The Ontario Augmented Reality Network (OARN) at their annual conference recently and I was fortunate enough to attend. The main thrust of the conference was to look how augmented reality (AR) is currently being used and how we can use it in the future. An ongoing theme from the day is what are the cultural implications of AR and what non-cultural impacts does the technology have.

Without further ado, here are the notes I took over a month after the actual conference:

Bruce Sterling‘s keynote

  • He has a lot of AR stuff on his Wired blog
  • He mentioned the new aesthetic, which is not referenced often enough for me.
  • He loves the Gartner hype cycle and Layar (the AR companies are still around and making money). See Digifest 2012 notes.
  • We’re on the downward slope right now and most implementations of AR are more like interactive design elements.
  • Claims the future is all HUD. When he recently tried an AR HUD he got “simulation sickness”
  • In Hollywood they make the sets in fully 3d then the director can see the set before its made, insanely practical.
  • Nokia’s “collapse is the biggest failure in the tech industry.”
  • The technical boundaries are seething that only programmers care about, consumers don’t care abut the technical boundaries. Consumers don’t see boundaries as their impression of computers and computer enhanced vision is altered influenced by the movies
  • I need to look into the PlaceRaider app that hijacks a phone that can create a 3d model from random photos
  • Intel wants more AR on a pc to sell more chips that suck more juice
  • He wants omnipresent registration systems for AR but never mentioned privacy concerns (except for the spying app)
  • When asked about surveillance he says that people are subtitled if they are doing wrong things. “If these are issues you need to engage with a technical literate political people ” Would love to see him go up against Steve Mann. (I have no idea what this notes means, but I’m not going to remove it as I’m sure it means something)
  • Aside: he gave his presentation using paper notes and a PDF of only images.

Noteworthy projects:
This list doesn’t include the “traditional AR” (that term was used throughout OARN and I love the thought of that term in an industry less than 5 years old) of image overlays as there are many examples of that.

Digital Delta design makes junaio which is a AR browser for iOS

  • This is very practical for showing off locations that area unique or is closed access to public. Showing medical facilities

Rob MacDougall from western

  • He made Tecumseh Lies Here using open source tools
  • One part of the game had people physically move a box to a specific location to unlock it
  • Incorporate the modern hardware into a story about the past
  • The plaque is a lie – look into augmented plaques that subvert the original plaques

XMG Studios

  • Ghostbusters uses the four square API, they built it as a tech showcase more than anything
  • Designed for 180 degrees instead of having the person spin around
  • Augmented reality 1.0 is ghostbusters, placing games over the world
  • 2.0 is virtual tag, multiplayer FPS, physics based angry birds style, all multiplayer really (that’s the Wii U)
  • 3.0 is the future 5+ years virtual and real avatars meet. Essentially second life in reality, which is reality? It’s Snow Crash
  • Find it isn’t working well with freemium model, not as many design opportunities to tap into
  • Little Android presence, iOS users 3-4x more profitable, piracy is a concern

Helen Papagiannis

  • A designer, PhD researcher and artist specializing in AR
  • Her blog on AR.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

  • All these AR tools can be used for fast 3d modelling, will the future of modellers be in p
  • Most speakers think that the capability to make augmented reality experiences is there and now we need the artists and other creators to get on board.
  • I think it comes down to engaging story over technical limits, but there are technical limits that still exist which impede people from using AR. The main problem is there is no standard device or app.
  • Vuzix is already making “smartglasses”, I wonder how this compares to the google effort. Vuzix has lost money (~3 million) three years in a row.
  • Most AR things discussed seem focused on individual interaction with little to no group/shared experiences. Maybe the big thing in AR will be able to create a large group experience and an individual one at the same time.
  • There are no standards in AR, there’s no HTML equivalent everything’s custom. This will slow adoption of the technology, but the technology is changing so quickly that standards are nearly impossible to write. Give it time.
  • AR is great for doctor training, can get the look and feel of bodies. Haptics are insanely important to this.
  • We should be able to use AR to make cramped spaces feel more open; a small apartment can feel like a mansion.

Tools to create AR experiences: