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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."