Augmented Reality

Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Year’s End

Source: New York Times, NICK BILTON | February 21, 2012

People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.

According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected “to cost around the price of current smartphones,” or $250 to $600.

The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the project.

Seth Weintraub, a blogger for 9 to 5 Google, who first wrote about theglasses project in December, and then discovered more information about them this month, also said the glasses would be Android-based and cited a source that described their look as that of a pair of Oakley Thumps.

They will also have a unique navigation system. “The navigation system currently used is a head tilting to scroll and click,” Mr. Weintraub wrote this month. “We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.”

The glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed.

Internally, the Google X team has been actively discussing the privacy implications of the glasses and the company wants to ensure that people know if they are being recorded by someone wearing a pair of glasses with a built-in camera.

The project is currently being built in the Google X offices, a secretive laboratory near Google’s main campus that is charged with working on robots, space elevators and dozens of other futuristic projects.

One of the key people involved with the glasses is Steve Lee, a Google engineer and creator of the Google mapping software, Latitude. As a result of Mr. Lee’s involvement, location information will be paramount in the first version released to the public, several people who have seen the glasses said. The other key leader on the glasses project is Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, who is currently spending most of his time in the Google X labs.

One Google employee said the glasses would tap into a number of Google software products that are currently available and in use today, but will display the information in an augmented reality view, rather than as a Web browser page like those that people see on smartphones.

The glasses will send data to the cloud and then use things like Google Latitude to share location, Google Goggles to search images and figure out what is being looked at, and Google Maps to show other things nearby, the Google employee said. “You will be able to check in to locations with your friends through the glasses,” they added.

Everyone I spoke with who was familiar with the project repeatedly said that Google was not thinking about potential business models with the new glasses. Instead, they said, Google sees the project as an experiment that anyone will be able to join. If consumers take to the glasses when they are released later this year, then Google will explore possible revenue streams.

As I noted in a Disruptions column last year, Apple engineers are also exploring wearable computing, but the company is taking a different route, focusing on computers that strap around someone’s wrist.

Last week The San Jose Mercury News discovered plans by Google to build a $120 million electronics testing facility that will be involved in testing “precision optical technology.”

‘Augmented-reality’ windshields and the future of driving

By Brandon Griggs, CNN
updated 10:16 AM EST, Fri January 13, 2012 | Filed under: Innovations

Las Vegas (CNN) — Imagine a future in which icons flash on your car windshield, hologram style, as your car approaches restaurants, stores, historic landmarks or the homes of friends.

Simply point your hand at them, and the icons open to show real-time information: when that bridge over there was built, what band is playing at that nightclub on the left, whether that new café up the street has any tables available. Wave your hand again, and you’ve made a restaurant reservation.

Mercedes-Benz showed off this vision of the future of driving — complete with augmented-reality and gesture-controlled features — this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

CES is the world’s biggest technology trade show, and carmakers are becoming a bigger presence here. Visitors climbed into a little cockpit at the Mercedes booth and took a brief, interactive and virtual ride through nighttime San Francisco — with the high-tech windshield as a guide.

“Gesture is very intuitive. It’s very natural,” said Vera Schmidt, a user-interface designer with Mercedes who led demonstrations of the technology. “You point at something, and you want to know more about it.”

The technology is still crude, and at least several years away from finding its way into Mercedes vehicles. But it illustrates how automakers, while embracing current computer innovation such as dashboard touchscreens and voice-control interfaces, also are keeping an eye further down the road as well.

As digital tech — and our expectations for it — becomes more mobile, carmakers are taking notice. Many automotive designers here seem to have taken inspiration from smartphones, with their promise of being always connected and their vast menu of apps for every purpose.

“Cars are becoming platforms to participate in the digital world in a fully networked sense, just like your tablets can and your phones can,” said Venkatesh Prasad, a senior technical leader with Ford Motor Co.’s innovation division. “It’s our job to take those computing services people are used to at 0 mph and make them available at 70 mph.”

Yes, that sounds a little scary. And with escalating concerns about the hazards of distracted driving, automakers must walk a fine line between convenience and safety. Automotive engineers are continually trying to simplify their interfaces to cut down on the precious seconds that a driver’s attentions are diverted from the road ahead.

“All of our technology is voice-powered,” Ford product manager Julius Marchwicki told CNN’s sister network HLN. “So instead of fumbling with your phone … you keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”

Sascha Simon, head of advance product planning for Mercedes-Benz USA, agreed: “We determine which apps should be in the car and which shouldn’t. We have these apps integrated in such a way that they’re actually relevant to you.”

For example, say you’re running late to a meeting and can’t call or text while driving. Mercedes’ messaging app will create a menu of logical missives based on your location and your car’s speed — “I’m stuck in traffic,” or “I’m just north of Bakersfield” — and display them on the screen.

You scroll through them and push a button to post the one that fits, instead of having to manually type the words.

Ford this week introduced five new apps for its pioneering Sync hands-free entertainment system, including Roximity, a daily-deals application that provides real-time discounts relevant to a driver’s location. Ford is so committed to morphing its vehicles into digital platforms that the company is recruiting developers to create apps for Sync and plans to open a research lab in Silicon Valley this year.

Meanwhile, Mercedes launched the second generation of its mbrace system, which connects drivers with the Web via customized apps that can be controlled by voice commands or on a dashboard touchscreen. Mbrace is now cloud-based, meaning it’s always connected and its software can automatically update itself.

Not to be outdone, Audi and Kia also have big presences at CES, and both announced updated versions of their Web-based dashboard entertainment systems.

The boldest advancements in automotive tech, however, may be a few years away. All the major car companies are working on systems that would allow vehicles to talk to each other about road conditions, weather and traffic snarls. For example, a car swerving to avoid a tire in the road could send an instant message alerting surrounding vehicles to the hazard.

Ford also is developing technology that takes a more holistic approach to driver safety and welfare. Instead of focusing on preventing collisions, for example, a car could help diabetic drivers by employing wireless sensors to monitor their glucose levels, said Gary Strumolo, Ford manager of vehicle design and infotronics.

Or a car could help allergy sufferers by monitoring for high-pollen areas, then recirculating air within the vehicle instead of pulling it in from the outside, he said.

Kia is testing something called the “user-centered driving concept,” which would emphasize safety by employing an infra-red LED and camera to monitor the driver’s face for alertness. The system would recognize whether the driver’s eyes are opened or closed, safeguarding against an accident caused by the driver falling asleep.

All these advancements may make driving more interesting. Or they may spoil one of modern society’s last refuges from the hyper-connected digital world.

Either way, they are coming soon.

“We’re working on a new generation of vehicles that truly serve as digital companions,” said Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, in a keynote speech at CES. “They learn your habits, adapt to your choices, predict you moves and interact with your social network.”

Patent suggests augmented reality coming to Maps and Compass apps

By by Chris Rawson Aug 19th 2011

According to Patently Apple, a new patent application from Apple suggests the company is interested in baking augmented reality functions into the iPhone’s built-in Maps and Compass apps. In one implementation suggested by the patent, users could take a picture of their surroundings and perform a navigational search based on the image, including turn-by-turn directions.

Apple’s augmented reality function would overlay information on the iPhone screen’s image, giving users data on objects they’re currently viewing such as streets, buildings, and so forth. Building from there, the patent essentially describes a GPS navigator that feeds off input from the camera and overlays information in real-time.

Many third party apps have come out utilizing augmented reality functions in one form or another, but what the patent describes sounds like some pretty futuristic stuff. Standalone GPS devices and even the Maps app on the iPhone do a decent job of giving directions, but there’s still an abstraction layer between the user and the real environment with these interfaces. This new augmented reality navigator would go a long way toward paring away the more abstract portions of navigation.

The standard patent caveat applies: since this is only a patent application, there’s no guarantee this will ever actually debut on one of Apple’s devices. However, given the functions described and the already powerful capabilities of the iPhone’s hardware and OS, I don’t see any reason why this function wouldn’t eventually find its way to market. Maybe it’s something to look forward to in iOS 6 next year.

Augemented Reality App for NBA Playoffs

NBA tickets and mobile technology are about to form an even closer relationship, thanks to the folks at Qualcomm and the entrepreneurial genius of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban and Qualcomm are delivering an augmented reality experience to this year’s NBA playoff tickets for the Dallas Mavs.

Beginning tomorrow, April 2nd, tickets will go on sale for the first two Mavericks home games of the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

According to Qualcomm, fans will notice that there’s something dramatically different about these NBA playoff tickets. If you’ve downloaded the “Mavs AR” app from the Android marketplace, simply point your Android phone at the front of the special commemorative 2011 Mavs Playoff ticket.

What happens next? You’ll embark upon an interactive, augmented reality mobile gaming experience featuring some of the biggest names on the Mavs roster, like stars Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.

For Cuban, the foray into augmented reality for NBA tickets represents what may very well just be the beginning of his ballclub’s widening embrace of mobile technologies in the NBA fan experience.

For more info on the Dallas Mavs’ AR playoff tickets, click here.

A new report from research and advisory firm Forrester Research Inc. says mobile marketing investments will surpass $1 billion this year as marketers begin to see returns on their investments from consumers buying more via mobile.

The report, “Mobile Trends 2011,” also predicts mobile will combine with social and local services through programs like Facebook Places to gain significant traction over standalone location-based services. However, it says that ad revenue from such services will be cut short because of privacy concerns.

The report, written by Forrester analysts Thomas Husson and Julie Ask, also predicts companies planning to reach large audiences via mobile apps will continue to face a fragmented market with a wide variety of mobile devices, operating systems and screen sizes.

The report also forecasts:

  • The term mobile will mean a lot more than mobile phones. Tablets such as Apple Inc.’s iPad will emerge as a category of their own in the years to come. However, the report says only mobile phones will sell in the hundreds of millions and are truly “pocketable,” providing anywhere/anytime connectivity.
  • 2011 will be the year of “the dumb smartphone user.” Because of deep discounts, smartphones will be available to the masses. That, Forrester says, means new smartphone owners will be less engaged and active than earlier Android and iPhone owners. However, thanks to customer education and the convenience that such sophisticated devices offer, even so-called “dumb smartphone users” will consume massive amounts of mobile media and data.
  • NFC, augmented reality and Quick Response, or QR, two-dimensional bar codes will finally reach their tipping points. Technologies such as QR codes and mobile augmented reality, which uses the capabilities of a mobile phone to enhance a presentation, such as using the smartphone’s GPS to identify a consumer’s location and then displaying through the device’s camera view a coupon to a nearby store, are already helping bridge the real and digital worlds via mobile devices, Forrester says. And the report predicts 2011 will finally be the year that Near Field Communication (NFC) begins to matter for mobile. The market will start to move away from the pilot stage in regions where NFC infrastructure is in place, Forrester says. “There is already quite a bit of this happening in Japan,” says Ask. “More of it will occur with education with consumers in the U.S. and Europe. We’re at the very, very beginning of consumers beginning to understand these use cases with their customers.” NFC is a technology that enables phones (or other items, such as credit cards) to interact with objects—such as posters and payment terminals—over a distance of a few inches.

Several media outlets last week reported that Apple is working on adding NFC mobile payment capabilities to the forthcoming iPhone 5. Companies such as Isis have launched over the past year aiming to enable shoppers to use NFC technology to pay with their phones in stores. Isis is backed by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, which together provide wireless services to more than 200 million U.S. consumers.

Augmented Reality-Enabled Mobile Apps Are Key to AR Growth

from ABI Research, NEW YORK – February 11, 2011

Mobile Augmented Reality (AR) – today epitomized by the overlay of useful information on real-world views seen through a mobile phone’s camera viewfinder – has the potential to transform mobile marketing, online search, tourism, retail, social networking and much more. So far, however, mobile AR is mostly a novelty. The key to real AR market growth, says a new study from ABI Research, is to embed AR into a wide range of apps running on a variety of devices.

According to senior analyst Mark Beccue, “The market for AR barely exists today: 2010 revenue amounted to only $21 million. But if the market develops as we expect, it will generate more than $3 billion in 2016.”

But the AR market won’t get there if it is limited only to dedicated AR apps such as early entrants Layar and Wikitude. Mobile AR functionality and capabilities will improve rapidly and new platforms are emerging to enable app developers to build AR capabilities into all types of apps. This movement will rapidly advance the growth of mobile AR.

How would AR work within other apps? A couple of examples:

·         Navigation: while using a navigation app, you point the phone’s camera at an interesting building. Click on a superimposed “Info” label, and historical info appears.

·         Retail: you are in a big-box retailer, using its proprietary app. Aim the phone-camera at a product, and get information or a 3D demonstration.
“Some say that mobile AR has the potential to become our ‘zero-click interface’ to the ‘Internet of Things’, where many common objects have associated data,” Beccue notes.
Practice director Neil Strother adds: “There is a major opportunity here for retail. It’s also likely that Apple and Google will buy or develop AR engines/platforms as development tools for third-party developers to embed AR capabilities into a broad range of apps. Other players (particularly Mobile Network Operators) could even beat Apple and Google to the punch.”
ABI Research’s new “Mobile Augmented Reality” study examines the drivers and barriers involved in mobile AR, identifies key opportunities for potential players and outlines the core business cases. Critical forecasts include revenue and app downloads.

Augmented Reality for the Enterprise – SAP Employee Unveils Prototype

SAP employee Timo Elliott has unveiled a prototype for an augmented reality business intelligence iPhone app. He emphasizes that it’s a prototype, not a supported product. It’s not available for download yet, but Elliott gives us a look at what an augmented enterprise could look like. Elliot released some proof-of-concept mock-ups on his blog earlier this year (see our coverage), but the project is now in development at SAP in the BusinessObjects Innovation Center, which Elliot says is based on Google Labs.

The app prototype enables users to mashup location information with any sort of corporate data available in an enterprise’s BusinessObjects OnDemand account. The use case Elliot demonstrates is locating the nearest customers and displaying supplemental information.

Mashing up location data with CRM data has obvious, if limited, benefit – but what other sorts of uses are possible? The current limitation of the app is the precision of location based services. Elliot’s previous mock-ups presented some extremely interesting use cases that would require considerably greater precision:

Imagine pointing a smart phone at a piece of equipment or merchandise and pulling up information about it from an ERP system, and being able to update that information from the same interface.

What could really be useful for enterprises is the intersection of augmented reality with the Internet of ThingsGoogle Goggles can already recognize objects (and people), but what sort of use cases would open up if an AR app could identify individual objects and communicate with the objects themselves?

Written by Klint Finley / July 27, 2010 / ReadWrite Enterprise

8 Unique mobile abilities

  1. Personal mass medium
  2. Permanently connected
  3. Always carried
  4. Built in payment channel
  5. Available at creative impulse
  6. Has most accurate audience
  7. Captures social context
  8. Enables augmented reality