Archive for July, 2012

Virtual Buttons in Augmented Reality. Part II

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      Next step after users are able to interact with the Augmented information through touch-screen events is to provide them a more realistic interaction through touch events on the real object.  The idea behind this is simple. In addition to the already well-known objects placed in the real world to carry out an image or object tracking, where a video or a 3D object usually is layered, we suggest to add buttons to the scene which the user will be able to “virtually “press. Over the image to be tracked, one or more hot spots or hot areas are defined and over them several actions can be associated.

      Unlike in the previous entry in which we also talked about these virtual buttons, but the video showed a situation where they were placed in a static way, the next video talks about these virtual buttons as addition to the 3D Image tracking. With the introduction of these feature in the real scene, the user is able to press directly these buttons like he would do in a real device, with the difference that here these objects are augmented objects layered over the real environment instead of real objects, but the behavior will be the same.

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Augmented Reality is getting into our daily lifes.

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      The way in which some daily events are carried out could change for ever with the use of Augmented Reality. Actions like reading a newspaper or a magazine, or even shopping will not even be the same with the use of this fast grow technology, which is becoming more and more used by mobile applications developers.

      The idea is straightforward enough: take a real-life scene and add some sort of explanatory data to it so that you can better understand what’s going on or how to get to where you want to go, improving in that way the information directly received from the real world.

      However, in media it’s the advertisers who are most excited with this approach of the Augmented Reality to people daily’s life. The possibilities of geotagged, targeted adverts or Augmented Reality adverts which open up a whole new world of opportunities when you follow them through. They feel really interested in the opportunities that handhold devices brings to this field. Augmented Reality will make customers participate in the adverts and so it will try to engage them.

Figure 1. It Shows an example of how AR can be used in daily events.

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ARPicBrowser, an Open Source Application created with the ARLab ARBrowser .

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      The ARLab team brings you another amazing and useful open source application, with which you will be able to create your own application following the same steps that the ARLab did. This open source application tries to show the power of our ARBrowser, and some of the features it has, like the customizable callback on clicked POI or the extremely light view and smooth movements it provides. But the most powerful feature it provides developers is the very simple interface API, which ranges from totally beginners to expert developers. This easy SDK allows you to add augmented reality geolocation view to your device in less than 5 or 10 minutes, once the environment has been configured.

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Which Movie do you want to watch? Trailer Catcher will help you.

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       Another useful application developed by ARLab using Image Matching and AR Browser is “Trailer Catcher”. Trailer Catcher brings you the latest movie trailers released and currently available on the cinema screens. What you have to do is just pointing your device towards the movie cover in portrait mode and automatically the movie will be recognized and the trailer will be launched. Every week the available trailers will be updated and their cover pictures will be listed in the application.

       The cover recognition is not the only functionality Trailer Cacther brings to you. With its Augmented Reality Browser integrated you are able to take a look at the surrounding movie theaters, checking their locations and their distances to where you are. Furthermore, you can get directions to the closest cinemas or the ones you selected and use the ARView to reach them, following the points direction. We have also thought in the social networks in this application so you will be able to invite your friends to go with you or share with them what are you going to do.

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Virtual Buttons in Augmented Reality

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      As Augmented Reality comes to the mobile world step by step, more features are being added to this technology in order to be even more practical. Almost all Mobile Augmented Reality applications allow to users interact with the 3D augmented world through touch events on the device’s screen, but we propose a new interaction method, that we define as “Virtual Buttons”, and which will allow users to interact directly with the augmented information.

      The main idea is easy. In addition to the already well-known objects placed in the real world to carry out an image or object tracking, where a video or a 3D object usually is layered, we suggest to add buttons to the scene which the user will be able to “virtually “press those buttons. The  main idea is something like playing with a “Minority Report” desktop. As can be seen in some scenes of the following video, these “virtual buttons” are layered in some places of the real world and allow the user to interact with the software only by pressing them. In the case shown the buttons remain in the same place, but the ARLab team is working to provide this functionality over an image or object tracked, and it will be ready very soon.

      Once an image is tracked, over it can be layered any model, so imagine that we render a video which follows the image, and we also place a play and stop buttons in two corners, and a sliding bar in the middle, like in the youtube or vimeo video controls. With the introduction of these virtual buttons in the real scene, the user is able to press directly these buttons like he would do in a real device, with the difference that here these objects are augmented objects layered over the real environment instead of real objects, but the behavior will be the same. Alike in the aforementioned example, the addition of these buttons in the field of augmented games could drive to a more immersive mobile augmented reality games in which the player does not only see the augmented objects added to his world, but also is able to interact with them in this world,  not being something constrained to the devices’ screen. This makes the set of functionalities that Augmented reality brings to its users and the way they experience it grow.

Box Office Matcher. Recognize your movie posters.

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After having launched the beta version of the Augmented Reality Image Matching SDK, the ARLab mobile team developed this simple application using this tool. This application is able to recognize in real-time one of the posters that have been previously downloaded and stored in the device’s database, and once this happens, it launches a screen where the users can choose among several actions, like:

  • - Watch the trailer.
  • - See the movie’s info, like the synopsis or rankings.
  • - or visit the movie´s official website.

 

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Quaternion. The magic of the 3-Dimensional space.

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Once you enter into the amazing 3-Dimensional space you notice that there are several concepts to use if you want to apply transformations over your 3D models. We are talking about rotations, translations and scaling. We can rotate a in the 3D space using: Euler angles, rotation Matrices and quaternions.

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What Augmented Reality should avoid?

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      During the past two or three years there has been a surge of Augmented Reality applications. That Augmented reality is becoming more and more popular among the mobile users and also big brands is not new. The main aim of augmented reality is to bring the digital world to the physical world, allowing real-time interaction with this augmented world, and providing much more innovative, interactive and comprehensive applications.

      But in this technological spread of the Augmented Reality, both applications developers and providers of Augmented reality in general must to take care of several important things if they do not to be hated or even avoided.

      One of the most important things developers must take into consideration is to create easier and clean ways to view Augmented Reality, instead of complex views which make it difficult to understand. This also means that most people may see unwanted information on the screen,  which could get them confused. The information showed should be layered or searchable and displayed in a “user friendly” not invasive way. If users get too much information all at once, they could end up collapsed and not eager to use AR at all in the future.

Figure 1. An example of what AR must avoid.

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Image Tracking in Augmented Reality. The translation between the 2D and the 3D world.

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      Image tracking is well-known in the Computer Vision and the Augmented Reality world mainly due to the user´s interaction it provides when a model 3D is rendered over the image tracked. From ARLab we believe this product is a gap between how the augmented reality was seen in last years and how is seen nowadays. It really makes the user feel the new experience that Augmented Reality is able to offer by mixing real and virtual world in one single space and moment.

      But the steps between recognizing an image and placing over it a 3D model are not easy, and a lot of possible issues have to been taken into consideration. As any normal mobile application will run in a daily environment, some aspects like bright changes, tilt angles or  sudden rotations must be filtered and managed in order to achieve a good and robust performance in the tracking. This is only the beginning, and once the image tracking is performed in the 2D world it is time to dig into the 3-Dimensional space.

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ARLab conferences across Spain. Part I

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       ARLab main focus are developers, and all the products are developed always thinking on them. With this idea, ARLab started last May to present its products to several universities accross Spain in order to make possible to students feel closer to the Augmented Reality and also to the products ARLab releases. We really believe in them as potential developers and, why not, as the promising entrepreneur minds of the closest future.

      In these conferences, that are between 2 to 5 hours long, depending if they include a developing lab, students come to learn about the Augmented Reality field in a deeper way, being able to understand the different Augmented Reality approaches, like an Augmented Reality Browser, Image Matching or Image Tracking. Once the introduction about the AR field finishes and also a brief overview about the company itself, it is time to interact. Attendees have the chance to interact with real final applications developed by ARLab which uses its own technology. So, all the theoretical part shown in te previous part come to the live on this demo-show part.

      This interaction step is very pleasant to both students or attendees in general and us, due to there is a two-sides feedback. Attendes understand what is Augmented Reality and they can feel how they can use this technology for their projects and we have the great chance to receive a real feedback directly from the final users of our products, which has an unvaluable price.

      Since we started with these conferences ARLab has already attended to the Polytechnic University of Cartagena, the Polytechnic University of Vigo and the Computer Science Faculty of the Polytechnic University of Valencia, having in our planning for next months several universities to attend.