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The future of augmented reality (

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

4 March 2011 9:37 GMT / By Dan Sung

While our top priority on AR Week on Pocket-lint was to speak to our five leading experts in the field of augment reality to find out what’s going on at the cutting edge, we couldn’t but help ask them to become part soothsayer as well.

At the end of the sessions we asked each of them what their vision for AR was when it finally does make it – its limitations and successes. So, here is the future of augmented reality according to those that know. Follow the links to read more of their thoughts.

Prof. Blair MacIntyre, director of Augmented Environments Lab, Georgia Institute of Technology

“We’re 80 per cent of the way there with AR but the last 20 is going to be hard.”

“Not a lot is going to happen until we have head worn displays. It’ll be more compelling when it’s there. The day I have a pair of funky sunglasses and walk around with non-obnoxious advertising, news, social networking, totally immersed in the world, then AR will really have arrived.

“But before that, there are so many huge questions to answer: can we get all of the technology we need onto a mobile device; can we make it usable and not invasive, not a dystopian existence; and can we use it to build a positive future?

“Will AR like that arrive in my lifetime? Well, perhaps something of it, but not quite so well as we see now done in sports.” (More from the interview

Prof. Bruce Thomas, head of Wearable Computer Labs, Uni of South Australia

“A navigation application that actually works will be the killer app. To be able to just go to any restaurant anywhere in the world with confidence, convenient instructions and very good visual cuing will be irresistible. At the moment there are sensor problems, and compasses in phones aren’t very good but computer vision will overcome these.”

“They’ll need to extend the gaming community first but the next form of entertainment will be leveraging social networks. This isn’t Second Life. You want people in your space. My most enjoyable time with friends is having a cup of coffee with them, not being on Skype, and with the projector technology available right now, that reality is very, very close. Maybe it won’t be good enough for musical chairs just yet but there’s no reason why it can’t be done to sit down in a certain dedicated area.” (More from the interview)

Dr Christian Sandor, Head of Magic Vision Lab, Uni of South Australia

“We’ve all been waiting for something to happen for quite some time. Apple and Google have been quiet on AR for a long time. It feels like they’re holding something back but no doubt we’ll soon see some really good AR applications from them embedded into their mobile platforms. The wait is most likely so that these releases can be absolutely bulletproof and really nice when they arrive to wow us all.

“When that’s all there, when these applications are on every iPhone and every Android smartphone out there and when my grandmother’s using it, then AR will have really arrived.” (More from the interview)

Prof. Steve Feiner, Head of Computer Science, Columbia University

“I honesty believe that at some point in the future we’re going to have AR eyewear that’s sufficiently light weight, comfortable, visually appealing, high quality enough and at the right price that people will want to wear while walking around. It has to be socially acceptable and desirable.”

“And AR contact lenses, yes, they’ll happen but my question to you is this – why have it washing around on the surface of your eye when you can have it implanted inside your head? Sure there are social and ethical issues but these things will change with each generation as it becomes more acceptable. (More from the interview)

Dr Georg Klein, leading expert in computer vision and augmented reality

“For perfect AR, it’s not enough to know where the camera is. Even if that is solved, then what about what’s around the camera?”

“HMDs (head-mounted displays) were meant to be the evolution of AR but people have stopped working on them. AR might only really take off when those are developed but there’s a funding gap at the moment. None of the big companies are really investing in them.”

“The thing you have to ask yourself with all these GPS augmented reality phone applications – are they any more useful than a top down map? They’re going to get better and it’s up to the user to decide when they reach that point that they really are an improvement on the standard versions.” (More from the interview)

For more information on what Qualcomm is doing with Augmented Reality please click:

And for more on AR Week head over to our AR Week homepage on Pocket-lint


Marketing or Ad Campaigns

March 13, 2012 1 comment

BY: Yatharth Sharma

1. Billabong launches augmented reality ad campaign

Billabong has become the latest company to use augmented reality technology (AR) in an interactive ad campaign.

The sports brand is using Augmented Reality(AR) app Zappar to allow consumers to interact with its instore, online and print advertising.

By using Zappar on Billabong’s ‘Life’s better in board shorts’ ads, consumers gain access to videos of surfers and are linked to a dedicated microsite.

The Billabong campaign signals a growing trend for brands to use interactive ads.

QR codes are becoming increasingly prevalent. We reported on eBay and John Lewis experimenting with the technology to drive mobile sales in the run up to Christmas.

AR is billed as being a step ahead of QR codes as it can offer users a more interactive experience through the use of 3D imagery, audio and videos.

Zappar’s app offers similar functionality to Blippar, which launched an AR campaign with Waitrose in November, and has been used other brands, including Tesco and Heinz.

Connell Gauld, Zappar’s platform director, says the difference between his AR app and others on the market is the motivation behind the campaigns.

We only want to use AR technology where it genuinely adds something o the user experience. It’s easy to use AR where it looks good but doesn’t actually add anything of value for the user.

Gauld said that AR could easily become a fad if brands don’t use it correctly, with its primary function being for entertainment for the time being.

Zappar has been involved in AR ad campaigns with Warner Brothers for films such as Green Lantern and Happy Feet 2.

In its current form it’s difficult to think of more functional uses for this technology. With entertainment you have got content there already and AR backs it up and makes the user feel like they are part of it.

The AR campaign fits well with Billabong’s brand as the technology should appeal to its target audience of image-conscious teenagers and young adults.

However, though the technology looks cool (note that the video demo uses an iPad), the app leads users to a microsite that is not mobile optimised, which is missing a trick.

Mobile response mechanisms like AR and QR can work well, but the whole user journey needs to be considered. Having a mobile optimised landing page is a must. 

If the aim is to get potential customers to scan using their mobiles, then leading them to webpage that is hard to use on a mobile undermines the effort made in attracting them to the page.

2. REI “Find Out NYC” Augmented Reality Ads

REI have just launched their first store in NYC, probably a weird place to have an awesome, hardcore outdoor store right? Well, not if you can convince New Yorkers that the real outdoors aren’t all that far away, and what better way to do that then tempt with augmented reality ads.

3. eBay: Give-A-Toy Store Window Installation

Here is a really cool and innovative way to evoke our sensitive, giving side this Christmas, with eBay’s amazing Give-A-Toy Store window installation in New York (at 35th and Broadway) and San Francisco (at 117 Post St), or if you can’t get there, you can get the same experience right here.

4. KIA: Augmented Reality TV Ads

Did anyone give this a try during the Australian Open? It was an ongoing “Augmented Reality” campaign activated via your Mobile phone, through the TV coverage of the grand slam event.

Available for both iPhone and Andriod, any time you captured the KIA logo through the app, it would activate an interactive 3D Augmented Reality experience for the new KIA Optima that allowed you to explore the car’s features, change colours and turn the headlights lights on and off. The app also crossed over into a number of print executions throughout the event. Created by ExploreEngage.

5. Adidas Augmented Reality Shoes Campaign

The social sphere is alive with chatter on the new Adidas Augmented Reality Shoescampaign that is to launch in Feb. Adidas shoes will come with codes in the tongue that allow you to hold it up to a web cam and launch a 3D world right in the palm of your hands.

Where this is different to normal Augmented Reality campaigns, is that this 3D world will be completely interactive with at least 3 games added to the town with different shoes as the keys to access those exclusive areas. The shoe will also be the controller for the game while also allowing you to spin, zoom and change perspectives of the pop-up town in your hand.

I’m really looking forward to getting a sneak preview demo so stay tuned! Gimmick? Yes. Will people buy shoes to get exclusive access to games? Probably. Will blogs and forums fill up with people trying to get into the games and share codes? Definitely. Will it be viral? No doubt, if they support the launch with some great creative – which it looks like they will be. (via Wired)

5.  Disney: Augmented Reality In Times Square

Things are heating up in the Times Square visual overload arena! This time with a new Disney Parks Augmented Reality Billboard experience that spans across Times Square. Disney have taken over the entire American Eagle Outfitters digital billboard set and then across the road have installed the Augmented Reality experience featuring all of their popular characters.

When people stand in the specially marked circle opposite the digital billboard, an Augmented Reality character magically appears and interacts with them as they watch on the big screen. Some times this concept works and others it just feels a little out of place, but here in Times Square, it’s a perfect fit and a fantastic experience. There have been some great other AR installations like this, including the National Geographic one, Lynx Angels Ambush and Forever 21.

6. CommBank’s Augmented Reality Newspaper Ad

The Commonwealth Bank has recently won numerous awards for it’s augmented reality property app that has been around for almost a year. Now, claiming a “worldwide industry first”, the Commonwealth Bank has run a mobile-driven, augmented reality press ad in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane mX titles. The ad required a 3D reader iPhone app aims to help explain how to use its property guide app.

The app lets you access Cherryford Hill, a 3D virtual town where users can interact, move around and experience the features of the CommBank Property Guide app.

It’s great to see big banks looking for new and engaging ways to interact with their customers. With this latest campaign they are blending traditional newspaper ads with an innovative and engaging Augmented Reality experience. But what will the uptake be? (created by ExploreEngage)