Samsung’s Galaxy Tab dabbles with augmented reality

Seems Samsung is moving further into augmented reality, shown briefly in the video embedded below along with some other typical iPaddish features. Looks pretty good from where I’m standing—looking forward to seeing the price when it hits the shelves.

The Galaxy Tab was unveiled this Thursday and the fellas over at PC World already have a nice comparison chart for iPad vs. GT. The tablet runs Google’s Android operating system, version 2.2.

Here’s to hoping that the AR features will make Apple push extra hard to unveil the augmented reality software that I’m sure they’ve been working on for at least 3 years.

levelHead – Augmented reality puzzle game

Despite coming of age; this demo remains one of my favorite examples of augmented reality applications. This one uses your computers camera (or an external one, no mobile versions that I know of) to view a cube with markers attached to each side. Through naked eyes, it’s a paper cube with cryptic symbols—but with the aid of cameras and computer program; digital metamorphosis produces something entirely different.

If you still haven’t already succumbed to skipping my ramblings—go watch the demo of levelHead by Julian Oliver! (embedded video below.)

levelHead Video

levelHead v1.0, 3 cube speed-run (spoiler!) from Julian Oliver on Vimeo.

Main points of fascination

  • Physical object interaction; virtual worlds are dependent- and intertwined with physical objects (the cubes) in the environment. (Opposed to displaying virtual objects that have no connection to reality, which in my opinion is removing the “reality” out of “augmented.)
  • The cube, simple as it is, gives the impression of a gateway into an entirely different world.
  • Simplicity. With the environment shaded and lit, the flat white character is simple and adds a mysterious touch to the experience.
  • The cube is the controller as well as viewer; an intuitive solution for containing the game experience entirely within a simple paper cube.
  • The game is easy to replicate if desired; all you need is the right program and a paper cube with printouts.
  • Considering the Future: Remember Myst? I can easily envision an entire game in that style: purely contained within a paper cube, or even interchangeable shapes such as orbs or other simple ones for different environments (perhaps even a few in-game tools).

LevelHead information excerpt

Using tilt motions, the player moves a character through rooms that appear inside one of several cubes on a table. Each room is logically connected by a series of doors, though some doors lead nowhere (they are traps).

The player has 2 minutes to find the exit of each cube, leading the character into the entrance of the next.

Work is also being done to use invisible markers such that the cube itself appears entirely white to the naked eye.

Visit the project page of Julian Oliver’s levelHead

Thanks for an inspirational game concept, Julian!

Latest version of LittleDog from CLMC and Boston Dynamics (video)

LittleDog from Boston Dynamics and CLMC at USC doing an obstacle courseOur last look BigDog from at Boston Dynamics, most agreed that its movements were beginning to look eerily life-like. The latest version of LittleDog, shown in the video below, is nothing short of breathtaking. Six teams were provided with the LittleDog chassis and funding; this version contains AI software created by the Computational Learning and Motor Control Lab at USC (specific project webpage). See the video after the jump.

Google Goggles – Photo recognition in real-time for augmented reality info

Here’s something fresh from Google’s oven: the Google Goggles app for Android phones. Despite my let down when I realized they weren’t real Goggles, this is a mark of things getting interesting. Mobile AR apps are mutating and shifting into various forms and possibilities of the tech are certainly starting to form a big picture in the heads of developers. It’s here to stay allright.

The image recognition tech sounds exciting—image search and recognition in real time! I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google and Apple go heads on in a bloodsport match as they race towards the AR advertising market (incidentally bringing with them a wave of exciting apps and even AR goggle interfaces. Real ones.).

But, it’s best to let the video do the talking (read: I’m lazy). Here’s Google Goggles.

If you’re having trouble seeing the video, either visit the post or go directly to YouTube.

Intelligent systems of 1993; Hrafn visits the MIT Media Lab

My Reykjavik University Aperio advisor surprised me yesterday when he mentioned how cool I was in that YouTube video. I had no idea what the hell he was going on about and made an expression similar to those in surprise-photo-shoots. As the expression wore off he explained my brother had uploaded a video of my visit to the MIT Media Lab in 1993. At the time he was working on multi-modal AI systems, which I happily agreed to test—the result of which is in the video below =)

The Advanced Human Interface Group (AHIG), MIT Media Lab. The ICONC System, demonstrated by Hrafn Th. Thorisson, Summer 1993. The system enabled the use of co-occurring, natural speech and gesture to interactively describe the arrangement and movements of objects in a room. The computer would interpret the user’s actions and figure out which objects the user was talking about and how to arrange them based on spatial information in the user’s speech and gesture. [Excerpt from the YouTube description, continued below]

[If you can't see the video, click here to visit the post]

The main authors of this work were David Koons (spatial knowledge, multimodal integration) and Carlton Sparrell (gesture recognition), directed by Richard A. Bolt. This technology is described in part in the paper “Integrating simultaneous input from speech, gaze, and hand gestures” by D B Koons, C J Sparrell, K R Thorisson (1993).

UPDATE (Oct. 30th, 2009): The article stated, wrongly, that this took place in 1994. This has been corrected.

Links & references

Layar’s augmented reality to go 3D in November [Videos]

The now famed Layar announced yesterday that it’s planning a major addition to their augmented reality platform: an ability to view 3D objects, animation and place 3D tags on buildings, etc. The addition is scheduled to be released in November, allowing 500+ developers to play with it through API.

Layar's application showing correctly oriented 3D text placed on a building

Looks like Layar is going to keep their lead in the field; from their press release:

Layar 3D makes use of OpenGL, the accelerometer, the GPS and the compass of the phone. Developers can place 3D objects in their content layers based on coordinates. Objects can be optimized in size and orientation to create an immersive and realistic experience. The 3D capabilities support live downloading and rendering of 3D objects. Actions such as “open link” or “play music” can be assigned to 3D objects. [Press release]

Looking forward to early results from the minds of their developers.

Embedded videos after the jump

Layar’s Augmented Reality Web for mobiles: finally layered information

Finally. An augmented reality application of superb execution. Layar is a Google Android OS application and an iPhone 3G S version on its way. Publicly announced on June 14th by Dutch company SPRXMobile. Many AR apps have hit the scene since Wikitude AR Travel Guide first appeared in November 2008—but Layar ups the stakes by being able to hide and show different types of information.
Layar application running a real-estate guide on an Android/HTC mobile phone

Augmented reality games, but what’s reality doing there?

Kweekies is a new augmented reality game that’s tuned to hit iPhones, Nokia Smartphones and Windows Mobile sometime this summer.

Created by int13 the game is marker based (meaning that the software uses pattern on a paper to know how the world is oriented) and features some cute cuddly Pokémon-styled creatures that you train and control (to fight). See the embedded videos below.

Subscribers: Visit the post if your reader doesn’t display videos

Augmenting reality to ignore reality

Love of the AR concept leaves me blind to shortcomings, but my girlfriend stayed vigilant and posed an observation: How does AR enhance this particular game? And she’s spot on.

Other than providing a flat surface, the real, physical environment plays no part at all in Kweekies’ gameplay. Making that surface virtual would provide more or less the same experience and remove the need to lug around a fragile piece of paper with inkblots on it (can it even be folded without producing errors?). But it does look cool, I’ll give it that. The portal concept and design is nice even though it looks like it’s just bling. Maybe Valve could do something functional there.

Is augmented reality in virtual reality’s footsteps?

This does beg the question whether primitive AR implementations will cause people to write them off as ‘cool… but pointless‘, thereby slowing down AR development. After all, that happened to virtual reality in the 1990′s: creating viable consumer products was impossible but we still made some primitive demos that spread hype like a nuclear shockwave. Time passed. The only things that remained exciting were machines with sky-high pricetags that even game arcades could hardly afford. Public demand decreased and VR R&D crawled out of sight and into the shadowy corners of labs, hospitals, military bases. By the time we had everything to make killer consumer products (ca. 2005)—people had lost all interest.

But maybe the masses will love all AR applications regardless? They’re cool, there will be others like Wikitude that’ll do practical stuff. One of the most popular iPhone games is a ‘yo momma’ joke generator. So who knows?

[Kweekies via VR Geek Blog]

Humanoid robot Motoman assembles a camera

Motoman-sda10 looking sharpThis robot, named Motoman-SDA10, is a versatile humanoid industrial robot currently on display at the International Next-Generation Robot Fair. He’s intended to serve both at the factory or at a workplace alongside humans. It’s an industrial robot so I couldn’t find any indication of vision, hearing or other sensors to make it more aware of its environment, so we can expect it to work in safe distance from humans until one of us provides that Change He Needs.

Read on for videos and specs.

Wikitude AR – Augmented reality on Google Android

It’s been a while since the last post and I’m afraid it’s going to be like that for some time, mainly due to business, school and of course our dreaded economic uncertainties. It’s rare that I simply sit down and post, I usually mull over things for a few days and read up on the subject. But between the upcoming US elections and Iceland’s economic canary-in-the-mine situation, there hasn’t been much left to fuel my writing. So for now we’ll have to settle for slim posts.

Now, the Wikitude AR Travel Guide, created by Mobilizy, is an augmented reality application for the G1/Google Android. Judging from the video demonstration, the graphical overlay is quite a few notches smoother than Enkin.

According to Mobilizy’s website Wikitude should already available—but I didn’t find it in the Android Market, and the few 3rd party reviewers I looked at didn’t showcase the AR function. Perhaps there are two versions? In any case, reality is inching closer to augmentation.

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