Tag Archives: iPad

Aurasma: Augmented Reality on your iPad, iPhone or Android

Article first published as Aurasma: Augmented Reality on Your iPad, iPhone or Android on Technorati.

At this week’s New York Tech Meetup event, (after surprise opening comments by Mayor Bloomberg), I got to see demos from several interesting new companies that exemplify the use of technology to change how we work, live and play—always something very exciting to see. One of demonstrations that jumped out was one of Aurasma, by Autonomy. Autonomy calls Aurasma “the world’s first visual browser.” As most browsers are already visual, I am not sure what this means. However, what jumped out at me was that Aurasma is a great expression of the idea that tablets (and now even some smartphones) not just keyboard-less computers, but instead a mass-market platform for augmented reality. It combines the portable application processing power, camera, touch screen and Internet connection of an Apple or Android smart device with backend image recognition and multimedia content management software to let you literally bring images you see “to life.” Here’s how it works:

  1. Point the camera at an image (billboard, magazine advert, box cover, etc.)
  2. Aurasma detects the image and replaces it with interactive web pages and multimedia adding information and enabling online transactions regarding what you are viewing
  3. This interaction is “stateful” – once you start the process you can walk away from the picture, product or billboard and continue to explore the interactive information

The video below shows how Aurasma works in action:

This type of technology opens the door to many interesting applications:

  • Turning a static billboard or print advertisement into a commercial or move trailer
  • Viewing real-time product information and reviews on a product displayed in a store
  • Immediately purchasing (online) something you see anywhere: in an advert, store window—or even a friend’s house
  • Reviewing a bio and statistics for an athlete or actor you are watching on TV
  • Overlaying a landmark or museum display with maps and historical information

What is nice about this approach is that you don’t need to put QR Codes, Snap Tags, or MS Tags everywhere (you only need to “point and shoot” at an image you see). What adds complexity is the replacing the ease-of-search that these 2D barcodes bring with less structured image recognition software (and many uploaded images). Whether this approach is “The One” remains to be seen. Regardless, it is something to take a look at (and try-out) if you are interesting taking advantage of the growth of tablets and smartphones to create rich, interactive experiences for your customers and partners—wherever they are.

Note: I have no relationship with Autonomy. I just have a strong belief that mobile, portable and capacitive touch technology will fundamentally change how we use computers in the next decade.

Tablets’ Disruptive Transformation: Enabling Form to Follow Function

Article first published as Tablets’ Disruptive Transformation: Enabling Form to Follow Function on Technorati.

Everyone is talking about the rapid growth of the tablet market. Analysts are continually revising (upwards) the number of tablets that will be sold over the next few years. Hundreds of new tablets are competing for market leadership. Even our friends at the TSA now regularly ask us to “remove computers and tablets” for our carry-on luggage when going through airport security.

disruptive-200x150However, in the midst of this explosion, something big is changing right underneath our noses: millions of us are “re-wiring” how we interact with computers. We are discarding clumsy interface tools (physical keyboards, mice, thumb wheels and styluses) that get between us a computers in favor of the most advanced, flexible tool we possess: our fingers. We are not simply using our fingers to press “virtual” buttons. We now combine gesture with the context of what we are doing to interact in ways that are more natural than we have ever done before. This fundamental change in human-computer interaction allows software developers to design applications the way that architects design buildings, allowing form to follow function:

Tailored Utility: We can now tailor the user interface to provide exactly what controls are needed – and no more. We can provide a big, landscape keyboard for text-intensive applications; and eliminate it entirely, replacing it with buttons and sliders, for media-intensive applications. We can finally get rid of all those pesky “modifier keys” (e.g., Control, F1) and replace them with meaningful keys or buttons (like Play, Save, New, or Edit) Our customers can use their fingers – not multi-step menus – to work as they would in “real life” to turn pages, highlight text, select items, and more.

Environmental Adaptation: We can now – using built-in APIs – exploit accelerometers and embedded cameras to automatically adapt application the surrounding environment. We can let people use natural gestures to optimize the display to suit their needs, allowing them to switch from portrait to landscape, zoom in out, or scroll faster or slower. We can automatically incorporate the tablet’s location and orientation into work or play, saving customers the need of to enter this information themselves. We can use cameras to do everything from automatically adjusting contrast and color based on ambient lighting to automatically recognizing faces and bar codes.

Universal Localization. Providing customers hardware is a loss leader in many industries (e.g., smart phones), often subsidized through software and subscriptions. Doing this across multiple markets, with different languages and character sets, is even more expensive. Touch screen tablets allow localization of application to any language, without switching hardware. In addition, their environmental adaption (above) more naturally supports non-Western languages that use right-to-left and/or top-down orientation.

Yes, capacitive touch-based interaction is not yet perfect. Virtual keyboards are still not as fast as physical ones. Touch entry can be difficult when you have large fingers (or long fingernails). However, the capacitive touch-based tablet market is no longer a fringe market; it is now a growing, mainstream one. Competition will drive innovation, resulting in tablets with better surfaces, broader APIs and increased functionality. In time, tablets will make the keyboards and mice of today as obsolete as the physical buttons and gauges of the past.

UI-evolution-540pxw