A VerySpatial Podcast
Shownotes – Episode 319
August 28, 2011
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In the mad scramble to finish editing my PhD dissertation and graduate, I haven’t been following the latest and greatest tech in the geospatial realm as much as I should be, but I am definitely intrigued by the launch of Layar Vision. It’s an extension to the mobile augmented reality Layar platform that allows a smartphone with a Layar Vision app to recognize real-world objects and then trigger digital content based on that object. Developers can build applications that leverage this functionality for all kinds of uses, such as a user in a retail store who wants content on a potential purchase.
What is really interesting to me about Layar Vision, which has also been highlighted in a number of writeups about the launch, is that by giving the smartphone the capability to recognize real-world objects no matter where they are located, you can get around one of the big challenges in implementing AR. By putting the focus on objects rather than locations, you don’t have to create a database of geotagged objects with specific locations. If a user wants augmented content for a new video game, they can scan the game at any place and still get the content. By the same token, if you want the specials at a particular restaurant, you can just scan the menu, no matter where you are sitting in the restaurant. If a developer wants to combine that augmented content with location-specific info, they can link the Layar Vision functionality to other location-based data sets and functions.
Of course, Layar Vision as well as the Layar platform are really developer tools, and the goal is to get consumer applications out there that are built on the platform. To try to get developers working with Layar Vision, Layar is sponsoring the Layar Creation Challenge, which is offering cash prizes to developers who come up with the most useful and innovative concepts for Layar Vision centered around the publishing industry, which is an area where the Layar folks think the technology will really be effective.
What do you think? Is augmented reality finally going to hit the mainstream?
Augmented reality is one of those technologies that has seemed like it would be next big thing for the last couple of years, but it has proven pretty difficult to translate from WOW factor proof-of-concept prototypes to actual commercial implementations. When I saw this demo video of Sony’s Smart AR, though, I have to say I was pretty impressed with how good the AR model looks in the real-world environment it’s being projected into, and how responsive it is. The SmartAR seems to be able to handle movement in the 3D space really well, and the virtual object is not tied to the marker surface, which is really important in making the augmented reality compelling. Another aspect of SmartAR technology allows a user to capture an image of an object and then access additional information about that object through the device. For Sony, of course, implementing technology like Smart AR for gaming and other commercial uses is certainly a main focus, but I can see tons of other applications for markerless, high-speed augmented reality.
I’ve already posted my thoughts on the approaching end of NASA’s space shuttle program, but Endeavor‘s last launch this morning went off perfectly, and reminded me once again how amazing the program has been. There will be one more shuttle flight, STS-135 in early July, when Atlantis takes its final trip into orbit. So, here’s to a successful final mission and landing for Endeavor!
(Image courtesy of NASA)
NASA’s Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft is already sending us amazing imagery of the surface of Mercury as it orbits the planet on a mission to obtain information about Mercury and what it’s made of. This image, released by NASA yesterday, is the first image of Mercury taken from orbit:
Messenger is the first man-made satellite to orbit Mercury, although Mariner 10 sent back images during a flyby in the mid-1970s. Check out NASA’s Messenger mission page for lots more information and images as the mission progresses.