch. News should be making huge efforts to tailor their product to the individual based on their social and interest graphs (groups, likes, shares, purchases). Imagine a layout that could be tested and then updated because a different layout led to greater consumption. Currently this could really exist only on smartphones via apps, but has not been hugely raved about because of tracking issues.

Think beyond the device

Imagine an army of reporters all using these devices. It makes true real-time, breaking news very possible – in fact, it will redefine the very notion of what news is: no longer organized but reactive. Are the days of phone footage, or images being sent via email as news breaks numbered?  Imagine how ordinary people could become live reporters simply because they happen to be right by the action. When an incident occurs, a quick mobile ping and you’ll know who is around to turn their head and broadcast live images and video. I’d certainly watch more of that than fuzzy, ultra-zoomed snapshots grabbed off Twitter.

Advertising ROI

While Google has been less than clear when talking about built-in advertising opportunities, it’s obvious that with the advances in augmented technologies like BlippARAurasma and Obvious Engine image recognition is still sexy and – when used correctly – the results are good. The eye-tracking capabilities Google Glass poses should make not only media agencies and advertisers salivate but editorial departments as well. Shouldn’t better measurement, placement, contextualization, optimization of editorial (not to mention ads) be what we’re all fighting for?  Now we might have something that can do it! What’s the holdup?

This is just a taste of what’s going to possible from what my tiny noodle can dream up. The implications of these technologies are pretty staggering when you think about the big bad data wolf that’s smiling sweetly at us in the distance. Whether we like or know it, we’re going to be wearing more and more technology. When you consider the quickly expanding wearable tech trend – not just sensors in bracelets and shoes but actual things – the future looks clear.  We’ve already got Nike wristbands, headphones in hats,T-shirts that tweetbras that help with fitness(?!), sleeptrackerswatches with emergency communication systems and about 50 prototype products from Nokia. Suddenly Project Glass doesn’t look like a crazy leap so much as a solid step in the right direction.

As with most new technologies, there are still old problems to address: namely privacy, connectivity and, of course, battery life. The last two are relatively easy to solve but the first is a deep concern for most people. Even at a surface level there are major issues here that could affect adoption (while Google has stated it has no plans to integrate facial recognition elements, it’s clearly inevitable). But personally I suspect these will be overcome with the gadget-lust/cool factor and general usability the device will inevitably enable.

Then you have the other P-word, piracy. If you think cellphones were an issue for copyright and IP theft, imagine how quickly these bad boys could destroy an industry. Taking that idea further, how would you protect your important documents in a business? What about customer service? Or will they just force us all to be in better control of these things? Ultimately, though, the deciding factor for most issues will be a lot like the success of the Nike Band: the Glass-style technology that eventually takes off will be the one that doesn’t need to be taken off by users.

Right now, this isn’t likely Project Glass for the majority of folks out there, but it does leave me hopeful that future incarnations are close by  (without surgery). Whatever way this technology goes, and I believe it will go far if the marketing continues to be as slick as it has been, it’s clear the nerds – and more importantly the cultural influencers – love Project Glass.

So, media folk, I say this:  Start making connections and beefing up your technology departments. Google I/O (Google’s Developer Conference) attendees were able to sign up for a beta, and they’ll start getting their units very soon. This technology or a version of it is coming, the only question is how soon.

Paul Armstrong is Head of Social forMindshare; follow him atwww.paularmstrong.net or on Twitter@TheMediaIsDying.

 

h1

Now Google is getting into mobile augmented reality with a mass-market game!

November 19, 2012

Google is launching an augmented reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game on its Android operating system. The game is called Ingress, which is a word that essentially mean “an entrance,” and looks to be played by using a phone to interact with the game and the real world around the player at the same time. It gets even weirder, though.

Players will choose between two sides, the Resistance or the Enlightened. The Ingress page in the Google Play store says the game is based around a “mysterious energy” which has been uncovered in Europe, and the two sides are fighting over what to do with it. The Resistance, as the name suggests, are against using the energy, but the Enlightened are totally psyched about it. Which side you choose comes down to how willing you are to embrace weird new forces in your life. If you read this site, we’re guessing you’d side with the weird new energy.

Due to the fact that the game is still in closed beta, we haven’t had our hands on it, but we did find a viral marketing site based around the site at nianticproject.com. The site has a lot of videos and pictures that probably tie in to the game somehow. It’s built to resemble an investigation board and it follows the work the character P.A. Chapeau is doing to research the game’s mysterious energy and something called The Niantic Project.

We’ve seen augmented reality games before, but it seems like this is trying something new in terms of scale. There are also games like Parallel Kingdom and Shadow Cities that are location-based games, but it seems like Ingress will integrate more true augmented reality features into the game. That could just be from the look of this slick trailer for the game, but it doesn’t show much real gameplay so we can’t be sure.

Another feature that might just be something from the video and not an actual part of the game is that most of the energy fields seem to correspond to pieces of public sculpture, so at the very least Ingress might be a good reason to go walk around a bit and look at some art.

(via Geeks Are Sexy)

h1

Meet Sharky the Beaver, one of the coolest tablet-games using augmented reality.

November 16, 2012

PRESS RELEASE

BOULDER, Colo., Nov. 16, 2012 – Orbotix, the makers of Sphero, the first robotic ball gaming system controlled by smartphones and tablets, today announced the release of their groundbreaking augmented reality app, Sharky the Beaver. “Using Sphero as the moving fiducial, games can now be created where characters come to life and roam around a user’s house to interact with the real world environment,” said Orbotix CEO Paul Berberian.

(video via Engadget)

The app, Sharky The Beaver, overlays a virtual beaver on top of Sphero. As users drive Sphero with their iOS device, Sharky comes to life and runs around the environment looking for cupcakes. The user can also rotate their device into portrait mode to toss cupcakes at Sharky as he autonomously runs around.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers