Creating the Cloud

Rouli and Ori have been churning great content faster than I can read it all.  The first is an expansive look at the various industries that might be revolutionized by AR.  The second is an interview with Ori Inbar from the UgoTrade.com site. 

The interview is pretty long, and hits a lot of great points about the past, present and future of AR.  Ori has an impressive wealth of ideas about the augmented reality movement.  I’d like to add to some of the points he made about developing the key pieces of AR using the open source communities.  Read this section of the interview:

Tish: So I’m going to put you in the role. You’ve got your dream job. You’re going to architect this community. So what are the key pieces and where would you like to see the open source communities take hold first?

Ori: Open source will not be exclusive. It’s going to live side by side with proprietary technology.

The key pieces? You have the user at the center. And the user interacts with a lens. The lens includes both the hardware and the software. And then the lens senses and interacts with the world, which includes people, things and places. And these people-things-places emit information – about who they are, where they are, what they’re doing, etc  – which is then stored in the cloud.

And then you have the content providers, the people and companies, composers who weave AR experiences through the pieces we mentioned before. These composers need a platform that glues these pieces together. Pieces of the platform will be on the lens, and in the world, and in the cloud. If you manage to remove the frictions, and connect these pieces into an experience that people like – then you have a platform. What the platform does it reduces the overhead and accelerates innovation.

Tish: Another problem virtual worlds faced in their development was their isolation from the world wide web.  Will augmented reality avoid this plight?

Ori:  Yes, I believe the key, like you said before, is not to reinvent the wheel. The cloud is already there.  Take Wikitude for example, all Mobilizyhad to do is build  a relatively simple client app, connected to wikipedia, and all of a sudden it offered a wealth of information in your field of view.

I think we can learn a lot from web 2.0. For example, in order to have a ubiquitous experience like Robert Rice and others are striving for, you’ll need to 3d map the world. Google earth like apps are going to help but it is not going to be sufficient. So let’s leverage people. Google became successful in part by making people work with them.  Each time you create a link from your blog to my blog their search engines learn from it.  So let’s find ways to make people create information that can be used for AR.

Creating the “cloud” content that AR developers use is an important piece of the puzzle.  The more information that exists in the cloud, the more developers can innovate. 

A small scale example of this idea is can be seen with mods for the MMO game World of Warcraft.  As I explained previously, the highly customizable interfaces players use in the game have access to much of the WoW cloud of data.  This has allowed WoW mod developers to create useful programs to help players find in game locations easier, manage their equipment and supplies, communicate between groups of 25 people during complex encounters and hundreds of other small tasks.

For real-life, we can’t rely on a paid subscription model that Blizzard uses for WoW to fund the cloud generation.  Instead we have to find innovative ways to generate the cloud, leveraging the tools we already have.  Here are some ideas on how to automate the cloud generation.

1) In Automation of the Digitilization of the World, I explained how Photosynth could be used to quickly populate the world of its digital architeture.

2) Raw data needs to be more accessable for innovators to do new and interesting things with it.  Hyunyoung Choi, a Google employee, shows us how he uses Google Trends to help make economic forecasts more accurate in this economist.com article

3) Ori already mentioned the social databases like Facebook and MySpace.  These would be useful displays of personal information, though I would like to restrict who can see what information. 

4) Businesses should allow access to the raw data from their websites so people can compare pricings between different stores or other useful endevours. 

5) Always-on cameras could add information to the data stream through simple counting exercises.  Counting cars on a highway or road and using the GPS to track location could help solve traffic issues through better information. 

6) User created content.  Make is easy for anyone to information to the Digital Sea.  I think a series of information layers for any geolocation would be useful.  Layer one might be basic directions.  Layer two business information for consumers.  Layer three structural information for city engineers.  Layer four a social layer for who passed through the area.  Layer five could be a free-for-all space for anyone to experiment. 

Create the cloud and they will come.  The more raw data is available, the more innovations will create interesting content to drive the augmented reality movement.

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