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What’s next for Augmented Reality: the MWC keynote by Eric Schmidt

March 1, 2012

An excellent keynote speech on the second day of Mobile World Congress by Eric Schmidt is now up on YouTube. Below an interpretation what this all means for the development of Augmented Media and a few notes I took which may help you as a viewing guide.

In general, Schmidt didn’t refer too much to our area of interest which is all about Augmented Media in a mobile setting. Nevertheless his keynote is very relevant for the mobile future.

It is all about ubiquity and better performance at the tech side, and openness and willingness to cooperate at the governmental side and regulatory side.

As a matter of fact, performance will double roughly every year and half, a fairly autonomous process according to Moore’s law – this is where the Google engineers are working on to make it happen, especially where it concerns improvements which will be visible to end users.

For Augmented Reality applications this means that we will see the more than welcome improvement in responsiveness and accuracy. A sneak preview exists today: the continuous scanning mode in Google Goggles is in fact a sandbox application of Point and Know, a strong viual approach to search and discovery which will dramatically change the way we will interact with our environment in the future.

Imagine what real-time visual discovery can mean for illiterate people for instance, or to enable the so often cited “Terminator View” to overlay products and locations with background information. New Input/Ouput devices will definitely accelerate this development further (apparently it was too early for an official announcement of the highly anticipated Google Glasses right now).

With all this in mind it is really important to see that Google takes responsibility to make this kind of mobile distributed computing power really universally accessible and conquer the digital divide by working on other means of distributed connectivity besides our traditional cellular networks (using peer-to-peer, mesh networks for example).

Eric shortly mentions connected sensors but doesn’t go in much detail. In fact this very interesting area is slightly under exposed on the whole MWC event this year. We will write a separate post on this subject later.

For those of us who continually pay attention to the mobile developments Eric Schmidt’s talk does not reveal very new insights, rather confirms a very consistent and directed vision of Google how the connected future will look. Not surprisingly this is very much dominated by bringing the results of all this computing and technology as close to the end user as possible, by going mobile. And the best part is that all of this computing power will become invisible in the process, just like the electricity power grid is an invisible resource, a given which empowers us to focus on our real needs. Very well said, and something to be proud of as a front-runner to make this happen for Augmented Media.

On to the notes…

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Major trend for 2012: Point and Know

December 13, 2011

EFFIE - AR-poster - case by TAB Worldmedia2012 will be about instant visual information gratification. That is what researchers from Trendwatching are predicting. And what we are talking about on this blog.

While the article focuses on the ubiquity of QR codes for instant product discovery we take this still a step further, as we predict that 2012 will see an entire new class of Augmented Reality applications, integrated in existing native Apps, focusing on instant visual object recognition and enhancement.

We are seeing a few examples of these apps emerging right now, mostly for vertical markets like enhanced printed magazines (including advertising) or TV shows. In the generic space, Google Goggles is going in a much more visual driven direction, making smart use of the increasing capabilities of current mobile devices.

The relevance of this trend lies in the fact that common people will get acquainted with the idea that they can reveal extra information, entertainment, anything by just looking at an image through their phones. This also means that they will come to expect that every product – beginning with the major brands – will tell something about itself through visual recognition powered by Augmented Reality.

No longer is this feature an exclusive experience for geeks and avant-garde users, who are willing to take a side step and dive into technical steps to get extra info. Scanning a QR code is still such an activity which can be cut out of the process using visual recognition and virtual object superposition.

This also means that the whole process from seeing an image or object and getting more information about it stays entirely in the realm of the right hemisphere of the brain, without requiring a side step to the analytical activities which reside in the left hemisphere of the brain.

In other words: don’t make me think, skip to the results straight away. Augmented Reality applications deliver on this promise.

Read all about trend Point  & Know at


Next phase for Face Recognition and AR

October 5, 2011

It is already over two years ago that The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) launched their concept of a social network application which was powered by face recognition. The idea: point your mobile device at a person and see all their social network connections floating around their face, as a kind of social network aura.

This concept movie triggered a lot of interest, both favorable and worried reactions (big brother…). Many people took it even literal and were expecting that such an app was around the corner and soon available for their Android or iPhone.

In reality the technology was not ready for this type of application yet, and TAT has been acquired by RIM since and works on mobile UI development instead. Read the rest of this entry ?


Google Goggles enters Advertising Image Recognition space

January 10, 2011

Just a few moments ago, Google announced the expected update for their image recognition playground app, called Goggles, for Android.

The new 1.3 version app now links existing print ads in major US newspapers and magazines back to August 2010 to not only their official campaign URL but also related web search results. This goes beyond the experiment announced back in November, when only a small range of print ads was Goggles-enabled and no web results were shown.

This is pretty significant as it shows how fast Google is able to move forward and claim a relatively new space where some highly specialized niche players were dominating the market. Services like Kooaba come to mind, which focuses on linking print media to online campaigns.

We are curious as always how this will evolve and if and when Google is going to extend this service internationally.

If you’re running Android go download Goggles from the Android Market and start experimenting.

A fair warning though if you love playing Sudoku, as this version of Goggles is a real spoiler of the game, see the video below and judge for yourself!


Google acquires Metaweb

July 17, 2010

Yesterday, Metaweb announced that it has been acquired by Google.

Now this is very significant news because Google clearly shows that it no longer ignores the whole web 3.0 aka Semantic Web or Linked Open Data movement.

Up till now it seemed that they were not interested in these developments, which started early in this decade. Apart from a minimal exercise with “rich snippets” (normally known as microformats or the official w3c standard RDFa) they largely ignored the parts of the industry which were building on Semweb standards. Now, they get a jump start in this space with Metaweb and it’s flagship product, Freebase.

As you may know, Freebase is a Linked Data index of the web’s knowledge. This model of indexing the web is radically different from Google’s traditional approach; because everything is based on community efforts (DBPedia is a central source) and well defined open standards, there is no “secret sauce” involved – and hence no competitive advantage – which the well kept business secret of Page Rank provided until now. From this perspective, Google has a huge benefit by a dis-organized web of documents and so no incentive to contribute to any Linked Open Data standards.

At one hand this competitive advantage was diminishing because challengers like Bing are catching up with very similar quality web search results. At the other hand the Linked Data web is getting serious traction with the publication and rapid adoption of Facebook’s Open Graph protocol (and continued support form parties such as Yahoo!).

So all in all this is a very logical step for Google to take, and likely something they were planning for already, just waiting for the right time to hit and spend some pocket money.

OK, fine you’ll ask, but what has this to do with Augmented Reality?

Not very much on first sight, but I am convinced that Semantic Web technologies and Social Graph data will soon play a huge role in the evolution of Augmented Reality, see my blog post earlier this year: The Path to the Future of AR is Open.

For now, watch the video below for an excellent explanation about the benefits of Linked Data (Source: Metaweb’s blog).


Location based AR: the Third Generation

July 5, 2010

Mobile Augmented Reality on consumer devices is not even 2 years old and already at its 3rd generation regarding richness of its content model.

Apart from the very rapid technological improvements this has mostly to do with the creative innovators who adopted the new medium. These innovators constantly look for new ways to enhance the experience by adding new layers of depth and interaction models.

Mobile- or Location Based AR?

Mobile AR is an often used term to set this class of applications apart from the mostly static, marker based AR applications where a webcam attached to a computer is used to link a 3D model t a printed graphical marker. This type of application is certainly less mobile than the application class we call Mobile AR, but the main difference is that the latter uses the observer’s location as a unique trigger rather than visual recognition of a marker.

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Worldcup 2018, FIFA rules and AR

June 19, 2010

The whole Dutch Dress incident with the Orange dressed-up ladies keeps the media busy, as today the major Dutch newspaper opens with an article on the FIFA rules and how The Netherlands will facilitate them if the championship is to be held in this country [Dutch]: Nederland is voor het WK bereid veel te geven.

The gist is that there will be an advertising free zone of 2 kms around the stadiums, where only the main sponsor will be allowed to advertise, and that the Dutch police will assist in maintaining these rules.

It is ironic that this – pretty detailed – policy is communicated today, just when the Orange Dress prank was taken to virtual Augmented Reality space in the Durban stadium.

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