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 →

(edited 3/2/2015)

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 →

Photo: sellingpix/Shutterstock

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 →

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 →

Like most new technologies, augmented reality was born in the labs of researchers working at various institutions by identifying and approaching the various technical problems that need to be solved. These researchers reside in universities, non-profit research institutions and government-industry joint partnerships and have had a very important role in the emergence of AR. Many early-stage technologies are, by their nature, broadly enabling. Therefore, companies would not likely be able to realize all of the R&D benefits themselves if they were to invest in this research. To remain competitive, companies with limited R&D budgets must focus strictly on what is going to benefit them rather than what will be broadly enabling. Research institutions bridge the gap between high risk ideas and practical implementation.

In this post I aim to cover many of the important institutions currently conducting important research responsible for laying the groundwork for augmented reality to achieve its full potential. They are listed in alphabetical order. Please feel free to reach out to me or leave comments about additional entities that may belong on this list. Read More →

(Updated 2/5/2015)

Conferences provide the opportunity to assemble like-minded people together to share and disseminate knowledge and ideas. They provide a place for people to meet face to face and learn about what each other are doing and thinking through formal presentation and informal dialog. They serve as a catalyst for ideas to recombinate and minds to meld and often result in the advancement of research or commercialization.

There are a number of conferences around the world that are focused on different aspects of Augmented Reality. The number of events and their far flung locations point to the fact that AR is truly a global phenomenon. Some of these are commercially oriented, some are scientific while others are focused on the social aspects of the technology. I have listed conferences that are either centered on augmented reality or prominently feature AR in their program. In my research I found that there are many other conferences that are adding sessions and topics on augmented reality in order to introduce their audiences to the future of what’s to come within the context of their respective industries and disciplines. These conferences where AR is a merely tangential topic are not listed here. Also not listed are the meetings of standards groups. All in this list are known to be currently or recently active.

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[Updated 7 january, 2015]

My preceding posts have been about defining augmented reality, how it’s used and how it works. From here I intend to cover the state of the AR industry. This includes how it is evolving, how it is organizing, how standards are arising, how it is collaborating, and who the players are.

I think a good place to start this section would be to cover the ongoing process of standards development. Without standards, the industry would be a fragmented and disorganized mess, doomed to never being able to fulfill the technology’s great promise. However, my research indicates that the stakeholders have been doing an excellent job of carefully and deliberately collaborating to design the arena in which they shall all compete. It’s exciting to be here at the dawn of the era where I can witness the hardware and software technologies converge and the new technology begin to emerge. Read More →

Source: Layar

In my previous two posts I discussed how hardware, software and services come together to deliver augmented reality experiences. Many AR apps are designed to perform specific functions within specific contexts. For instance, an app designed to provide enriched information about an art museum exhibit is only of use when visiting that particular exhibit and would otherwise be of little or no value outside of that context. Furthermore, it would detract from the art if the visitor were being constantly bombarded by AR throughout their tour of the exhibit. In this example the AR experience should be triggered at certain places in the exhibit and disappear at other times. So how does an app know when to perform its intended function? In this post I will be discussing the different ways by which an app can understand context and thus trigger the intended AR experience or content. Read More →

In my previous entry, 08: Mobile AR Hardware Technologies, I discussed the hardware technologies that are converging to enable mobile augmented reality experiences. Software and services are the other components that are crucial to the delivery of mobile AR experiences and I cover both in this post. There are several layers of software involved, some of which have to do with how developers create experiences while the others are about delivering the experience to the user. Services are applications that provide data or information that is consumed by AR applications over a network (i.e. the Internet). This data is much too diverse and vast to be stored on the device so it is made available upon demand. While hardware and software are responsible for rendering the AR experience, it is services that truly bring value to the user. Read More →