My recent neglect of the Augmera blog can be attributed to an exciting new project I’ve been working on over the past several months. This project is focused on the augmented reality smart glasses market. The AR glasses industry is still in its infancy. It is predictably fragmented as the products themselves take on different form factors, utilize an array of features and exhibit a range of technological sophistication. It may take several years for the marketplace to sort out what AR glasses should do, what they should look like and how much they should cost.
To address this uncertainty, I have developed the Augmented Reality Glasses Buyer’s Guide. The guide is a free, interactive online knowledge base that explains the key technological components and their roles in rendering AR experiences. The guide currently contains over 45 products that are on the market today or are in development and have promise to hit the market in the near future. At the heart of the guide is a database that I have been developing for the past several months. This database contains nearly 50 data points about each product. Users can interact with the guide to filter the products across many criteria. The guide also facilitates the side-by-side comparison of products by these features.
The Augmented Reality Glasses Buyer’s Guide is to make its official debut at the 2016 Augmented World Expo on June 1. It is officially published by AugmentedReality.org who also puts on the Expo. It’s founder, Ori Inbar, inspired me to create the guide and provided invaluable guidance, feedback and promotion.
The marketplace is certain to continue to move quickly and I plan to keep the site up to date to include new products as well as update existing products. Companies that make AR glasses can provided new and updated information by communicating this to me at info@ARGlassesBuyersGuide.com. I also intend to expand the number of data points that are being tracked in the database to include the more esoteric specifications.
The site is now live and you can view it at www.ARGlassesBuyersGuide.com. Be sure to come back to this post to let me know what you think. Happy browsing!
I kicked off this blog by exploring the definitions of augmented reality. It turns out there is no one universally accepted way of doing so. While most definitions revolve around visual input, I make a point of recognizing a definition that encompasses other sensory input. Lara Jongedijk, Researcher, Instructional Design at University of Calgary states, “Augmented reality (AR) is an environment where a real life is enhanced by virtual elements in real time. The purpose of AR is to enhance the information we naturally receive through our five senses, by adding superimposed, constructed virtual elements to bring complementary information and meaning that may not be possible by natural means.” This came to mind recently when I read about a KickStarter Campaign that is currently underway for a product called Gest. Read More →
At last month’s Augmented World Expo I had a chance to sit down with David Smith, CTO and co-founder of Wearality, for a conversation about how the Sky open source headset came to be. I had never heard of David or Wearality prior to arriving at the conference. During my first lap of the Exhibitor Expo I came across the Wearality booth, which was really just a high table with a poster hanging behind it and a few early production samples scattered about. The appearance was decidedly more start-up than established business. Next to the table was a man (who turned out to be David Smith) exuberantly extolling the virtues of his product to an attendee. The other company representatives were also deeply engaged, so I poked around at the plastic lens framesets sitting on the table but didn’t have any context to understand what I was looking at. It didn’t seem that I would be able to get attention any time soon so I moved on.
Shortly thereafter I found myself at the Smart Glass Introductions conference session where founders and executives from nine AR and VR glasses makers were given a few minutes each to promote the progress on their products. When it was David’s turn, he took the stage with no slides to show, no demo and no rehearsed spiel — a disposition that matched the sparse vibe of his booth. With the confidence of a quarterback, he launched into a brief promotion of the Wearality Sky that made the product sound absolutely revolutionary. “We think this is a game changer, in fact we know this is,” he pronounced. Read More →
The assertion that the pornography industry has always been at the cutting edge of the adoption and exploitation of new developments in communication technology has pretty much reached axiomatic status. Perhaps the most storied example of this is its fateful selection of VHS over the superior Betamax because of JVC’s decision to lower the cost of the tape duplication machines for production companies. But the demands of the porn industry are also often credited for the accelerated adoption of other technologies such as Polaroid photos and Super 8 film; pay per view and interactive TV; camcorder, DVD, and Blu-Ray; World Wide Web, VoIP, e commerce payments, and video chat. Arguably the Internet itself would not have grown so quickly without the bandwidth demanding, low friction, high privacy enablement of porn consumption.
The question at hand (pun intended) is whether the pornography industry will now step up and push the agenda for virtual technologies? Will pornography change from something we view to something we experience? Can augmented and virtual reality expand the way humans communicate and experience their sexuality? What are the technologies that will play a role in this transformation and how will they be used? What will be the social impacts of the availability of these experiences and how will they change society? These are all very heady questions that I intend to explore in this post.
[Warning! This article is NSFW] Read More →
Augmented reality head mounted displays (HMDs) leave your hands free to be productive, but they also pose the greater challenge of how to interact with this new face-bound form factor. Voice control is one means of interaction that is well suited for navigating menus and inputting commands or text, but is inefficient for many of the tasks that we are accustomed to accomplishing with mice or touch screens. There are also situations where voice commands are socially awkward or not feasible.
There is another means for humans to interface with computers that will be integral to HMD use, and that is through gestures. Most of us have experienced gesture control using video game consoles. The Nintendo Wii uses a wireless handheld controller (a.k.a. the Wiimote) that has micro mechanical motion sensing capability. Its accelerometers and gyroscope allows the user to interact with and manipulate items on screen by recognizing motion patterns that the hand makes while holding it. A different type of gesture control system known as Kinect is built into the Microsoft Xbox gaming system which uses computer vision technology. Kinect is a small device positioned above or below the video display that contains a time-of-flight camera and depth sensor which control the onscreen actions through 3D body motion capture.
These two types of gesture recognition systems (sometimes referred to as “natural user interfaces”) can be adapted for controlling augmented reality experienced through HMDs. There are two classes of gestures to consider for interfacing with the HMD computer: The first is the navigation of menus which is analogous to the point and click of a mouse; the second is manipulation of on-screen content such as selecting, highlighting, scaling, rotating, dragging, etc. In this post I will be comparing the two types of gesture controllers capable of performing these gesture classes then reviewing the options available today for implementation. Read More →
In my previous post I published a survey of nearly 70 different devices that are in development or already available on the market that can be used to perform some form of augmented reality. A great deal of research went into this exercise and I learned a lot about the head mounted display market and technology while conducting it. In this post I will distill this information down to provide a better understanding of the essential elements of AR technology that are integral to enabling the ideal experience. Read More →
While Google Glass seems to be the hardware that gets all the attention, it turns out there are many, many entrants in the AR head mounted display (HMD) field. Some are recent entrants to the market while others preceded Glass by years. As part of my survey of the state of the AR industry, I thought I’d put together a comprehensive list of the hardware I could find. Read More →
Last week I was invited to be a guest on David Robertson’s Innovation Navigation radio show on Sirius XM to discuss augmented reality. I befriended David whilst cycling across the great state of Iowa on the venerable RAGBRAI ride in 2013. David is a Professor of Practice at the Wharton School where he teaches Innovation and Product Development in Wharton’s undergraduate, MBA, and executive education programs.
Innovation Navigation features world-renowned thought leaders, accomplished executives, and distinguished faculty from around the world and is part of the Wharton Business Radio Network, available on SiriusXM channel 111 through the SiriusXM Internet Radio smartphone App, as well as online at siriusxm.com. David and I discussed AR technology, its use cases and the state of the industry. You can listen to five minutes of highlights from the 25 minute interview here. I was in good company on this edition of the show. Preceding me was a talk with a representative from the AeroMobil flying car company.
Today the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune published an essay entitled “Google Glass is the creepy innovation we didn’t want“. The following is my (brief) response as published in the website’s comments section under my nome de plume, RonPadz.
You may pronounce Glass dead but it would be a mistake to write off augmented reality (AR) entirely. You are correct in stating that Glass was missing the killer app, this much is true. We don’t need to walk around with cameras mounted on our foreheads. GoPro got it right by marketing a POV camera to be used when we are doing something truly worthy of sharing with others. Where I believe Glass went wrong is that it was touted as an always-on technology. Even though in society today we are constantly on camera everywhere we go, it turns out that it freaks people out when those cameras are mounted on the heads of others. Augmented reality is not about taking video and photos. The next generation of AR glasses will be intended for task-oriented usage. There will be times when AR will enhance our experience and then, and only then, will we don the glasses. For this to happen, AR must fulfill the promise of enhancing and enriching whatever it is we are doing. Whether at a museum or a ball game, if AR meets this criteria we won’t feel stupid looking like a cyborg while we do it. Then we’ll take the glasses off and go about our day. There are several companies out there with glasses in development that are far more advanced than Glass and along with their arrival will arise the use cases we’ve been waiting for. Until then, Glass should not be ridiculed for its failure, but rather it should be lauded for starting the conversation. History will credit Glass for taking AR out of the lab and sparking innovation that we likely have not even thought of yet.
In previous posts I have explored from a high level the types of hardware and software that are required to produce augmented reality experiences. In my next few posts I will cover the companies and products in this space. Specifically, in today’s post I will be running down the software development kits (SDKs) available to developers to create AR experiences.
Wikipedia defines an SDK as a set of development tools that allows for the creation of applications for a certain software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, video game console, operating system, or similar development platform. It may be something as simple as an application programming interface (API) in the form of some files to interface to a particular programming language or include sophisticated hardware to communicate with a certain embedded system. Common tools include debugging aids and other utilities often presented in an integrated development environment (IDE). SDKs also frequently include sample code and supporting technical notes or other supporting documentation to help clarify points from the primary reference material. Read More →