Augmented World Expo 2013: It’s a wrap!

Augmented World Expo 2013 was really an amazing experience. I’m co-founder and co-organizer of the conference, along with Ori Inbar, so it has meant a lot to me to see our event grow over the last four years, and thrilling to make such a big splash this year.  There were 1,163 attendees, and the expo show cased an ecosystem of emerging technologies – augmented reality, gesture interaction, eyewear, wearables, and connected hardware of  many stripes, that mark the beginning of natural computing entering the mainstream. It was a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with what it feels like to be an augmented human in an augmented world!

Videos of AWE 2013′s 35 hours of educational sessions and inspirational keynotes are now available on our YouTube channel. I am sharing my own talk (my slides are also up on slideshare here), and a few of my favorites in this post, but there are far to many to post here, so please browse further on the Augmented World Expo youtube channel.

One notable high point of AWE2013, for me, was the showcase sponsored by Meta, a startup developing the first device allowing visualization and interaction with 3D virtual objects in the real world using your hands. It was made possible by the generous contribution from the private collections of Paul Travers, Dan Cui, Steven Feiner, Steve Mann, and Chris Grayson, and passionate volunteers who are helping advance the industry. Sean Hollister of The Verge did this excellent report on the eyewear showcase 35 years of wearable computing history at Augmented World Expo 2013
Also for more on Meta see this article by Dan Farber.

My colleagues at Syntertainment, Will Wright, Avi Bar-Zeev, Jason Shankel, and LaurenElliott all gave great talks. Ironically, we’re not building augmented reality apps or H/W. We all just happen to continue to be very interested in the field.  

Thank you to everyone for supporting the event!

The press coverage was truly extensive:

In the shadow of Google Glass, an augmented reality industry revs its engines
The Verge, Sean Hollister, June 9, 2013, 271 Tweets

The next big thing in tech: Augmented reality
CNET, Dan Farber, June 7, 2013
Pick up on Current News Daily
350 Tweets

AWE 2013 Conference Report: Augmented Reality and Marketing
The Persuaders Marketing Podcast on Dublin City FM, June 23, 2013

AR Dirt Podcast – Ori Inbar AWE2013 Extravaganza Recap
AR Dirt by Joseph Rampolla, June 18, 2013

35 years of wearable computing history at Augmented World Expo 2013
The Verge, Sean Hollister, June 9, 2013
7 Tweets

Augmented Reality: Bruce Sterling, keynote at Augmented World Expo 2013
Wired, Bruce Sterling, June 9, 2013
9 Tweets

On the road for VR: Augmented World Expo 2013
Doc-Ok, Staff, June 7, 2013
3 Tweets

My Interview from Augmented World Expo 2013 [VIDEO], Brian Wassom, June 7, 2013

Augmented World Expo
ZenFri, Staff, June 7, 2013

AWE2013: Hardware for an augmented world, Felipe Neves Dos Santos, June 6, 2013

Augmented Reality Will Be the New Reality
InvestorPlace, Brad Moon, June 6, 2013

Wearable computing pioneer Steve Mann: Who watches the watchmen?
TechHive, Armando Rodriguez, June 6, 2013

Expo puts augmented reality in the limelight
ABC 7 News, Jonathan Bloom, June 5, 2013

These OLED microdisplays are the future of augmented reality
DVICE, Evan Ackerman, June 5, 2013

Visualized: a history of augmented and virtual reality eyewear
Engadget, Michael Gorman, June 5, 2013

Wikitude announces Wikitude Studio and in-house developed IR & Tracking engine
PapiTV, KC Leung, June 5, 2013

Augmented reality expo aims for sci-fi future today
USA Today, Marco della Cava, June 5, 2013

Augmented Reality: High Dynamic Range (HDR) Video Image Processing For Digital Glass
Wired, Bruce Sterling, June 5, 2013

Will Wright at Augmented Reality Conference: Don’t Augment Reality, Decimate It
AllThingsD, Eric Johnson, June 4, 2013

Philip Rosedale’s Second Life with High Fidelity
CNET, Dan Farber, June 4, 2013

Google Glass competitors vie for attention as industry grows
PC World, Zack Miners for IDG News Service, June 4, 2013

4D Augmented Reality Leader Daqri Announces $15 Million Financing
Press Release, June 4, 2013

CrowdOptic Powers Lancome Virtual Gallery App, Crowd-powered Heat Map
TechZone 360, Peter Bernstein, June 3, 2013

Augmented humans, enhanced happiness?
Crave Culture, Angelica Weihs, June 2, 2013

Metaio & Vuzix to Showcase AR-Ready Smart Glasses at the 2013 Augmented World Expo
Press Release, May 30, 2013

Four ways augmented reality will invade your life in 2013
Quartz, Rachel Feltman, May 30, 2013

Augmented Reality: Augmented World Expo™ is next week
Wired, Bruce Sterling, May 28, 2013

Strike it Rich with Cachetown and AWE 2013 Playing the Gold Rush 49’er Challenge In Augmented Reality
Press Release, May 24, 2013

Local Community College Student Headed to Silicon Valley to Learn More about Augmented Reality
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Staff, May 24, 2013

Explore an intricate labyrinth with smartphone AR
CNET Australia, Michelle Starr, May 21, 2013

Dartmouth firm lands super app
Herald Business, Remo Zaccagna, May 21, 2013

Augmented World Expo 2013–The Future of Augmented Reality
Silicon Angle, Saroj Kar, May 17, 2013

Shaping Play with Connected Stuff: IoToaster a prize winner in the YCombinator Upverter Hackathon!

We had so much fun at the YCombinator Upverter Hackathon. I was honored to be part of “the beatles” team  (Sam Cuttriss, Josh Cardenas, Jason Appelbaum, Lauren Elliott, Tish Shute, Otto Leichliter III & IV) that produced the prize winning IoToaster. Rick Merritt did an awesome write up in EE Times, Slideshow: Y Combinator hackathon’s prize-winning designs. If you want to hear more about hardware startups shaping play with connected stuff, I hope you will stop by, Parsing Reality: Shaping Play with Connected Stuff, Tuesday March 12th, 12.30pm -1.30pm, Raddison Town Lake Ballroom, Austin, SXSW 2013. I’m delighted to join, Adam Wilson Founder, Chief Software Architect Orbotix, Dave Bisceglia Co-Founder & CEO The Tap Lab, Phu Nguyen Founder Romotive Inc to talk about shaping play with connected stuff – more details here.

Meanwhile enjoy Rick Merritt’s great write up of IoToaster (reprinted from EE Times).

“Y Combinator hackathon’s prize-winning designs”

“An Internet Toaster, two pair of faux Google glasses and two novel electronic gloves emerged from a hackathon organized by Upverter and hosted by Y Combinator. SAN JOSE, Calif. – Imagine sending an Instagram to your Internet toaster and printing it—on whole wheat or white bread. Imagine creating your own vision for a variant of Google’s Project Glass.

Those were among the 32 projects from more than 130 designers at a recent all-day event organized by and hosted by Y Combinator, a startup incubator in Mountain View, Calif.

Winners took home iPads, Pebble watches, Arduino kits and Raspberry Pi boards after dedicating about 10 hours of their Saturday to hacking on their best ideas. Some took with them hopes of products that could make it to the market or new-formed teams that could be the heart of a new startup. Others just had a good time.

Here’s a look at some of the winners.

Two teams worked on variants of Google’s $1,500 glasses-mounted computer. One team (above) used laser-cut medium-density fibreboard and embedded LEDs that could indicate when the wearer faced north. Another team (below) created Prism, a more thorough knock-off of Google’s concept complete with an embedded display and gesture recognition.

Photos courtesy of Kuy Mainwaring and Sam Wurzel of Octopart.

Printing on whole wheat or white

The IO Toaster (above) is sort of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of social electronics. It’s an Internet-connected combo toaster/printer that creators say can “bring the cloud to your breakfast.”

The team adapted code from an LED matrix to control heat transmission down to the pixel level. They hope to present the device at the Augmented World Expo at SXSW as well as at other hackathons and hardware meetups.

The team included Sam Cuttriss, Josh Cardenas, Tish Shute, Lauren Elliott, Jason Appelbaum and both Otto Leichliter III and IV.

Peripherals and apps for the IO Toaster

The potential for the IO Toaster is great, said team members who brainstormed spin off products including:

  • FaceToast: Your friends’ Facebook status messages pop up automatically at breakfast.
  • Instagram Toast: Patented sepia tone filters add artistic textures to photos (above). Too grainy?
  • Toasted, Augmented Reality: Toast revitalizes boring QR codes (below).
  • Pop Tweets: Twitter toaster pastries. Follow your favorite fruit flavor.
  • FlipToast: Create an edible FlipBook with a carb-hinge technology in development.
  • Angry Toast: A hyper sling and gimble add on hurls slices at kids trying to leave for school without breakfast.

Touch screen toaster displays

Designers of the IO Toaster created this animation to show the romantic possibilities of their product.

Grand prize was a real grabber

The Tactilus is a haptic feedback glove for interacting with 3-D environments. A series of cables applies pressure to the wearer’s fingers to resist their motion in response to pushing against a virtual object.

Meet the Tactilus team

Jack Minardy had the idea to create a haptic glove. Five strangers who stopped by his table and liked the idea became a virtual team for the day, bringing Tactilus to life. They are (from left) Matt Bigarani, Nick Bergseng, Jack Minardy, Neal Mueller and Tom Sherlock. Not pictured: Oren Bennett.

Fitness glove has something up its sleeve

The Body API is a comprehensive metric-gathering device that gives the sports enthusiast a big data boost.

Baby gets a robo rocker

One team prototyped its invention for an automatic baby rocker using an electric can opener. Parents can control it visa a mobile app.

And other winners were…
At the end of the day, 30 groups took two minutes each to pitch their hack (below), some of which judges pitches in the circular file. A handful of others got various levels of recognition.

The winner in the most marketable category was the DIYNot, a plug that fits between your recharging device and the socket to turn off the two amp energy flow anytime you want. The Window Blind Controller, a clip on device that keeps streetlight out in the night and lets sunlight in during the day, got a nod from judges.

Judges also liked the Walkmen, an ultrasound virtual walking stick with haptic feedback for guiding disabled people. A team from Electric Imp got the Corporate Shill Award for a networked dispenser that spits out M&Ms in response to tweets. Another group added Wi-Fi links to home switches opening a circuit for new kinds of remote controls—and pranks.

From here to China and back

Zack Hormuth of (left), organizer for the event, helps hacker Matt Sarnoff. Upverter led a hackathon at Facebook’s Open Compute Summit. It also has hackathons in the works for New York City and Shenzhen.”

Will the human body support some ways of Augmented Reality?

      It is not strange that scientists want to push the limits of technology in the human body. This is, of course, the case of Augmented reality, from which we have recently seen the development of the AR glasses by Google.

      The AR glasses are designed to let users capture video with a built-in camera as well as use downloaded apps, internet, and social networks sites on the move. A small projector displays an image in front of the wearer’s eyes while letting them stay aware on the outside world. The idea is easy, the user is able to see valuable information with no need to bring with him/her another special hardware like a smartphone or even a laptop. Thus, we can even think that the glasses may be an extension of the human body, or the eye, allowing the user to perceive more information with no extra effort, only just looking at the place from where the information is required.

      But as always, there are people that go further (which us very good for science),  and try to push these limits even more. Some of these innovators have developed an Augmented Reality system which can be run over a contact lenses! Their idea is basically that the human eye is a perceptual powerhouse. It can see millions of colors, adjust easily to shifting light conditions, and transmit information to the brain at a rate exceeding that of a high-speed Internet connection. But why stop there?  This is the premise that these unstoppable minds have for conducting such amazing researches.

It is true that all of the aforementioned advances sound very nice, and at a first glance we could even think that this is going to be a change in the way we perceive and interact with the environment but, what about the human body limits? Is it ready to physiologically hold such an amount of information?


-AR contact lenses

Is Augmented Reality a promissing bussiness?

      Nowadays, where the global economic crisis is present in all the countries to a greater or lesser extent, a lot of entrepreneur or companies think on new ways to succeed. Concerning the technology, Augmented Reality may be the fresh air that gives companies the impulse they need to achieve their goals and allow them to breath in such a hard moments.

      Instead of focusing in the chance to create Augmented Reality technologies from scratch, I would like to talk about the integration of this technology in some markets or some sectors where the introduction of an AR system could be an interesting addition. So, let´s remember what is the definition of Augmented Reality: “Augmented Reality is a technology that, unlike Virtual Reality which replaces the real objects by 3D rendered ones, adds extra layers of information over the real world, improving the user´s perception.”. In other words, an Augmented Reality system enables mobile devices’ camera to point at an object and retrieve some information about it. AR overlays what can be seen in plain sight with digital photos, videos, texts or 3D objects, for example.

          In order to know why Augmented Reality could improve your business, we only have to take a look to the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets equipped with electronic compasses, GPS and cameras in last years. If you are an advertiser, or you work for a advertising company, you aim to catch the people attention through the product you offer. AR allows advertisers to bring the possibility to purchase much closer to the advertising stimulus that traditional advertising ways offers.

       Furthermore, according to some sources and studies, about 6 million of Augmented Reality apps were downloaded last year, which is still a small fraction of the overall app market.  But this number is projected to increase to 19 million downloads this year and balloon to nearly a billion by 2016.

      For these main reasons, in the last one or two years there has been a boom in companies  adding Augmented Reality to their products or advertising campaigns, especially a considerable number of big  brands. For this, businesses are racing to incorporate it in as many consumer applications as they can.

      From ARLab, we also think that Mobile Augmented Reality(MAR) will even be a bigger hit, because the meta-data provided by Augmented Reality is being made portable thanks to the continuous development of smartphones and mobile devices.

ARLab will attend to the augmented Planet Event in London.

      At the end of October, exactly on 30th and 31st of this month, will take place an important international event in the field of Augmented Reality, and the UK’s Largest dedicated Augmented Reality conference, where the most relevant companies in the world of AR will be present showing their products. Amongst them, ARLab will also attend to this important event.

Link to the official site of the event.

      Augmented Planet is where people from the AR industry come together with developers and agencies. One member of our staff will speak the first day of this event from 11:15 to 11:45 about the company and its products. Moreover, ARLab will show several innovative products that are not still in the market.

      Apart from the aforementioned new products, developers will be able to check how easy is to integrate our Augmented Reality libraries within their current mobile applications, giving them an easy, fast and intuitive tool to develop new amazing mobile apps.

What can Augmented reality offer?

      A lot of people have already heard, or even seen, some final product or demo that uses augmented reality, and they were impressed by what they saw but, do they really know what Augmented Reality can offer?

      Only the Augmented Reality sub-branch known as Augmented Reality Browser or Augmented Reality Geolocation view is an attractive sector itself, because it offers compelling applications across any sector that comes to mind since it can use geolocated points in order to give the user a better perception of the surroundings. For consumers, it can display the names of hotels and which has a vacancy across the phones’ screens, rates or customers’ feedbacks.  Augmented Reality browsers can also show the location of closest restaurants and their wait times and menus, special offers or even coupons for special prices in that moment.  And a lot of final uses that can place geolocated points in the device’ screen.

       This was in the side of the user but, what about from the brands or companies’ side? Mobile augmented reality offers them a consumer engagement, including social sharing experiences and direct user interaction. With these new ways of interacting with advertisements, companies that decide to use Augmented reality somehow will likely have a bigger impact on customers and thereby advertising campaigns may be more successful. We have already seen some examples of brands using Augmented reality for their customers, like the Virtual Mirror of Rayban, where users are able to try several sunglasses models from their home, only using their computers and webcams. So imagine how the advertising campaigns of the future could be, with interactive media for customers, allowing them to have a perception of the products like if they were really there. This is amazing, isn´t?

      These are only a couple of examples, and they are focused on advertising, but AR has been spread in more fields, like education, medicine or games. Augmented reality is a really cool in technology, which can be used in a wide range of applications, but what is particularly exciting, from a high level point of view, is that technology has evolved to the point that something that seems so futuristic also is highly practical in terms of applications. We could say that there is no gap between what it can really offer nowadays and some futuristic uses that were visioned few years ago.

Next games generation could include Augmented Reality

      In fact, there are video games that already include augmented reality but, generally they are mainly oriented to children . For example we can take a look to the “Eye Pet” developed by Sony, where children can have a “virtual” pet and play with it using only a card that works as target.

       But actually, we want to talk about action games, or sports games, where the introduction of Augmented Reality could lead to new and engaging experiences for gamers. It is not strange to think that the spreading of the Augmented Reality technology will also reach the game industry, due to its wide range of possibilities. Using next coming generations of AR systems, we will be able to map our room, or the environment where we are, and display a huge set of Augmented objects which will give us a more immersive game experience. Apart of improving the direct user´s interaction with the elements of the game by adding new augmented objects that the user is able to play with, AR may enhance the cooperation and the experience of multiplayer games by geolocating elements where the action takes place.

        In order to get this idea, please imagine an action game like the well known “counter strike”, where several users belong to a team and have to kill another game players. Now image that, instead of staying at home, in front of the computer, each player plays outside, and has a device with an AR system integrated that is able to track where each of these players is and show the location of all the players on their devices’ screens. Wouldn´t it be exciting?

        All of this is mostly achievable at the moment. We don’t need complex 3D tracking, but provide the players with a space already prepared (for real) to this purpose. In the glasses, players would be able to see the typical HUD (Head up display), showing things like team scores, bullets left, and radar with the players on it.

        This approach would take videogames to a whole new level… or take the reality to a new level! After all, this is what Augmented Reality is meant to do! Similar things have been done already, (even they weren’t including AR so deeply), but what about taking this to fun fairs? Or imagine going with your friends to play paintball using this new technology!

      Nowadays, videogames are evolving a lot, but the improvements are mainly in graphics quality and interaction level with in-game events (more options, destructible environments, decisions which have an impact on the story…). But the thing here is that the player is always in front of a screen, playing with a controller. There have been also a lot of innovations in the controller field: devices like WiiMote from Nintendo or Kinect from Microsoft, which allows you to use your videogames moving the controllers, or your body. All these are cool technologies, but let’s be honest, nothing like hanging out with your friends for real, and play a “real” videogame!!

      After all, we’re playing videogames with realistic graphics, but what can be more real than reality itself?? Augmented reality only increases the “usability” of reality to make it more enjoyable, or in this subject that we’re talking about, increase the entertainment experience of the players. Also, it would help fighting obesity! Let’s see what we have in a few years to play with!

The evolution of Augmented Reality

In this post I would like to take a look backward and talk about how Augmented Reality began. Nowadays a lot of people know what is Augmented reality but, do they know how it was born?

      Although Virtual Reality is much older than the 1980s or 1970s, older or nearly as old as the entire computer graphics field itself (in fact in 1956, Morton Heilig began designing the first multisensory virtual experiences), it wasn´t until late 1960s when it is considered as the beginnings. In 1968, Ivan Sutherland, an American computer scientist and Internet pioneer,and with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system, which was named The Sword of Damocles. This system used an optical see-through head-mounted display that was tracked by one of two different 6DOF trackers: a mechanical tracker and an ultrasonic tracker. Due to the limited processing power of computers at that time, only very simple wireframe drawings could be displayed in real time. So we can state that the field we now know as virtual reality (promoter of Augmented Reality), a highly multidisciplinary field of computing, emerged from research on three-dimensional interactive graphics and vehicle simulation in the 1960s and 1970s.

      The term “augmented reality” was coined in 1992 to refer to overlaying computer-presented material on top of the real world. Tom Caudell and David Mizell discussed the advantages of Augmented Reality versus Virtual Reality such as requiring less processing power since less pixels had to be rendered.

      From earliest 1990s to present, there have been a lot of new advances and significant improvements in the augmented reality field, not only for desktop solutions but also for mobile devices. Here we will show a short list that shows some of these advances:

-   In 1993, Loomis et al. developed a prototype of an outdoor navigation system for visually impaired.

-   In 1994, Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino wrote their seminal paper “Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays” in which they defined the Reality-Virtuality Continuum. P. Milgram and F. Kishino, “Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays”, IEICE Transactions on Information and Systems, 1994, pp. 1321-1329.

-  In 1995, Jun Rekimoto and Katashi Nagao created the NaviCam, a system that had a camera mounted on the mobile screen that was used for optical tracking. The system displayed some information according to the input that received from the camera image. In this projects color-coded markers were used.

-   2D markers appeared in 1996. Jun Rekimoto introduced these markers based system which allowed camera tracking with 6DOF. Rekimoto, J. (1996). Augmented Reality Using the 2D Matrix Code. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Interactive Systems and Software (WISS’96).

-    In 1997, Ronald T. Azuma’s “A Survey of Augmented Reality” examined the varied uses of augmented reality such as medical, manufacturing, research, mechanical operation and entertainment. Since then any Augmented Reality system has to be identified by three main characteristics:

      1. it combines real and virtual world
      2. it is interactive in real time
      3. it is registered in 3D.

-   In 1999, Hirokazu Kato and Mark Billinghurst presented ARToolKit, a pose tracking library with six degrees of freedom, using square fiducials and a template-based approach for recognition. Since it is an open source library (under the GPL License) it has been, and still is, a very popular Augmented Reality library in the AR community.

-   In late 1999, the first mobile with GPS integrated was released, the Benefon Esc! NT2002 

-   From 2000 and 2004 a lot projects including GPS devices, wireless or LAN PCs communication or even camera processing were developed for research. Amongst these projects we can include RWWW Browser, which can be considered as the first AR Browser.

-   From early 2004, Augmented Reality has experienced the evolution of a lot of promising computer vision algorithms which allow  users, with the integration of powerful 3D render engines, to experience better this Augmented World. For example, markerless image tracking or PTAM techniques are some of these advances. Furthermore, the capabilities of new devices in last years have contributed to the spreading of Augmented Reality, not only in research but also for development and commercial purposes. The progression of AR and MAR has been amazing but it is not the goal of this entry, in which I just wanted to talk a little about the pioneers in the field.

I would like to thank the author of this summarize about the most important milestones in Augmented Reality. The link to this source can be found below.