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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Here’s a use case I hadn’t thought of. It’s coming from none other than Rolls Royce.

“The windows of the bridge serve as augmented reality displays of the vessel’s surroundings, including visualisation of potential hazards that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye. The system can, for example, pinpoint sea ice or tug boats and other craft that may not be visible to the crew, especially on large container ships.”

This is very cool stuff, but I have to wonder if in an age when self driving cars are speeding quickly toward reality if it’s really necessary to put people on cargo ships at all any more. Why shouldn’t they be piloted remotely by captains who can sleep at home after their shift is over. If we can fly high speed drones in Afghanistan from bunkers in Nebraska there’s no reason we cannot do this.

[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, 07: Modes of Visually Implementing AR,  I discussed the various means by which an augmented reality experience can be visually rendered and I emphasized mobile AR since this is clearly where the compelling use cases lie and therefore where the commercial opportunities exist. While the visual rendering is at the heart of AR, there are many other technologies that must be integrated into an AR solution in order for it to be engaging, effective and attractive to the market place. In this entry I will be reviewing other hardware technology that is converging to make mobile AR happen. Software and services also play a crucial role and will be covered in upcoming posts. Read More →

The Holy Grail of augmented reality technology is a wearable medium by which information and 3D images can be integrated into one’s view of the real world where it is in registration with the objects and surroundings being viewed and dynamically adapting to those surroundings in real time both positionally and informationally. There are a number of companies (whom I will cover in future posts) today who are either accomplishing this in a limited fashion or have something close to this ideal in development. While implementing this ideal into spectacles that are attractive, lightweight and unobtrusive is the ideal form factor for mobile AR, it is not the only medium for AR experiences. In this post I aim to identify the many means by which AR experiences can be implemented visually. In subsequent posts I will cover the other technological aspects that go into rendering AR experiences which complement this visual presentation.

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As AR begins to gain in popularity, our society will be forced to make certain provisions for, and restrictions on its use. This is an excellent example I found here where playing Google’s Niantic Lab’s Ingress game on Colorado Spring’s Schriever Air Force Base touched off a minor panic. The investigation was kicked off after a base patrol questioned a visitor who was taking pictures near the base’s 9/11 display. The result, as of this month, is that Ingress and other geo-location games like it are banned from the base. Base personnel are prohibited from playing those games or from escorting anyone onto the base to play the game. In what other scenarios do you see AR interfering with sensitive proceedings? Driving maybe? Maybe not — depends on the application.

In previous entries I have defined AR and the technological context in which it has evolved, but a further understanding will arise when one is exposed to the myriad use cases for it. Below I offer examples in a number of different categories, some of which already exist or are in development, while others are speculative in nature. What other use cases can you come up with? Be sure to let me know in the comments.

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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 →