Augmented Reality Apps that I want to see today !

and How long it might take in reality.

Everyone remembers the movie Terminator 2, where Arnold gazes around his surrounding to find a lot of information about his environment which he uses to make appropriate decisions. The viewer is told about this awesome gadget when we are allowed to view through his eyes per say. Augmented Reality is demoed sort of for the first time, commercially.

Engineers, designers and futurists have been trying to make it a reality along with making demos of how it is going to look like. Based on what we have been seeing in the past few months, it is clear that it is possible and the feasibility and working details need to be worked out. Various smartphones have started offering clunky AR apps that show you things like restaurant reviews when you point your camera at a store’s facade. But with all the crazy technology already on today’s market, we’re saying that’s not enough! Here are some applications we want to see today.

1. Augmented Reality Gaming :

The experience of gaming is to take an awesome overhauling through Augmented Reality, there are a few demos available on YouTube. With the advent of the Playstation EyeToy as well as Microsoft Project Natal the gaming industry is reaching a point where they are not only happy to embrace the technology but also make it awesome.

I Want to have awesome gaming experience like first player shooter games to be available now. But seriously I think this can be made completely available after the invention of good AR spectacles or the contact lens (See below)

2. Augmented Reality Windscreen for the Car

Yes I did write about how GM is working its way forward to getting this feature enabled in our cars. But having this instead of a normal screen is so much more cooler, getting all the information that you would need while driving around is a great feeling along with making life so much more simpler.

Driving around to not only not loose your way, but be guided to emergency services when you are lost for direction is also an advantage of Augmented Reality.

GM / Siemens already have prototypes available, so this might be available in the next 2 years on a large scale.

3. Door Peepholes with embedded AR

Augmented Reality in doors can enable to have a look at the person on the door, making it safer to check on the person. When someone knocks on our door, we want to know not only if they look like a murderer, but also their name and age. This could be possible using a facial recognition camera built into the peephole. While we’re at it, why not a quick popup of our visitor’s Facebook profile or their most recent tweet? In an AR world, ain’t nobody taking us by surprise!

We already have Business cards which make use of Facial Recognition for identifying people. This needs to get extended. Lets hope that this happens soon and the product can be available in two years tops.

4. Augmented Reality Maps

Be it the Pandora of Avatar, or just Lakshya from Bollywood, 3D maps are cool. Not to mention the fact that in the age of combat preperation and planning they provide an added advantage to be able to see the actual scene where you would be able to go. Add to it, Google Maps, Sketchup and the Google Map Builder. You have all the information available to make a 3D map of most of the  places.

This technology will not only help combat, but will be able to provide support in terms of relief as well as interesting addition to the classroom as well. I would say this should be available now, as the technology allows it to be possible.

I guess I will do more of these applications in the part 2 of this post. Look out for it :)

The year of 3D

[tweetmeme] Ever since Avatar and its awesome success, a lot of people including me have been talking about the advent of 3D and how it will flow into our lives. Well here is more proof of the trend. Movie makers have been working hard to bring a ton of 3D movies to the big screen. Their strategy seems to be that until you can get 3D at home, it’s a sure fire way to get bums on seats in movie theatres.

If at all you were still interested to know how the whole 3D works and what exactly happens with the technology, you can head here. Once you see ti to clarify all technical issues you can maybe check out the releases below.

The first 3D movie to get a 2010 premier will be Disney’s Beauty and the Beast 3D. A rehash of the original, which was one of Disney’s first forays into computer animated features, it is still a great kid pleaser.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Mixing live action and computer generated animation, it will certainly be a big launch. Of course messing with classics is always a mixed bag, and this will do doubt have it’s critics. But Burton has a strong cast with Jonny Depp playing the Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as the red Queen and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Alice will be played by relative unknown Mia Wasikowska. The people that brought you Shrek, Madagascar and err…Kung Fu Panda, will release How to Train Your Dragon 3D. The IMAX only movie Hubble 3D, is next. I’m sure it will look lovely, but the limited release, will mean few people are going to choose it over the real 3D blockbusters.

We may also see the return of Shrek in Shrek Forever After. The fourth in the series will be in 3D, and though it’s a little early to know much detail on the project, it’s sure to be a big hit. Pixar will also reprise their first movie hit, Toy Story, with episode 3, also in 3D. It’s now 15 years since the original hit the big screen.

Last on the schedule for 2010 is something I was initially sceptical about. Tron Legacy is a 3D sequel to Tron. Well I did not say all of the 3D movies are going to be good, but then its a movement. I am sure that the producers and movie makers are trying to cash in on the popularity of 3D as much as possible.

More here and here.

3D screens coming to a living room near you

Avatar, and there is my reference to the path breaking, game changing movie that I just ‘experienced’. Like I have mentioned in my post regarding the movie earlier, I would like to touch upon the aspect of 3 Dimensional viewing. And would it be possible to have the technology in homes, as my whole point of returning to the theaters to experience a movie would be completely lost if it was possible to have this at home. I was both overjoyed as well as shattered when I saw this.

Overjoyed because it is absolutely fantastic that a similar experience can be achieved at home, so you might be able to have a more immersive experience with your regular TV Series, not for your average soaps but maybe for other great series like Dexter / CSI / Fringe whatever. Can’t wait for something like that to happen. But having said that, the whole edge that movie makers have would be lost to this new find, well maybe not entirely.

Let me explain, the 3D technology by itself is not a particular standard and many different standards exist for how the movie makers can trick the viewer into looking at a 3D image on a 2D screen, and the most popular ones, or the ones that we have been seeing over the past few years implemented in movies are primarily listed below :

I have linked them to wikipedia so that you can check out technical details on them if interested. However I wanna look at technology that would come to your home, and lo and behold as of January 2010, Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and LG all have plans to introduce 3D capabilities (mostly in higher-end models) in TVs available sometime in 2010. 3D Blu-Ray players and DirectTV broadcasts are also expected in 2010. Philips is developing 3D television sets available for the consumer market by about 2011 without the need for special glasses. In fact the festival city mall, Festival Center in Dubai already have some TV screens that project 3D images without the need of 3D glasses.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, four of the top selling TV manufacturers–Samsung Electronics, Sony, LG Electronics and Panasonic–showed off their latest versions of 3D TVs. Panasonic set up a mini-home theater where its 103-inch, plasma 3D screen showed clips from New Line Cinema’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and Walt Disney Pictures’ animated film Bolt. They also showed high-definition 3D footage from NBC’s broadcast of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

While some manufacturers, such as Mitsubishi, Phillips, Samsung, and Sharp, have already begun selling 3D-ready TVs, the top four manufacturers plan to have new, advanced 3D TVs on sale toward the end of 2009 and into 2010.But the big question is whether consumers, will be willing to upgrade to a new TV just because it has 3D. Pricing for today’s 3D ready TVs is comparable to other flat-screen HDTVs. I guess the only other hold up with the whole thing is to be able to transmit on 3D and I was really surprised to know that there have been TV episodes that have been showing on 3D, ,a small search on wikipedia revealed this :

As of 2008, 3D programming is broadcast on Japanese cable channel BS 11 approximately four times per day. Starting on June 11th, 2010 ESPN will launch a new channel dedicated to 3D sports with up to 85 live events a year in 3D.

And Also the following :

Perhaps the best example of groundbreaking 3D production on television was the sitcom 3rd Rock From The Sun, which peaked in international popularity when it produced the two-part episode, Nightmare On Dick Street, where several of the characters’ dreams are shown in 3D. The episode cued its viewers to put on their 3D glasses by including “3D on” and “3D off” icons in the corner of the screen as a way to alert them as to when the 3D sequences would start and finish.

So is it going to be another technology that will catch on with time like the flat screen TV’s or just be another digital flop. Only time will tell, but for the time being I have complied a list of some awesome 3D web clips already available which you can watch on your monitor with just your cheap 3D glasses. In case you did not have one, NASA has an awesome tutorial which gives step by step instructions to make one yourself. Check it here. Getting to the actual videos

3D wide angle night drive

Roller Coaster Simulation

A Simple 3D movie with a 3D Webcam

3D Anaglyph

Scene from Matrix Reloaded

Of course when you open YouTube you will see more related videos in YouTube. Until next time have fun in 3D.

Avatar …. the beginning, read on ..

Is it the Sifi plot line ? the amazing special effects ? the pace at which it reached $ 1 Billion Dollars ? the technological advancements ? The hype created on the internet ? James Cameron the name ? Whatever maybe the reason, Avatar is definitely going to be the highest grossing moving of all time. I guess you already know that, but the fastest movie franchise to make over $1.3 Billion Dollars has something right, that is making audiences wanting to see it more. And the fact that it is one of the most pirated movies of all times is not making a difference to its collections either. I am not going to do a review of the movie, you can find tonnes of it on the internet.

Personally, I believe this marks the stand point of the movie industry trying to desperately fight off illegal movie downloads and piracy. You can download the movie but you cannot download the ‘experience’, and thats what its boiling down to. Setting the stage up, were some animated movies that got onto 3D, then came IMAX and now IMAX 3D. 3D technology has existed for a long time, but somewhat sidelined as they wanted to make a version compatible for the home, and also keep down on cost. What followed was that the global piracy causing the movie industry to crash or get there pretty quick. Now the focus of movie makers worldwide is to keep the users away from the homes and get them back into the theaters.

And then out of the ‘blue’ James Cameron works up his average script which is rumored to be 17 years old and unable to materialize as technology did not exist. Don’t know about that one … lol. I say average script cos its very predictable, in face I found this awesome picture bought up by someone on failblog.org, priceless.

Having said that, the visual treat that your eyes is subjected to and the experience that your mind is subjected to is unbelievable. Most friends of mine who saw the movie in 2D did not like it, obviously since the ‘experience’ was missing.

Apart from the technology required to shoot the movie, like the awesome motion capture that brings the characters to life, quite literally, the content of the movie also hid well thought of Science. And of course so, the most expensive movie ever made must have definitely had technology advisors that made most of the decisions regarding the science that the movie would feature. Some examples of this would be :

  • The choice of putting Pandora on a moon in the real Alpha Centauri star system (the closest system to Earth) was neat since scientists are looking at moons for life.
  • Those floating mountains. Many comments expressed disappointment with them, however, it’s not quite as implausible as you may suspect. The filmmakers put thought into this: Superconductors expel magnetic field lines, so the effect could make these mountains levitate like magnets away from the surface. (Details here).
  • Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of a research scientist was uncharacteristically good. Dr. Grace Augustine conveyed the natural curiosity about the world that you would normally observe in Research Scientists.
  • If gravity on Pandora is less than that on Earth, larger organisms would be supported, like the giant ‘Home Tree’.
  • Pandora’s atmosphere is not breathable to humans. In Star Wars, Star Trek, and just about any other sci-fi film, there are countless planets with human-breathable air, which is not very realistic.
  • The hybrid antimatter/fusion rocket combined with a beam-powered light sail. That’s exactly the sort of complicated trick that real-world engineers would use to reduce fuel and mass constraints on the spacecraft to travel at sub light speeds to other planets.

In fact just to be able to satisfy the blazing questions of all the geeks out there, as well as some critics who just seem to need a reason to bash up something or anything of interest, the movie staff came up with the awesome pandorapedia. An encyclopedia for anything ‘Pandora’ or ‘Avatar’. (More ‘Avatar science’, links at the end)

Like, the 3D hyper realistic holographic image projectors, the 3D Heads Up Displays in the flight control rooms, the title technologies showcasing direct Brain-Machine Communication, or even the AMP (Amplified Mobility Platform) for the humans on ‘Pandora’ are all technologies that are based on more scientific fact than fiction. Looking at some of them :

3D Holographic image projectors : CNN had tried its hands with 3D holographs a while back with its recent election coverage. Granted, the anchors and reporters being videotaped weren’t actually looking at holograms. Instead, they were looking at monitors, and CNN used 44 small, fixed cameras and 20 computers to insert virtual holograms with real-time effects processing. Fake holograms! Wait, that’s kind of redundant, isn’t it?

Brain Machine Communication of the Avatar : Brain Machine Interfaces and Mind Reading by computers is growing ten fold every year. New research in this field is enabling a new genre of applications for the computer check out more details here.

Amplified Mobility Platform (AMP) : Already featured in movies like the Matrix Trilogy and the Iron Man, this seems to be the next form of Personal Military technology that is going to be widely anticipated and made available. Tests on primitive versions of this technology already are under trials under the name of exoskeletons. more on Wikipedia about exoskeletons and powered exoskeletons.

Amino Tanks: Used to harbor the avatar to deliver the required nutrition to survive, this innovation is also being used in various research laboratories for organ regeneration.

There is a lot of resources available for the science of the movie. You can check out some of the links below :