Tag Archives | Augmented Reality

Google Goggles That Really Are Goggles

Seth Weintraub of 9to5Google reports that Google is working on smart eyeglasses with a built-in heads up display that knows where you are and shows relevant Google info:

The heads up display (HUD) is only for one eye and on the side. It is not transparent nor does it have dual 3D configurations, as previously speculated.

One really cool bit: The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.

Google isn’t the only company working on this idea–for instance when I visited NTT Docomo in Tokyo last fall, I tried out a similar prototype which that company had designed in collaboration with Olympus. But I wonder who’ll be the first to ship something that actually works and is useful?

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Every Kind of Reality But Real Reality

Last week, our Los Angeles correspondent Jared Newman dropped in on the first Immersive Tech Summit, a conference about virtual reality, augmented reality, and other attempts to make the virtual world a little more realistic–or, sometimes, the real world a little more virtual. He took pictures as he explored the show, and has put together a gallery of some of the exhibits he visited. (My favorite, even though I don’t quite understand it, is the fellow at right, who goes by the name Punch Bob.)

View Scenes from the 2010 Immersive Tech Summit slideshow

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Scenes From the 2010 Immersive Tech Summit

Not everyone’s satisfied with TVs, projectors, and computer monitors as the be-all end-all of multimedia. Last week, these people converged in Los Angeles for the first annual Immersive Tech Summit. What is immersive technology, exactly? From what I could tell, it was a lot of augmented reality, virtual reality, and audio-visual installations that most consumers can’t afford, like this 50-foot dome-shaped theater. Read on for more scenes from this wild side of tech.

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Sky Siege: iPhone Augmented Reality Gaming, Still Rough

Thanks to Gizmodo, I got wind of Sky Siege, an augmented and virtual reality game for the iPhone, and I plunked down $3 at the App Store so you don’t have to.

Using the iPhone 3GS to look around, you must track down little helicopters, blimps and fighter jets, taking them out with a machine gun or missile launcher before they get you. You can either play the game with its own grassy field background graphics, or switch on the camera to use your real life surroundings as the battlefield. The game plays the same either way. Here’s a video showing the action:

After playing Sky Siege for about 20 minutes, I’m a little bit dizzy from all the spinning and twisting, and believe me, 20 minutes is all you really need. The virtual reality target practice is amusing at first, but it’s a one-trick pony. It wasn’t long before I had enough of the augmented reality gimmick, cool as it was.

Seeing as Sky Siege is the only augmented reality video game I could find in the App Store, it comes off more as a tech demo than a fully-realized game. Other than using your room as a backdrop, there’s no actual interaction with the real world, which might’ve added some nuance to the experience. ¬†There’s also no dodging or other movement required besides spinning and twisting to aim. As a game, Sky Siege doesn’t stand on its own; if it used virtual thumbsticks instead of an orientation-tracking algorithm, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

But there is potential here. I want to see more games that take the real-world theme deeper, like the upcoming Ghostwire for the Nintendo DSi. Sky Siege proves augmented reality gaming is possible on the iPhone — and if you’ve got $3 to burn it might be worth getting just to impress your friends — but it’s not the definitive example of what augmented reality can do.


Yelp Adds Augmented Reality

Yelp LogoAugmented reality–the process of overlaying computer-generated information and imagery on live video–is as good a candidate as any for tech buzzword du jour, and it’s come to the iPhone. As Robert Scoble discovered, the new version of the Yelp application contains an Easter Egg: Shake your iPhone 3GS three times (hard!) and it unlocks a new feature called Monocle.

Moncole uses the 3GS’s camera and compass to let you point the phone at a locale and see Yelp listings for nearby businesses bobbing along on top:

Yelp Monocole View

It’s a neat effect, although I’m not sure if it offers any real advantage over a more traditional map view–the Yelp listings are small enough that they’re tough to tap with your finger, and they don’t make clear where the establishment in question is. And as you can see, some of them even get covered up.

As ReadWriteWeb has reported, other existing iPhone apps are adding augmented reality, too. It’s a cool idea even if the first killer app hasn’t arrived, and you gotta think we’ll see increasingly sophisticated use of it. Me, I want to be able to aim my camera at a person I don’t quite recognize and be reminded who they are…

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