The Future of Augmented Reality
Munich, Germany, September 29, 2010 - metaio GmbH, the leading expert on Augmented Reality (AR), held a conference in Munich, called "insideAR", with focus on current practical applications in marketing and industry as well as on the future of this exciting field, which is being identified by many analysts as one of the most disruptive technologies of the years to come. 250 attendees from many countries and industries were able to follow insightful presentations by Intel, Nokia, Siemens and others about their company's contributions and plans regarding AR. As the many money-earning practical applications on display during the conference demonstrated, Augmented Reality is definitely here to stay and has found its place in everyday life. metaio, as conference host, took opportunity to present its view of market opportunities, its vision of a seamless interconnection between the real and the digital world, and the kind of advanced technologies available already or being developed at the metaio labs at this point in time.
Please find a video of the insideAR experience here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WANpzCJHcvU
The founders of metaio, Thomas Alt and Peter Meier, opened the conference with the message that the technology has matured to the point that more and more practical applications are being implemented today in marketing and industry. AR has definitely left the hype stage and is entering our daily life in many useful ways. Pointing to the results of a market study by ABI Research, with an exploding market size for Augmented Reality of 360 million USD by 2014, metaio's CEO Thomas Alt could demonstrate how closely the revenue curve of metaio matches the growth rate, both past and projected, of this new and vibrant industry.
Peter Meier, one of the world's recognized experts in the field, presented his vision of closing the gap between the real world and the traditional desktop as we know it. Advanced AR software running on powerful mobile devices, such as smartphones, capable of object / image recognition and natural feature tracking will allow the user to experience the real world effortlessly enriched by informative displays as relevant to him personally in terms of preference, time and location. Advances in software, chip making, device capabilities and imaginative content all combine to create a whole host of new experiences and application opportunities.
During the conference the metaio team presented many prototypes of such new technologies. One of these is marker-less (3D) image recognition, representing one of the most important Research and Development projects at metaio to help the vision of the "Augmented City" become reality: walking around the real world, pointing your phone at objects, buildings or directions and being offered helpful information, be it text, sound, video or complete 3D displays not only overlaid, but integrated accurately with the object viewed.
The right architecture for Visual Search, the right distribution platforms for AR experiences
In order to use objects in the real world as optical references, one of the most important prerequisites are improved algorithms for visual search in combination with an intelligent service architecture, which an AR browser like junaio can use to create a fully augmented world. In his keynote address, Dr. Haussecker from Intel's Interaction and Experience Research Lab explained the progress made in this field: "In Intel Labs, we research how mobile platforms can be optimized in the future to enable capabilities for compute performance, power management, sensing and contextual awareness to deliver a preferred mobile AR (MAR) experience. Designing and delivering superior MAR applications is where companies like metaio are leading this new market."
Other important prerequisites for creating meaningful AR experiences are the continuing advances in smartphone technology. The estimated 1.3 billion smartphones in use by 2013 represent a hotly contested market. Riku Suomela, a producer at Nokia, explained the AR experiences already available for current Symbian devices: "Nokia's Ovi Store offers developers and partners a worldwide distribution platform to hundreds of millions of people. Our own game "Conspiracy For Good" or the "Zombie ShootAR" by metaio are some of many examples where we already deliver great Augmented Reality experiences to our users."
With shipment on Symbian OS scheduled for the end of October, junaio, metaio's mobile AR browser, will then run on more than 50% of all smartphones in the world, to be downloaded at the Android Marketplace, the iTunes App Store and the Ovi Store. junaio running on Nokia's N8 could already be seen at the recent Nokia World.
Peter Meier also provided a first look at some of the additional features in the 3.0 release of junaio: there will be an optional advertising program (comparable to Google's AdSense) in order to monetize channels and a completely revised user interface for quicker navigation and an even more intuitive user experience.
More than 1.100 developers have started to use junaio's open API to implement their ideas and business models. This growing popularity and the unique technical features available on the junaio platform have convinced one of the most creative developers for mobile AR content, "Tab Worldmedia", to bring their successful channels, TwitARound or Worksnug, over to junaio. And with "kino.de" - the biggest German website for cinema and movies - another great channel was presented for the first time. In this new channel users can see cinemas around and after one click they are directed to the schedule, the route or the trailer for the featured movies.
Some Showcase Applications
Augmented Reality is delivering real business value, as was demonstrated by many successful projects at the conference. Crossplatform (UK) created AR enriched greeting cards for Tigerprint, the exclusive card supplier for Marks & Spencer. Customers are quite happy to pay premium for this unique experience. "The Future is Wild" is a living book created by German Sanbreeze, a 96 page fully illustrated edition, filled with amazing Augmented Reality special features, and soon to be presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair. metaio's partner Vanija from Switzerland presented an iPhone app for "Atelier Pfister", where users can arrange virtual 3D furniture inside their own living room, the world's first mobile Augmented Reality app of its kind.
As the world-wide leader in Augmented Reality technology, metaio develops software products for visual interactive solutions between the real and the virtual world. Based on the software platform Unifeye, 3D-animations can be integrated seamlessly into live-video streams respectively into pictures of the user's real environment. Founded in February 2003, metaio currently employs 70+ people at two different locations. The company is headquartered in Munich with the subsidiary metaio Inc. located in San Francisco USA. metaio has been working with more than 450 renowned customers from different industries and geographical locations. Among them: BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Toyota, Peugeot, EADS, Bertelsmann, KUKA, LEGO, MINI, Popular Science, Focus Features and Volkswagen.