SANTA CLARA, Calif.--To an unenlightened observer, Ron Haidenger's demonstration of playing a video game by tilting a piece of cardboard back and forth looks more than a little bit nutty.
But to anyone wearing his company's computer-enhanced glasses, which seamlessly delete the image of the cardboard and replace it with a metal ball spinning through a gleaming three-dimensional maze, it's a near-hypnotic experience.
"The response no matter where we show it is phenomenal," says Haidenger, manager of Vuzix's consumer division. "There's a huge hunger in the market for AR hardware."
AR is, of course, short for "augmented reality." The concept isn't entirely new: it's crept into public consciousness in the last few years in the form of those virtual yellow line markers in broadcasts of football games and heads-up displays in some cars.
But a new crop of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists has more ambitious plans. They gathered here this week in the Santa Clara Convention Center for a conference that's not called one--the official title is the first Augmented Reality Event--to come up with concepts that will convince all but the most technophobic that they should be looking at the world through a new set of spectacles. … Read more
Mobilizy, maker of the Wikitude augmented-reality apps for iPhone, Android, and Nokia phones, has announced Wikitude Drive, the first augmented-reality turn-by-turn navigation app for Android phones (OS version 1.6 or greater). The app utilizes the phone's camera and GPS receiver in tandem, layering the selected route over a live view of what's ahead of the car. Sort of like Google Maps' Street View, but in real time.
The Wikitude Drive app entered limited beta Thursday for the first 2,000 downloads from the Android Market. Once the app hits the 2,000 mark, it will be pulled … Read more
Hate trolling through property listings? You can now whip out your smartphone and use an augmented-reality app to see what's on the market.
Junaio is a free AR app for iPhone 3GS and Android devices that overlays real-estate information on camera views. Users point their phones at a building, street, or neighborhood and relevant data such as monthly rent, photos, and contact details pop up.
Junaio can highlight properties within a radius of several miles. Map views and list views are also available.
Wonder how that bright yellow watchband will look on your pasty wrist? Swiss watchmaker Tissot has launched an application that lets consumers try on various styles at home--digitally, in 3D.
Users just download the app, put on a cardboard cut-out watch template, and hold their wrist in front of a Webcam to try on watches and change models, colors, and styles from Tissot's Touch collection.
The app, which is compatible with PCs and Intel-based Macs, also lets consumers experiment with the touch-screen features on Tissot watches, including the diver functionality of the Sea-Touch model. As shoppers try on a … Read more
Having trouble picturing what that Lego monster castle/spaceship/robot will look like when assembled? Lego is rolling out augmented-reality store displays that show shoppers, in 3D animation, what a completed kit will look like. The move follows other toy makers bringing AR to action figures and baseball cards. I'm waiting for cereal boxes in my supermarket to start spewing 3D cornflakes.
When customers hold a box up … Read more
Sure, it's great when that hot avatar gives you a hug in Second Life, but wouldn't it be even better if you could actually feel the embrace? Researchers from Japan are demonstrating a motorized haptic device that lets you experience real-time virtual hugs by physically reproducing the pressure felt on the chest and back when someone gives you a squeeze.
Getting a hug that moves beyond the basic emoticon requires donning a kind of harness adorned with soft fabric hands that envelop the wearer in a warm faux embrace. But the HaptiHug is only one of the affective garments included in the I_FeelIM ("I feel therefore I am") system, which uses software to extract emotional meaning from written text and pass it on to one of a number of haptic devices that react accordingly.
The speaker-enabled HaptiHeart, for example, emits palpable heartbeat-like patterns to evoke sadness, anger, and fear. The vibrating HaptiButterfly and HaptiTickler, worn around the abdomen, are supposed to create feelings akin to nervous, joyous belly flutters. And the HaptiShiver and HaptiTemper are aimed at boosting fear emotions by, respectively, sending shivers up and down the wearer's spine by way of vibrating motors and producing spine chills via a fan blowing cool air. … Read more
For certain brands, a "social media strategy" consisting of a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account is last year's model.
One of the trends you tend to see at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSWi) in Austin, Texas, is that it's where big, nontech brands show up to test edgy social-media marketing initiatives in the ultimate geek test bed. A brand we'll be seeing a lot of at this year's SXSWi, which starts Thursday, is the General Motors-owned Chevy.
A sponsor of the festival, Chevy is going all-out with just about every … Read more
You know a new technology has reached the big time--or jumped the shark, depending on your perspective--when someone builds a conference around it.
So the Tuesday announcement of the Augmented Reality Event, billed as the world's first commercial event about that technology, is the official sign that the times are a-changin' for AR.
Of course, anyone can cobble together a conference, and just because it exists there are no guarantees that it will be any good, or feature anyone worth listening to. But the folks behind the Augmented Reality Event have at the very least scored a coup with … Read more