Augmented reality has come a long way in a years time. Last year I got excited by research projects and gimmicky AR webcam advertising, but that quickly faded on the tenth plus iteration. It wasn’t until July that we starting having real AR products in the form of apps. Nearly a year later and still early in the development of the AR ecosystem, we’re seeing a more diverse use of the technology and that has me excited again. So I want to take a moment to go over ten cool things going on right now in augmented reality.
1. Battle of the AR Browsers
Wikitude, Layar, Tonchidot, Junaio, TagWhat and others hope to be the standard for the AR browser market. Layar has recently upped the ante with an AR content store and TagWhat takes it in a new direction by combining lessons learned with Foursquare and Twitter. I suspect one of the big boys like Google, Twitter or Facebook will eventually either create their own or co-opt the ideas from these early browsers into their current products. I’m not sure which horse to bet on in this race, but in the end we customers are the winners.
Using an Eye-Trek video headset, the guy at Tailormadetoys made a pair of AR glasses. I love the DIY culture and while they’re not see-through, I think all the right parts to make one are out there. This post from Team Hack-a-Day proves that the DIY makers are getting close, so why can’t one of the big makers get it done?
3. The AR phone – Ouidoo
The specs on this Ouidoo QderoPateo smartphone are in the WTF!? zone. While the phone won’t be out until the fall, the company claims it’ll have a 26-core CPU capable of 8-gigaflop floating point operations and include 512MB RAM, 4GB ROM, 28GB of built-in storage, microSD expansion, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, built-in 3D map, accelerometer, digital compass, 5-megapixel camera with flash, 220 hours of standby battery life, and a sharp 3.5-inch 800 x 480 screen. Whew.
While I’m not completely believing the hype, and it could end up being vaporware, it certainly looks promising. Though it’ll have to work hard to compete with the likes of the iPhone and Droid.
Bionic eyes and augmented reality. It’s like peanut better and chocolate! Rob Spence is putting a camera into his eye to make movies with (and because its just plain cool.) And he’s also interested in combining augmented reality with his eye camera. They’ve come up with a promotionalAR eyeborg t-shirt in the meantime.
Bruce Sterling, Will Wright, Marco Tempest, and the list goes on. It pains me to say that I won’t be able to make the inaugural event. I had a work conflict with that week, so I have to bow out of hosting the panel on AR glasses. But for the rest of you, I hope you’ll be able to make it. With AR on the rise and viable business options a-plenty, it’s a good time to network and see what everyone is doing with the nascent technology. This is the “can’t miss” AR event of the year.
Our favorite interviewer Tish Shute and longtime commenter Thomas Wrobel have been sheparding the AR Wave project and collaborating with people all over the globe. While it’s still too early to tell, this could end up being one of the most important AR developments out there if they can truly create an open source way of using AR. As they’ve been telling everyone, they’re trying to make a system that:
* Anyone can make content
* Anyone can make a browser
* Anyone can run a server
7. iPhone OS4.0
It almost pains me to get excited about an iPhone update that promises video access to make real AR work on that smartphone. We got fooled last September with the OS3.1. I’m hoping we don’t get fooled again (unless you’re the Who.)
I’m not even entirely sure if haptic floors fit into the augmented reality spectrum, but it’s so crazy weird and true, that I had to include it. I seriously doubt we’ll be seeing a commercial product anytime soon though (or ever.)
9. AR Drone
While the news on the AR drone is a stale few months old, I still think it warrants inclusion because it was a great product. The hovercraft alone was worth the price of admission, but the AR added a creative twist to it. I have no idea if it sold well, but it sure did capture the imaginations of a lot of geeks.
10. You choose!
Let us know what you think is the coolest thing going in augmented reality right now. Whether it’s a product only hinted at or one currently residing on your smartphone, we’d like to hear it. So let us know over at Games Alfresco in the comment section (pointing the conversation over there to keep the comments together)!