Category Archives: Augmented Reality

Is this the future look of augmented reality?

I have this vision of nerds everywhere staggering around the city with big slates in front of their faces only seeing the world through shared web tablet camera experiences. I’m guilty of looking something like this in public myself, even hoisting a tablet onto my shoulder boombox-style to make skype calls. And that’s a part of why this picture (taken at GoogleIO) made me laugh.

Like everything old is new again.

photo credit

Augmented surveilance getting closer to reality

pianissimo (not in B&W)

This week Toronto police proudly announced they would be using face recognition software to identify and catch G20 hooligans. In Tokyo this week, a company announced of new billboards that use cameras to recognize age/sex of passers by and serve-up demographically targeted advertisements. Having networked cameras passively watch us as we move through public spaces is certainly nothing new.

What is interesting to me about the Toronto police example is that they are tying together disparate image databases from both the public and private sector to personally identify suspects. Where you out there dancing on a smashed-up police cruiser in protest? Well certainly there’s going to be at least one high-res picture of you amongst the 89 thousand (!) #G20-tagged pictures uploaded to the internet (the 89k is just from flickr) or from one of the police’s own CCDTV cameras. And if you’ve, say crossed a border or used a bank machine any time in the last few years, your jig is up Mr. anarchist.

If we weren’t there already, we have reached that point where all electronic eyes are now belong to the government. In fact everytime we whip out our cell phone cameras, and everytime we check-in to some geolocative service, we are contributing to the cloud’s increasingly panoptical perspective of what’s going on in all places, all of the time. If connected, all the surveillance networks, all the checkpoints like border crossings and bank machines and all the self-volunteered social media activity can add up to one big all-seeing picture. From a civil liberties perspective you may have good or bad feelings about that.

But just imagine the marketing applications.

“hey there Jane! several public cameras noticed that you were window shopping for jeans at the mall last week, we recognized your face from your public facebook profile, how would you like this pop-up ad for Levis?”

I think, technically at least, Google could pull something off like that pretty easily.

Of course in Canada we have some pretty stern regulations on privacy. Except when required by law (ahem, see above) one cannot freely share/sell/trade personally identifiable information, not without express consent. But people being people, how many do you think would trade away some fundamental public privacy rights for that free slice of pizza, or great exciting (and eerily relevant) discount offers delivered anytime on demand to your mobile device?

photo credit: mdumlao98

Come discuss AR with me @ York Mobile Media Lab

e-flyer_Purves550

Date: Monday Dec 7, 2009
Time: 3:00-5:00 pm
Where: Mobile Media Lab, York University
Technology Enhanced Learning Building
88 the Pond Road, Room Tel 2001
Link: Thomas Purves talk at Mobile Media Lab

Who knew that since I gave my first Augmented Reality talk back in April of this year that AR would become such a trending topic amongst marketers, geeks and many many app designers.

This new talk will be follow up to that one, checking in on how AR is evolving and thinking about the economic and societal implications of an always-connected society. I am less interested in the current fad of augmented reality in narrow sense of computer imagery projected or overlaid on our field of vision. For me it’s more interesting to talk about the deeper implications of the pervasive and inexorable cloud seeping into and “augmenting” our daily reality in the broadest sense, for our individual benefit – or otherwise.

Nonetheless, for today, I bring you the visual AR gimmick of the week: AR on a moving canvas (including clever use of infrared marker LEDs for tracking a reference surface as if by magic) via @pdinnen. enjoy.

Presentation: Design for an Augment Reality world

For posterity here is the slideshare version of my Augmented Reality talk, which I presented for the first time at Refresh Events in Toronto. As a first cut, this presentation represented more of a shotgun scattershot rather than a linearly coherent narrative of the various thoughts on this topic currently spinning in my head my these days.

For background this was the talk proposal. I think I got to most of this stuff.

How “Augmented Reality” and the mobile web changes everything

Mobile broadband access and ever-smarter phones are shaking the internet out its lofty cloud and bringing the web into the real world. As a result, the old “real world”, and many old ideas and many old business models will be running out of places to hide from the pervasive influence of the net.

Meanwhile, each of our smart phones are in many ways even better than the old clunky tools we used to use to surf the net. Our mobile devices are not only connected but, also bristling with sensors like radios, cameras, microphones, GPS etc. that can directly perceive and interact with the world around you. We’re reaching a point where it’s theoretically possible to point that device at almost anything: a landmark, a product on a store shelf, your friends or a crowd of people; and draw from the cloud and your social graph as much, or perhaps more, relevant information than you ever wanted to know. Oh, and the cloud will be watching you and whatever’s around you as well.

In the new augmented reality, the web surfs you.

The goal of this talk will be to provide you with a fast paced overview of what this new “augmented” reality will mean for how we socialize, for how we sell and market physical products, for architecture, for media and entertainment, for public policy, crime, privacy and, as well, few early signals for what might be the new killer apps.

If all that is not interesting enough, I will also bring free beer.

How did it go? I think it went well! thanks for all the wonderful twitter feedback. 100+ tweets and counting =)

wrongbutton @tpurves fantastic presentation! very thought-provoking. especially enjoyed social AR consideration and the notion of layering data sets

BrianSe7en @tpurves great job on the AR deck! somebody who “gets it”.. yeah!

danielpatricio @tpurves Great job on the presentation, it really inspired me and got me thinking. there is a lot of potential in our future

randymatheson @tpurves – inspiring presentation on Augmented Reality tonight at #refreshevents , a balanced look at what is coming in the next few years

sebchorney @tpurves Great job. Real value for me was the “example->implication” flow, and high-level summations/analyses/insights in your tables.

D_Hock Great #RefreshEvents tonight – seeing the crowd engaged by @tpurves‘ talk was truly fascinating.

malcolmbastien @tpurves Awesome talk. It’s clear you know your stuff and have done some deep thinking of its broad impacts.

nitchblog Amazing debate to end the night. Great discussions that brought us around the world and back! Thanks to @jkozuch + @tpurves #refreshevents

davefleet @tpurves is wielding a NFC phone. Love the potential with that technology #refreshevents

pinkbrickroad @tpurves so interesting/funny. Future is crazy. #refreshevents

josephdee @tpurves presentation has been kick-ass so far. Peeks into the future of mobile experience, which is making me grin : ) #refreshevents

AdamSchwabe I love hearing @tpurves talk tech. So intelligent and focused. Fast, well-read. #RefreshEvents

I look forward to presenting again the next revision. Contact or DM me if you’d like me to lead/present this discussion at a future event. Meanwhile enjoy:

Link: Audio track of my presentation (video coming they say)

Come hear me talk augmented reality on April 20th

csi-talkThe nice folks at refreshevents.ca have asked me to take part in their speaker series at their April event (20th of April at the CSI in Toronto). Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

Tom Purves, “How ‘Augmented Reality’ and the Mobile Web Changes Everything”

Mobile broadband access and ever-smarter phones are shaking the internet out its lofty cloud and bringing the web into the real world. As a result, the old “real world”, and many old ideas and many old business models will be running out of places to hide from the pervasive influence of the net.

Meanwhile, each of our smart phones are in many ways even better than the old clunky tools we used to use to surf the net. Our mobile devices are not only connected but, also bristling with sensors like radios, cameras, microphones, GPS etc. that can directly perceive and interact with the world around you. We’re reaching a point where it’s theoretically possible to point that device at almost anything: a landmark, a product on a store shelf, your friends or a crowd of people; and draw from the cloud and your social graph as much, or perhaps more, relevant information than you ever wanted to know. Oh, and the cloud will be watching you and whatever’s around you as well.

In the new augmented reality, the web surfs you.

The goal of this talk will be to provide you with a fast paced overview of what this new “augmented” reality will mean for how we socialize, for how we sell and market physical products, for architecture, for media and entertainment, for public policy, crime, privacy and, as well, few early signals for what might be the new killer apps.

Tickets went up this morning, it’s a free event, but the venue is small so as of this moment there’s only a handful left. If you would like to but can’t make, I will also be slidesharing the slides afterwards.

The eventbrite registration link is here: StayFresh07: Tom Purves

Photo credit: Kieran Huggins

UPDATE: Is now sold out

How the mobile web and “augmented reality” changes retail forever

trminator

At South by southwest interactive this week (SXSW) a huge theme was “augmented reality” the idea of, Amazon-app style, pointing your phone at any product to get more information -or a better price- online. We’re getting to a world where holding a mobile device means all of the potential knowledge and intelligence of the cloud is now in your hand as well, everywhere you go. “The web” is no longer separate place or channel we go to visit at home through our computers. The web and the real world are rapidly converging. It’s now just up to us to design the apps, and interactions to make that useful.

What was clear is that brands have a long way to go yet to figure out what to do with or what retailing models will work in this new “augmented” reality. Consumers may beat the brands at the game using their devices and information advantage to arbitrage themselves consistently better deals.

To compete as a retailer, someone mentioned the idea that physical stores just become “really expensive websites” that help brands build relationship with consumers seamlessly across both physical and virtual channels.

This is a problem for retailing models like malls, which typically take a slice of retailer sales. Now the interests of retail merchants and their landlords may be mis-aligned as a consumer may go to the apple store just to see and touch the product, make use of the genius bar, but then spend their money on apple through the internet channel, or post-sale through itunes etc.

It’s another problem of misaligned interests for merchants if physical retailers are franchises that don’t have piece of the revenues from online sales.

Apple (no surprise) is a good example of a merchant that will do well do well in the hybrid cross-channel retailing environment.

Some other merchants that compete just on product and price without specific competitive advantages are going to get killed.

This is an electric fish

electric fish explain
electric fish explain

Electric fish is pretty awesome. This is an electric fish I met yesterday at the zoo. But I don’t know his name. Electric fish “see” by pulsing an electric current through the water and then somehow watching and parsing the variations in the electric field as it’s reflected back at them. Sharks too, and other fishes I think have a way of “seeing” prey from the tiny electric impulses of twitching fish muscles. It does help that saltwater is a reasonably good conductor. Bats and dolphins “see” their surroundings and each other using echolocation. Electric fish and bats may even see things in relative shades of “color” as well as form, shape and distance.

This is like magic. But it’s not that different or that much more an unlikely form of magic than our own eyes “seeing” the world and parsing our surroundings in fine detail only by means of a narrow spectrum of electromagnetic radiation (we call visible lightly) as it bounces, scatters and reflects chaotically off objects after a very long journey from a fiery orb in the sky.

Computers can see too. In the simple case, barcode scanners and RFID readers have been around for ages. More complicatedly, homeland security uses surveillance mixed with face recognition and robot cars with shedloads of intel-processors crammed in the trunk, are known to race across the desert. Relying heavily on engineered computer vision.

This awesome technology demo shows a google android (phone) application doing real-time augmented reality using computer vision mashed with googlemaps and place tagging. With mobile devices getting more powerful and more packed with high resolution sensors, practical augmented reality is not that far away. Just one beyond location based applications that are all the rage right now.

Soon every electric fish will want to have one.

The only remaining question: if your mobile devices, your eyeglasses, your clothing could see, what would they look for? What spectrum(s) would they see in?

What color would their electric world be?

Electric fish photo by Michele