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 →

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.

I was wowed by the revelation of the Cicret Bracelet which promises to “make your skin your new touchscreen”. The design includes a pico projector embedded in a thin bracelet that uses an array of 8 proximity sensors to sense where the wearer is touching the screen image from their connected smart phone. The demo simulation in the video is slick but not does not accurately depict the occlusion of the projected image that would take place each time the arm is touched. The idea is otherwise very exciting.

However, it is my opinion that the pico projector technology is not yet small enough to fit into this form factor. Fitting enough battery to run such a projector for any significant amount of time would also be unlikely. Note that to make use of this gadget you would need to shave your arms as the demonstrator in the video apparently has. Cicret is being crowd funded but is operating the funding themselves rather than using one of the Kick Starter-like sites. There is no offer of reward for those who fund the project nor is there any way to know if the donation is actually being invested in R&D. There is nothing about the team proposing to build this nor is there any real contact information indicating where your money may be going. As cool as the gadget would be if created, there is nothing here to give me confidence that it will ever happen. I challenge the folks at Cicret to better establish credibility before asking me to give them my money.

I posted this comment on this Wired article today:

It’s clear that people still don’t get the potential of augmented reality. The fact that the media keeps comparing it to Oculus indicates that they don’t get it either. The use cases for AR and VR are entirely divergent. Oculus will be all about immersive movies and gaming while AR is about the overlay of images and information on the real world. What Magic Leap promises to do that Glass cannot is provide 3D imagery that interacts with one’s surroundings and obey the physics of those surroundings. Note how the elephant GIF depicts a technological sensory awareness of the hands as a surface on which the elephant can stand. That’s REALLY hard to do and is the holy grail of AR (along with finding a form factor for spectacles that people will embrace). Once you nail this, AR becomes a hands-free medium for executing guided tasks, presenting information about objects, people and places in the field of view, gaming and… yes, advertising. Read More →