A new year in AR!

January 7, 2009

About a 4 min. read

Well, the new year is here, and the AR future looks very promising.  Last year was quite a year, both for AR and for me;  there was good and bad, but we have a new year now, and it promises to be quite a breakout year for AR.

Last month, Ori asked if I’d contribute some comments to his Wrap up 2008: Your Greatest Augmented Reality Moments post;  sadly, the end of last semester was way too busy, and I just wanted a break over the holidays, so I didn’t reply immediately … and then forgot. :)

But, I enjoyed his post, and thought I’d add a few comments on it here.  

Before I do, though, I must say that 2008 was an amazing year for AR, and 2009 only looks to be better!  

1. The Most fundamental AR milestone in 2008

Much technology continued to advance;  ISMAR 2008 was great, and the Tracking Competition saw some excellent progress demonstrated. New companies appeared (and I was involved with one), and a few new AR commercial demos happened (e.g., the Mini ad).

However, for me, it was all about handhelds.  The folks at Graz/Imagination have made great progress on getting tracking working better in their StbES system.  TI and NVidia released development kits for new mobile chipsets that will blow the socks off what we have in handhelds today, and Qualcomm and Intel have theirs on the horizon (the iPhone and G1 pale in comparison, but the thought of iPhone 2.0 with an OMAP3 or APX2500 makes me giddy!).  Heck, things are good enough that we managed to run a class across Georgia Tech and SCAD-Atlanta, where mixed teams of students from the two schools built 3 handheld AR games EACH over the course of a semester (videos will be up soon).  That would have been impossible a year ago.

Of course, the G1 and the iPhone were responsible for most of the hype, despite not actually being able to really do “real” AR yet (iPhone hacks by us and others notwithstanding).  

2) The best AR device of the year

To me, as you can tell from above, it’s undoubtably the new mobile chipsets.  Not really “devices” yet, but they are pretty amazing creatures.  When phones start appearing this year, amazing things will happen.

3) Best AR Demo

That’s really hard, especially because I’m fond of the ones we’ve been doing here.    I actually think a couple of the games that were done in my class could rank up there, but we haven’t posted them for others to see yet, so they aren’t really “in the running.”

I agree with Charles on Ori’s blog, the Haunted Book was excellent.

I think the Mini ad deserves mention, for it’s wide distribution.  I was also surprised by the FlashAR demo that is floating around;  getting AR working inside Flash is pretty cool.

4) Person of the AR year

Ha!  I’ll recuse myself here, for fear of offending friends who I don’t pick.  I really don’t think any one person deserves it, though.  There was nothing THAT amazing done by a single person to earn such an honor!

5) The most significant AR deal of 2008

I’m not sure anything stands out, really.  Lots of smallish things happening, lots of announcements of work starting (MediaPower’s AR efforts, Metaio’s publishing deal, Total Immersion, Imagination, etc), but nothing that has landed and been successful and blows away the rest.  

There are some amazing things likely to happen this year, though! 

6) A disappointment

I, too, am sad the Giz hasn’t yet come back.  We actually used original Giz’s in the class I mentioned, and they are a pretty capable device, considering their age.  A few limitations, but still better than anything else we could use!  Let’s hope for 2009!

7) Last minute find: A Surprising Simplicity in AR

I actually am not too excited about the Sketchup/AR Media combo.  Much more exciting is the AR-in-Flash demo; totally cool work.

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A new year in AR! - January 7, 2009 - Blair MacIntyre