Augmented reality isn't a new technology, but its growing emergence has given developers and retailers an innovative manner to approach customers.
Startup companies such as Blippar, Daqri, Layar, Sayduck, and Waygo are developing niche augmented reality apps and services - and bigger companies are dumping more research funds into seeing how to integrate AR into customer offerings.
Moving forward, the regular augmented reality market is expected to grow 30 percent year-over-year during the next four years - and the mobile augmented reality will top $1 billion annually by 2015 - as consumers, developers, and companies willing to try using augmented reality.
If nothing else, augmented reality should see critical growth among businesses trying to help employees become more efficient. Smartphones, tablets, and head-mounted displays are opening the door to augmented reality, though software and app development aren't immersive enough to get most business decision makers to pull the trigger.
However, as head-mounted displays become more familiar - along with increased smartphone and tablet saturation - companies are able to test augmented reality apps. For example, decision makers hope employees in the field, at the office, or on production floors can use augmented reality to enhance work flows and day-to-day operations.
The mobile augmented reality industry is expected to top $1 billion annually by 2015, as more businesses embrace the emerging technology. Analysts have pegged the industry with an estimated growth of 30 percent per year over the next four years, though cost and functionality will also need to increase.
Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) hope to push the augmented reality and wearable electronics market to the next level with its K-Glass product. The device is a hand-mounted display and if the wearer walks up to a restaurant, the daily menu and 3D images of food are displayed.
Based on sound, video, graphics, and GPS, K-Glass users suddenly are thrust into an interactive and live virtual environment.
"HMDs will become the next mobile device, eventually taking over smartphones," said Hoi-Jun Yoo, KAIST Professor of Electrical Engineering, in a statement. "Their markets have been growing fast, and it's really a matter of time before mobile users will eventually embrace an optical see-through HMD as part of their daily use. Through augmented reality, we will have richer, deeper, and more powerful reality in all aspects of our life from education, business, and entertainment to art and culture."
There is a significant amount of interest in augmented reality, though consumers are still patiently waiting to see how the hardware and software apps continue to develop.
Annual revenues from mobile augmented reality technology will eclipse $1.2 billion by 2015, according to Juniper Research, as the market continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
The mobile AR market reached just $180 million in 2013, as consumers and businesses become more familiar with mobile applications and services available. Specifically, video games, which accounted for 40 percent of AR downloads last year will help drive the industry in 2014 and 2015, respectively, though entertainment, lifestyle, and enterprise AR also is slated to increase.
As more companies appreciate the importance of mobile technologies, brands such as Nestle, Heinz, Uniliver, and other major corporations want to use AR to engage customers.
Juniper Research warned that AR supporters need to help continue sharing benefits to consumers - especially with the industry already fragmenting from varying levels of product development.
The U.S. Army plans to utilize augmented reality technologies in its efforts to better prepare soldiers for training and missions. Companies with developed AR-related solutions that can be used by individual soldiers - or as a team - can respond to the Army Contracting Command's recent Sources Sought notice.
As military budget spending has spiraled out of control, there is growing interest in augmented reality and virtual reality-related projects that will help reduce spending. Newer technologies open the door for more sophisticated, realistic training programs that help leading up to the battlefield.
The U.S. military has embraced AR research and development prior to it becoming a more commonly spoken about practice in the consumer market. The Department of Defense (DoD) is working with Innovega on the iOptik augmented reality contact lenses with customized head-up display (HUD).
The United States market for augmented reality is expected to grow by 30 percent per year until 2018, as more users become familiar with AR products, according to TechSci Research. Moving forward, the video game industry will push AR forward and will usher in a new era of consumer AR product development.
Although relatively new to the consumer market, government defense contractors have the largest market share - and continue to push forward with the demand of new head-mounted displays (HMD) HUDs. In 2012, California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois dominated the market by pushing demand.
In United States HMDs and HUDs market, Delphi Automotive, Denso Corp., Johnson and Controls, BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins are currently the leading market players,"said Karan Chechi, TechSci Research's Director, in a statement. Google, Vuzix, Ad-Dispatch and Layar are the major players in AR smart glasses and apps market, however, with the growing shipments of smartphones and tablet PCs, other players such as Sony, Microsoft and Oakley are expected to make significant contributions over the next five years."
Indeed, as more companies continue to jump on the AR bandwagon, there should be a lot of fun and innovative technologies demoed in the future.
Telepresence company Digital Video Enterprises (DVE) has teamed up with Microsoft to demo the DVE Immersion Room, a new holographic presentation room. During the demo, Microsoft Windows is floating in the middle of the room and visitors are able to interact with the OS using video objects that are floating in mid-air.
The company also has its newest generation of telepresence technology in which Microsoft Lync coupled with DVE's program provides HD images of life-size people in the room. Telepresence is still in its infancy, but shows great potential for remote video conferences that provide users with a life-like meeting experience.
"We have predicted that software based conferencing will transform enterprise communication and now we are able to power the best telepresence experience in the world from a Windows PC, notebook, and even a Surface Pro tablet," said Jeff Machtig, DVE co-founder, in a statement.
DVE is now showing off the new technology in its showrooms, as businesses are showing interest in newer, innovative ways to communicate.
The fascination surrounding augmented reality will yield countless potential users in the consumer and enterprise markets, with AR adoption on the rise, businesses can use the budding technology to complement and enhance internal business processes, according to the Gartner research group.
Using AR to help identify potential workplace hazards, for example, could lead to a safer and more productive office or production facility. Location-based and computer aided vision is still developing, and it will take time for business to jump onboard, but there is great potential in the years to come.
"AR is most useful as a tool in industries where workers are either in the field, do not have immediate access to information, or jobs that require one or both hands and the operator's attention," said Tuong Huy Nguyen, Gartner principal research analyst, in a media statement. "As such, the impact on weightless industries is lower because these employees often have constant and direct access to the information they need (such as knowledge workers)."
The Oculus VR won the 2014 Best of CES prize after showing off its Rift prototype, a wearable electronics headset with AMOLED-based display and 1920x1080 resolution. CES is over and the industry looks ahead to a busy 2014, in which AR interest will continue to increase at a rapid pace - expect to see these technologies hit the market throughout the year.
Facial visualization company ModiFace now benefits from rising interest in 3D augmented reality, as the company develops its 3D Augmented Reality Makeup and Anti-Aging Mirror. The proprietary software uses either an internal or external web camera - or standalone kiosk - to allow women to virtually test cosmetic colors, and skincare product effects.
"Our new 3D Beauty Mirror is a marketing breakthrough for retailers and beauty brands, particularly for cosmetic counters," said KyungMoon Lee, ModiFace Director of Engineering, in a statement. "Shoppers who would otherwise walk by without stopping can be instantly drawn in and experiment with shades and effects virtually even if they don't have the time for a hands-on makeup session or if a salesperson is busy with another customer."
ModiFace already has a number of apps available to consumers, including digital makeover programs for a number of different cosmetics. The new 3D makeup and anti-aging beauty mirror can be used with touchscreen monitors or on tablets and mobile devices directly in the store - providing a unique way to interact with customers.
During the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Epson announced its second-generation Moverio BT-200 smart glasses that include a transparent display, head motion tracking, and Wi-Fi. The BT-200 also has a built-in camera, 960x540 resolution, microSDHC card slot, and Bluetooth 3.0 - and will be released this March with a $699 MSRP.
Epson released the Moverio BT-100 first-generation smart glasses in 2011, when the technology was still in relative infancy compared to today.
"The Epson Moverio BT-200 smart glasses offer consumers crystal clear video as well as access to incredible new augmented reality experiences and relevant information according to their personal interests and needs," said Atsunari Tsuda, Epson Visual Products Division GM, in a statement.
Smart glasses and augmented reality continue to increase in popularity, with CES 2014 expected to see a number of augmented reality announcements.
The Oculus Rift is in my opinion, one of the biggest game changing pieces of technology to hit the PC gaming world since the introduction of the discrete GPU. Until now though, the Rift has officially been slated for the PC, but this morning a new report has surfaced that suggest we will be seeing a mobile friendly version quite soon.
Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe spoke earlier this week at the GamesBeat conference held by VentureBeat, and during his speech, Iribe said that his company has plans to launch a production version of the Oculus Rift that is both PC and Mobile compatible. He went on to say that the this version would be lighter and smaller in size than the existing developer units, and that it would be compatible with any device running the Android OS.
Iribe says that Id Software founder and Oculus CTO John Carmack has been working on the mobile side of things and that development is coming along quite nicely. "We have some exciting plans on the mobile VR side as [well as] the PC VR side,' Iribe said. 'We're really looking at hitting the consumer market. We're very excited about what we're seeing," Iribe said. "We were sceptical about how good mobile VR could be on such a small platform, but it's pretty incredible what Carmack has been able to do."
Earlier this week, I reported on a new project from Jeri Ellsworth and her new company, Technical Illusions. CastAR is a new augmented reality gaming system that was partially developed by Ellsworth and partner Rick Johnson while working at Valve. When Gabe Newell decided to terminate their employment, the pair struck out on their own to create the next generation of gaming.
The team launched a Kickstarter campaign just three days ago and has as of this morning, surpassed their funding goal of $400,000 by an additional $106,000. With 27 days to go, the project has ample time to reach their stretch goals in which they hope to raise $800,000 total.I will be hosting an interview session with Ellsworth and the castAR team at the end of this month, if there is anything you would like me to ask them, drop me a comment below.
Rumor has it Microsoft is working on a competitor to Google's Project Glass. According to a rumor posted by Apple Insider, Microsoft will be introducing a Google Glass competitor sometime in 2014. This rumor comes courtesy of Analyst Brian White who predicted Microsoft's move in a investor note yesterday.
It wouldn't be surprising that Microsoft would want to develop some sort of augmented reality device to compete with Google. The way things are going, augmented reality and wearable computing appear to be the way of the future with many companies jumping on board.
It appears to us that Google has made significant breakthroughs around software applications as it relates to this new product. As such, we believe this initiative will kick off a major push into the field of wearable electronics and therefore will be closely scrutinized.
For those interested in learning more about Google Glass, Google has posted up an explainer video that was filmed at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. The video runs for roughly an hour and talks about the abilities of Google Glass and explains the Mirror API for the developers among you.
Project glass is about our relationship to technology. It's about technology that's there when you want it but out of the way when you don't. It feels like technology is getting in the way more than it needs to. And, that's what we are addressing with project glass. It's so that you can still have access to the technology that you love but it doesn't take you out of the moment.
Google is still aiming to have a consumer-ready version of Glass on the market by year's end, though Timothy Jordan, Google's developer advocate, says Glass is still in the beginning stages.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to look through the lens of Glass, what the video above as Jordan shows a video looking through the lens. "By bringing technology closer, we can get it more out of the way."
GDC 2013 - It can't be a Game Developers Conference this year without some cool augmented reality demos now, can it? Well, metaio was at GDC 2013 showing off their quite capable augmented reality technology.
Trace was treated by ex-TweakTown staff member Trak Lord, who showed off some very cool augmented reality Lego demo. As the video above shows, a Nexus 10 is used for the demo, rendering the Lego figure and his four-wheeler in real-time. Trace notes the low polygon count, but Trak says that high-quality models are definitely capable, but it would take a while for consumers to download from the Internet. Trak also noted that this is meant to be a light, accessible experience.
metaio states that they've preloaded models of entire cars or air conditioners using their augmented reality technology.
Google will be sending out invitations over the next few days to people who participated in the #ifihadglass competition. Winners of the #ifihadglass competition will be invited to purchase the Google Glass Explorer Edition package for $1,500. They will then be able to pick their pair up at one of the many events Google is planning.
The dates for when Google Glass will be available for pickup have not been confirmed. Google stresses that the Explorer Program is only open to individuals. Businesses will have to wait until Google comes up with a program specifically designed for connecting with businesses:
We also want to call out that we received great applications from businesses. At the moment, our Explorer Program is only for individuals. However, we are working on connecting with businesses in other ways.
We will probably hear more about Google Glass at Google's I/O event.
Google has made a post on the Project Glass Google+ page to confirm that future versions of Google Glass will come with support for prescription lenses. Google says that Glass will be modular, which will allow frames and lenses to be interchangeable. This will allow prescription lenses to be fitted to Glass.
The Glass design is modular, so you will be able to add frames and lenses that match your prescription. We understand how important this is and we've been working hard on it. We're still perfecting the design for prescription frames. Although the frames won't be ready for the Explorer Edition's release, hang in there -- you can expect to see them later this year.
This is good news for prescription eyeglass wearers around the world. While they may have to wait a bit longer to get a pair of Glass, they will eventually not be left out of the fun. Google expects to launch a pair of Glass that supports prescription lenses before the holiday season.
If you are a poor pool player, you're certainly not alone. A team of students from the University of the Algarve in Portugal have created an augmented reality system that projects a prediction of where the cue ball will go after being hit. While it won't make you the best pool player ever, it will certainly aid in some shots.
The system uses a camera to detect the cue ball's location and the direction the pool cue's direction. The projector then shines lines of light down on to the table to show the predicted path of the ball. The system isn't capable of predicting things such as spin and speed, but it will certainly help with simple shots.
It's akin to what you would likely get on a virtual game of pool. "We developed an algorithm that tracks and analyzes the ball's position. It detects lines that match up with the cue. The computer's connected to the projector too, so it updates right away." Right now, it's more of a research project than anything, but it's easy to see this becoming a stand-alone product that could be used to train billiard players.
The Google Glass project is looking pretty awesome. Who wouldn't want to wear a computer on their face? To demonstrate some of the capabilities that Google Glass should have in its final iteration, Google has release a new video that showcases some of the major features:
In the video, people can be heard controlling the headset via the command "Ok Glass." After those words are said, Glass starts listening for a command such as "take a picture," "start recording," or numerous other examples as seen in the video. Project Glass continues to get more and more awesome every time we see something new.
Unfortunately, you'll have to shell out $1,500 and win a spot to pre-order the device.
Vuzix new augmented reality glasses, the Wrap 1200AR, are similar in many ways to the Wrap 1200VR set. The main difference here is that the new pair of glasses focus on augmented reality (hence the AR as opposed to the VR). They feature two VGA cameras that record stereoscopic video of where you're looking.
This allows them to produce 3D images that have been augmented with the requested augmented reality data. The idea here is that users can see information about exhibits, cities, and other things while walking around. It's not clear who would want these glasses, but if you do, you'll have to shell out $1,499.
Paul Travers, President and CEO, Vuzix Corporation:
We are excited to be shipping these new digital ARglasses, offering a huge 75-inch screen, as seen from 10 feet. New features such as adjustable eye-separation, synchronized camera and display tilt combine for the best digital see-through AR user experience on the market. AR is taking the world by storm and is gaining momentum in many markets. We provide these AR tools to research facilities, universities, game developers and enthusiasts, enabling them to develop affordable and compelling Augmented Reality solutions.
CES 2013 - I want a pair of Google Glasses pretty bad, and this isn't helping - Electrical Lead for the Google Glass project, Russ Mirov, was caught wearing the augmented reality headset at CES 2013.
There's not much news to make of this, other than the picture snapped above, but by the looks of things he'd be looking up high to see the screen itself. They look a bit prototype-y with the metal hanging over the nose, but they are a while from being purchased by consumers.