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The Phone Show

Posted by Lester Madden under Smartphones, Symbian

Interesting YouTube series on the smartphone industry and the Symbian Foundation in particular


Google Goggles What This Means For Augmented Reality

Posted by augmentedplanet under General

Now the dust and the wow factor has settle from the Google Goggles announcement a few days back I thought it would be interesting to take a more in-depth look at what this means to the augmented reality industry.

Multi Search Topics

Multi Search Topics

There are demos a plenty of taking photos of book covers to retrieve reviews and online prices. If you are new to augmented reality then it’s actually not that new. SnapTell have both an iPhone and Android application that provides this functionality. Just take a picture of the cover of a DVD, CD, Book, or Video Game and the software uploads the image to the SnapTell server and runs image recognition to compare the picture against likely matches. Once a match is found you get the usual mix of online reviews and cheaper prices.

Recognising a barcode image I would assume is a lot less complex than recognising a book cover since there are less colours and shapes to contend with. Barcode shopping is another feature of Google Goggles and again there are various products available that provide the same functionality, ShopSavvy on the Android or RedLaser on the iPhone are just a few examples. I use RedLaser from time to time to see just how obscure the product range is. GoCat Tuna and Herring cat crunchies is the most obscure product I have managed to have recognised so far. To compete with Goggle’s logo recognition there’s GetFugu for the Android, iPhone and the Blackberry so again nothing new there. Goggles will search on wine bottle logos which as far I as know is unique as I don’t know any other application that does that today, but I’m sure it’s only a small leap from recognising a book cover to recognising a wine label.

google goggles books

You might think that I’m having a dig at Google but far from it, just becuase they are not first does not make the application any less cool. There are some really fantastic features in Google Goggles that make me drool. I’m no art buff but Goggles will enable me to become an art critic and give me relevant information about major pieces of art, all I need to do is sneak a crafty picture when the security guard isn’t looking and Goggles will tell me the name of the picture and the artist. Fantastic if you are walking around a museum but again it’s probably not a huge step in recognising the Mona Lisa or a paperback copy of C++ for dummies, ultimately it’s a blob of shapes and colours that are compared. Nether the less it is a fantastic use of image recognition.

My personal favourite and the piece de resistance of Google Goggles is a feature that must have the CEOs of the various augmented reality browser companies laying awake at night as Google are about to change the way location aware augmented reality browsers work.

The way augmented reality browsers work today is they use LBS to figure out your current location and the compass to see which way you are facing. With that information they can determine what points of interest you might be facing. Most of the time it works pretty well but I’m sure you know that GPS is not accurate, sometimes my tests have been accurate to 30 meters and sometimes it strays to up to a mile. If you are facing a landmark the visual indicator provided by the augmented reality browser may or may not be shown near by the object you are looking to locate. The second problem is there could be a building between you and the point of interest; the application has no way of actually knowing what is in front of you and what you are really looking at.

Google Goggles however uses image recognition on the landmark. If you are standing at Big Ben in London it sends a copy of the image to the database, performs an image match and then tells you precisely what you are looking at, not what might be around you and in that general direction. The accuracy is so good you can sit at home in California and look at your holiday snaps of Big Ben and it will still recognise the landmark. Fantastic when you get back from a trip and wonder just what all those photo’s are actually of.

Google’s strength is obviously search and the vast array of seemingly endless images that have that their disposal. Properly indexed there would seem to be no limit to what can recognise, particularly if they open up the API for developers to produce our own plug-ins. What breed of cat is that? Cat recognition plug-in tells me is a British Short hair and it’s favourite food is fish. That’s a nice car what is it? Car recognition plug-in tells me it’s an Aston Martin DB7, insurance group is a 31 and it has a top speed of 186mph, but I can’t afford it because my bank plug-in is warning me based on my current salary I would have to save for 30 years.

You can’t help think that terminator vision has just got a step closer. Some six or seven months ago we got our first augmented reality browser, now at the end of the year it seems like we are about to take a huge step forward in augmented reality with Google’s arrival. It will be interesting to see how the current crop of augmented reality browser providers respond to the Google play and what is up their sleeve for the future..

The video walk-through below well worth a look at some of the features of Google Goggles.

Excellent overview of Google Goggles.


Augmented Reality Christmas Cards

Posted by augmentedplanet under General

arwishesWhen I was about 12 years old, I gave my mother a blank card and wrote “Happy Christmas, Happy Birthday, valid until 2010”. That was probably the last greetings card I sent. It’s true to say I am not known as someone who sends cards, except of course the wife on Valentines Day, you don’t ignore that one twice.

Ingloble Technologies have released the first ever augmented reality greetings card service which is a dream come true to people like me. Now we can send a free greetings card that uses augmented reality and send a greetings card that will be remembered. It’s actually a really cool service and works really well, it’s bound to be sure fire hit this Christmas. Just visit www.arwishes.com to design your card, select the image and a music track, enter the recipients name and a message then hit send and you’re done.

arwishes card

Your recipient gets an email with clear instructions on how to view the card, eg print and hold in front of the webcam and they’ll love you forever.

If Christmas is not your thing they have cards for Birthdays and New Year.

AR Wishes Video


Google Enter The Augmented Reality World

Posted by augmentedplanet under General

gogglegooglesGoogle have just announced their first augmented reality application for the Android device. Google Googles for the Android allows users to search by taking pictures of real world objects and having Google provide related information. However unlike existing augmented reality browsers that rely on a compass and location based services to provide search data, Goggles uses a visual recognition engine and location based services to provide results. In theory that would mean that if you take a picture of a well know landmark, eg Big Ben in London it would check the image against buildings in the local area to provide a better match.

Multi Search Topics

Multi Search Topics

Aside from landmarks, Google Goggles supports other searches, if you are in a museum and see a famous picture and want to know the artist, just take a picture and it will search Google for the picture and artist name. In your local supermarket and see a bottle of wine and wonder is it a good year? Just take a picture of the label and Google Goggles will tell you.

A good year?

A good year?

It looks pretty exciting. Google Goggles has been released as a Google Labs product so it’s very much in a beta phase. iPhone owners don’t panic. Google plans on releasing a version for the Apple iPhone once the application is out of beta.

Google Goggles offical video

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Augmented Realty On Symbian – Wikitude Arrives

Posted by augmentedplanet under General

It’s funny sometimes how life works out. Only a few days ago a reader (Primaklima) posted a comment asking for more news on augmented reality applications for Symbian devices. My mission this morning was to have a dig around and see just what was available. I sat down with a coffee, turned on my pc, opened my browse and 2 seconds later my phone rings to alert me to the fact that Mobilizy have just released Wikitude for the Nokia N97.

Until today, Symbian users have had very little to shout about, the only augmented reality browser I can think of has been ARound by Sequence Point Software. All other augmented reality browsers have been targeted towards the iPhone and Android, but the good news is if you are a Nokia 97 owner you can now download Wikitude from OVI.

Augment your world with the WIKITUDE World Browser, the acclaimed Android and iPhone application is now available on Symbian! See the world through your phone’s camera view overlaid with Wikipedia content, Qype reviews and user-generated content from Wikitude.me (www.wikitude.me). The WIKITUDE World Browser presents the user with data about their surroundings, nearby landmarks, and other points of interest by overlaying information on the phone’s screen.

Welcome abord Nokian’s, you can download from here:

2009 Readers Choice Awards
The readers choice awards ended on Friday and the lucky winner of the Chumby is Freek Bodemeijer. Freek check your inbox as you should have an email from me.

The next question is what are the top applications as voted by you in 2009? We’ll have an announcement about that shortly.


Layar Now In 3D

Posted by augmentedplanet under General

beatles AR

Layar 3.0 was released yesterday to the Android Marketplace. I don’t have a Google Android device so my blog is based on the information I have pieced together rather than a physical test. The good news however is Augmented Planet is expanding and we’ll soon be joined by a former colleague of mine, Nitin Samani who is going to be our Android correspondent.

The big change with 3.0 is the 3D engine. Developers can now build rich 3D content to make your augmented reality viewing even better. Lets’ imagine you are on holiday in London and you are a Beatles fan. If you already use an augmented reality browser, chances are there is a tourist attraction database where you’d be able to find out find where The Beatles played. As you walk around London you could use your augmented reality browser to find Beatles related POI’s and you’ll get useful information like directions and a link to a website where you can read more, or using Layar 3.0 you could take The Beatles Tour.

The Beatles Tour developed by a London based company and fellow augmented reality blogger is one of the most exciting launch layers available. Start the tour, and you are guided to the first location where you have a unique picture opportunity with Ringo, Paul, John and George on the famous zebra crossing in Abbey Road. As soon as you’re done, the tour guide directs you to the next location and photo opportunity. All in all the tour has 42 locations for you to visit.

beatles augmented reality tour

Tours sound like a great way to engage users, thinking out loud you could create a tour and generate revenue by having restaurants sign up to be part of the tour. If you were taking The Jack The Ripper Tour, after 28 stops you could be directed to stop off for a bite to eat. How much would a restaurant pay to be included?

At the moment there are 6 layer’s available (list here) but there are lots more planned.  I’m looking forward to the iPhone version so I can run a proper test.

Layar v3.0 can now be downloaded free of charge from the Android Market and is available for all Android 1.5 and 1.6 devices. Layar will release a compatible version for the Droid as soon as possible. Layar have almost finished testing for Android 2.0, and good news for iPhone owners, a version for the iPhone 3GS is to follow as soon as Apples approves

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Twitter 360 Augmented Reality Application

Posted by augmentedplanet under General

twitter 360 splash
Pesselite today announced their latest augmented reality application for the iPhone. If you are a Twitter fan and  wonder where all the people you follow are tweeting from, then Presselite latest application titled Twitter 360 will show you their location on a map.  The application also has 2 augmented realtiy modes, point the device down it switches to show you arrows that show the distance of the tweet, when you hold the device in front of you the applications switches to focus on the tweets by placing them in circles.

twitter 360

If you have used any previous Presselite product to help you find tube (metro/subway etc) stations then you’ll find this application looks very similar as it shares the same augmented realty engine. Personally I am not a huge Twitter user, I just don’t seem to have the time to keep up so I tend to read more than take part, but I know it will appeal to many Twitter addicts.

Since I had a rant about privacy the other day I should refer you to this post. Augmented reality and geotagging is fantastic combination when you are at an event and want to see who is around you and what they are saying. But remember to turn off the feature when you don’t want to be found, unless of course you want everyone to know where you live.

Watch it in action

iTunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=330158239&mt=8

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