SLAM: It’s all about tracking and mapping your world

March 25, 2014

In this post we examine a technology with a cool name, and some pretty neat uses. SLAM stands for Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. Since expanding on the abbreviation does little to demystify the meaning of the term, we have asked Metaio computer vision researcher Darko Stanimirovic to explain what SLAM is and why it’s important.

Darko Stanimirovic, Computer Vision Research at Metaio

Darko Stanimirovic, Computer Vision Research at Metaio

Q. In layman’s terms, what is SLAM?

Darko: “The camera found on your smartphone is essentially a “dumb” device which simply captures the light in form of numbers. A video sequence then is simply an array of images containing again, nothing but numbers. In order for a smart device to know where it is an environment, it must be able to make sense of this stream of numbers. So, to help this “dumb” camera, a dedicated computer algorithm must be used. One such algorithm is called SLAM. The SLAM algorithm consists of “localization” and “mapping” tasks. Here, “mapping” refers to a process of charting a map of the environment, while “localization” refers to camera position tracking in the space. Both of these tasks benefit from each other: the better we know the map of the environment, the easier it is to determine the position of the camera and vice versa: the better we know the camera position, the more accurate the map is going to be. That is where the “S” in SLAM comes from, because both tasks are performed in the same time, i.e. simultaneously.”

Image

SLAM demonstrated from a remote quadracopter flying over a village

Q. Where can we find SLAM being used?

Darko: “SLAM technology is found in a variety of state-of-the-art inventions. Whether it is Google’s self-driving car, your little robot vaccuum, or even Autonomous Mars rovers, SLAM is being used to help these smart devices learn and navigate in real-world environments.”

Q. Why is SLAM important for Augmented Reality?

Darko: “The magic of AR cannot work without knowing where the camera is located, and SLAM is an important technology for determining where a smart device actually is. For example, if an AR experience is based on a holding a smartphone up to a poster, then the device needs to know where it is in relation to that poster in order to realistically “stitch” digital content into the scene, and SLAM is one of the key technologies that allow this.

SLAM can also be used to extend the known world around a smart device. SLAM helps to fill in additional details that exist in the environments of all the different users out there. We see this in IKEA’s 2014 catalogue app where a piece of virtual furniture “pops” out of from the cover of the catalogue (the known piece of information), and then the device begins to learn the environment in order to place the virtual furniture into the room in a realistic way.”

SLAM tracking technology is one of the many 3D tracking capabilities of the Metaio SDK PRO, making it the most powerful Augmented Reality development tool on the market. For more information about the Metaio SDK, check out the SDK page here


Weekest Links, End of March

March 24, 2014

Welcome to the winning March Madness Bracket. Occupation: not us. 

 

Trak visits  Seebright at GDC.

Metaio | Junaio recap

The Case for Wearable Computing [Augmented Blog]

Metaio releases newest version of Junaio AR Browser with new design, real-time POI visualization and browser interoperability [Augmented Blog]

Metaio releases newest version of the Junaio AR Browser [CIOL]

Metaio at hy! Summit (See Episode 2, Minute 18) [hy! Summit]

Junaio Augmented Reality Browser Revealed [Ubergizmo]

Augmented Reality World News

Pugwash: Augmented reality can be both useful and dangerous [The Tartan]

Augmented Reality and Cloud Gaming [Cloud Tweaks]

“UK’s first” augmented reality property app raises $500,00 [Startups.co.uk]

10 Forthcoming Augmented Reality & Smart Glasses You Can Buy [Hongkiat.com]

Augmented Reality Is About to Turn Football Into a Real-Life Videogame [Wired]

Seebright Reveals Industry’s First Smartphone Integrated AR/VR Head-Mounted Display Platform With Wireless Controller [PR Newswire]

Headset combines virtual and augmented reality with holodeck-like results [Engadget]

Winnipeg company goes for gold with video game [CBC News]

Google reveals Android Wear, an operating system for smartwatches [The Verge]

Upcoming Events

Metaio at Augmented World Expo: NY [AWE-NY]

Webinar this week – Metaio Trivia: Technical Edition [Register]

Pick of the Week

Pepsi delivers its own augmented reality experience, only it’s at a bus stop in London. The AR bus shelter uses some clever camera work to surprise people and they get some fun results. Enjoy!


Metaio releases newest version of Junaio AR Browser with new design, real-time POI visualization and browser interoperability

March 24, 2014

It’s a release, yeah! 

Last week we released the long expected, newest version of Junaio for Android and iOS devices with an updated user interface that features an all-new visualization of nearby points-of-interest (POIs). With Junaio it is now possible to access GPS and location-based information from almost anywhere in the world.

“The more natural we make AR, the more mobile users will see value and return to the experience,” CTO Metaio, Peter Meier said. “It’s clear that the next step for mobile AR is location-based information in devices like Google Glass, and we’re looking to the near future in our R&D.”

Junaio has been optimized and available for wearable devices like Glass since Metaio’s InsideAR conference in October of 2013, but as of today it’s equipped with an even friendlier interface and a more contemporary style familiar to today’s app users. The brand new visualization scheme ensures that the user sees only the most relevant information to his or her surroundings, like geo-tagged Instagram photos or tweets; the best places to catch a Taxi; the nearest entertainment locations like movie theatres or concerts; or even the real-time positioning of public buses and trains.

IMG-junaio_around

Junaio combines GPS, image recognition, visual search and a robust cloud-based architecture to recognize and attach digital information to nearly any object or environment in real-time. Now even non-developers can create their own Augmented Reality “channels” and even applications with the latest Metaio Creator tool, a drag-and-drop and easy-to-use content management system for AR.

IMG-junaio_channel

For developers who want to create mobile AR experiences utilizing location data, Junaio is now compatible with other browsers like Layar and Wikitude. Now over 20,000 Junaio developers will have access to the entire mobile AR audience and will be able to push their content directly to other applications.

Download Junaio today at http://junaio.com/download

Learn more about the Metaio Creator at http://creator.metaio.com

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Metaio at 2014 hy! Summit in Berlin: Be crazy and disruptive

March 21, 2014

hysummit_picThe last two days we attended the hy! Summit in Berlin – the most fanciest and coolest Startup event in whole Europe. The founders of hy! Berlin, Aydogan Ali Schosswald and Hans Raffauf, brought together top industry executives, innovative startups and investors to further advance the digital transformation of Europe’s economy. The discussions focused on current trend topics, big data and research, e-health, security, mobility and wearable technologies.

Aydo_Hans_hysummit

“Pushing forward the dialogue between the new and old economy the hy! summit is a learning and innovation platform. At the summit decision makers of today will meet the ones of tomorrow”, says Aydogan Ali Schosswald, CEO of hy!. “Startups are exciting catalysts of our time when it comes to user-centred innovation. So our goal is not only to help them with general support but also giving them access to capital, science, politics and industrial infrastructure.”

dobrindtFederal Minister Alexander Dobrindt delivered the opening speech of the hy! summit and welcomed all participants to the “digital summit” and warned the audience: “Europe is standing on the border of being an innovation society to becoming a staganted one. Now is the time to do something.” Peter Thiel, angel investor at Facebook and Co-Founder of PayPal, as well as Charles Adler, founder of Kickstarter discussed topics around “new digital frontiers” and “innovation in the digital era”.

The most freaky show came from Ijad Madisch, founder of ResearchGate and a former doctor, who talked about his vision to create one single platform where scientists from all over the world could share their knowledge and interact with each other. And the vision came true: Ijad built ResearchGate and could even convince Bill Gates to become an investor for the Startup. Not a bad start, right?

Ijad Madisch

In addition to the leading startups and investors, established companies such as Bosch, Google, Siemens and of course Metaio were also present. The hy! summit managed perfectly to bring together decision makers of the new and old economy to identify and realize potential growth and innovation developments in the digital society.

We took also part in a fireside session “Future Applications for 3-D Spatial Awareness and Object Recognition” and had a discussion about the future of Augmented Reality, the valueness of developed applications and the future of mobile devices. These kind of debates with the AR peer group and beyond are very helpful and inspiring and we should encourage people from different industries to continue to discuss.

For Metaio the hy! Summit was a great platform to talk to new entreprenieurs with great visions and to get a lot of media awareness. Anett Glaesel-Maslov, PR Manager of Metaio, took part in the hy! Live WebShow and gave an interview about what Metaio is doing, how the AR industry changed in the last ten years and about keydriver projects. Here your can watch the complete interview:

Thank you to hy! Berlin for being part of the 2014 hy! Summit!


The Case for Wearable Computing

March 20, 2014

When Metaio began offering productive augmented reality solutions to the automotive industry, there was already interest in wearable devices. In fact, one could trace general interest in wearable devices back to the science fiction pop culture of up to 50 years ago. From campy space odysseys like the original Star Trek to futuristic CGI-fueled endeavors of today like Minority Report, it seems as though humanity has always had the understanding that the use of vision in user interfaces was not a dream or a fiction but rather an inevitability. That one day we would peruse the digital world through cameras, unfettered by anything other than line of sight; that the technology would be as ubiquitous as the medium.

Wearable Computing

Smartphones, to some degree, put that dream on hold. Lulled into a blissful dependency on shiny devices that promised the world (just look at the original home screen of the iPhone), we settled for leaving the digital in our pockets. To be immersed in mobile is to avoid eye contact on the subway; to navigate the streets of a city, head down and feet marching toward an invisible red beacon; it’s attending a concert, only to see the rise of 10,000 smartphones when the lights go down and the band takes the stage.

This last example proves to me that wearable computing is more feasible than we realize. People already experience the most culturally significant events through their smartphones – concerts, political upheavals, sport events – why not make the next step to accessing and documenting information through the eyes? Photo and video capture are however only small aspects of a wearable ecosystem- it’s augmented reality that brings it all together.

We’re not the only ones who believe this- according to a recent Forrester Research report by Sarah Rotman Epps, 21.6 million US consumers are willing to wear augmented reality eyeglasses from a trusted brand. In 5 years, potentially 1 billion people could be experiencing the digital through a wearable device.

Metaio has always seen value of smart glasses for augmented reality, and our R&D department has worked with multiple head-mounted display devices and prototypes. But until recently, the form factors, limited usability and cost have prevented massive adoption by industry or consumers. Most wearable devices were tethered or otherwise anchored to a PC in order to run the software, restricting the possible movement of the user – solutions to the problem of mobility ran the spectrum from creative to wildly infeasible, including back-mounted personal computers complete with antennas, GPS satellites and inclinometers.

Many of the devices we used were originally designed as video display glasses, only to be retrofitted and “hacked” to allow for real-time rendering and tracking. While this was perfectly productive and useful for industrial applications, it was far from ubiquitous.  Today, Metaio has an ever-increasing supply of new and upcoming wearable devices, but challenges remain.

Epson Moverio BT-100

Epson originally released the Moverio BT-100 line as video display headwear, it didn’t take long for someone to strap a camera to the top and hack it. Now Epson is actively involved in encouraging developers to create apps and experiences for wearable devices. Metaio recently sponsored a hackathon at Epson’s Long Beach, CA, where developers competed for cash prizes and Metaio software licenses. Some notable creations included: an app that could recognize and label anything in the real world; a hands-free cooking assistant; and a fitness app that projected running avatars just a few paces ahead of the user.

CNET described the BT-100s as “wearable window into a whole other world of entertainment.” For good reason- one of the most outstanding features of the Moverio line is the full-field semi-transparent view, and companies like APX Labs and ScopeAR are utilizing the wider frame for next-generation augmented reality, targeting enterprise, defense and industry for commercial applications. Keep an eye out for future iterations such as the  BT-200, to be released in  early April, which Metaio has already developed a maintenance app in conjunction with Mitsubishi Electric.

Google Glass

Probably now one of the most famous devices in the world, Google Glass has propelled wearable technology to new heights in media and entertainment. The lightweight and minimalist form factor is very approachable, and it ships with access to one of most successful mobile ecosystems. Although the current Explorer version isn’t the best-suited device for AR, Google will undoubtedly continue to improve upon their original design.

metaio-augmented-reality-google-glass-car-manual-designboom03

Recently, ReadWrite contributor and Google Glass Explorer Joshua Merrill wrote of his experience of his first 100 days wearing them, and that it was unfortunate that Google hadn’t unlocked the full potential of the form factor: “Glass needs to be a platform for augmented reality. When I see text in a foreign language, translate it. When I look at a house for sale, tell me the asking price. When I look at a product, scan the barcode and tell me if it’s cheaper online. When I’m standing in a public place, let me travel backwards through time using Street View.”

Glass should be commercially available in the next 1-2 years. Metaio has already had phenomenal results developing for Glass (just check out the video), but we’re looking forward to (much) longer battery life, better cameras and maybe even multicore CPU and GPU.

Vuzix

Founded in 1997 in Rochester, NY, Vuzix is one of the of the longest-running wearable devices company. Vuzix is known for their diverse array of products, from full-immersion VR glasses to their line of AR eyewear. The latter includes the upcoming M-100, a monocular virtual display aimed at the enterprise market. Vuzix and SAP recently collaborated on a concept for wearable devices in a warehouse environment, where the device pushes inventory and shipping request directly to workers. These workers can also receive support help for machinery, real-time maintenance overlays and scan boxes to fulfill “picking” queries- all served to the M-100.

Vuzix has been dedicated to creating usable, productive AR eyewear for quite some time. As CNET reviewer Scott Stein wrote after trying the M-100, “Forget Google’s concept of keeping screen separate from reality — Vuzix wants full augmented overlay.” Metaio has worked very closely with Vuzix for many years, and we’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration.

Foresight

There are still challenges to be overcome — form factor, enabling technologies, and battery life are just the beginning. Metaio anticipated these obstacles however, and has since been working on hardware acceleration for augmented reality experiences. We designed the AREngine hardware IP to be modular in order to fit any semiconductor platform, with more than smartphones in mind: vehicles, smart applications and of course, augmented reality eyewear. Look at nearly every pop-culture representation for AR and you’ll see experiences that could never run on current hardware platforms. Metaio is out to enable the always on, always augmented experiences we were promised. The Augmented City isn’t a dream- it’s a vision. Wearable computing can make that vision a reality.


Join us for the 2nd edition of InsideAR Tokyo!

March 18, 2014

Hanami celebrations are just about to begin and Japan comes into bloom: Time to get your Early Bird Tickets! 

InsideAR_Tokyo_2

For the 2nd time we will host an InsideAR in Tokyo for you (2014, July 8th) and we are now calling for speakers, exhibitors and sponsors!  Join us by giving a keynote or presentation to the ever growing audience of attendees and AR enthusiasts and submit your speaker proposal by visiting our website or via Email to: insidear@metaio.com.

Meet again Dr. Thomas Alt, CEO Metaio, Dr. Irina Gusakova and Matthias Greiner from the Metaio team who will speak about the future of Augmented Reality, the AR Product Lifecycle and use cases for Wearables.  

And here are the topics for 2014 InsideAR Tokyo:

  • The Wearable Computing Forecast
  • The Next Generation of Wearable Experiences
  • Better, Faster, Stronger: Accelerating Hardware for Augmented Reality
  • Optimizing Content for Applications and Development
  • AR Product Lifecycle: from Engineering to Sales
  • Augmented Reality in the Public Sector
  • AR Brings Print & Packaging Alive

For further information on what happened already at 2013 InsideAR, please visit our website: link and order your Early Bird tickets  here.

InsideAR_Tokyo_3


Weekest Links – Mid March

March 17, 2014

Let’s find four-leaf AR clover

Gearing up to present at the AEC Hackathon. So many cool projects!

Metaio | Junaio Recap

An SAP Warehouse Concept for Error Detection in Warehouse Picking Processes [Augmented Blog]

SunHub – Explore the Sun’s Trajectory [Augmented Blog]

Augmented Reality Software Developer Takes B2B Sales Globally [Internet Retailer]

Augmented Reality Across the World

[AR]e We There Yet? [Storyboard]

Winnipeg Game Developers Creating a New Reality [CBC News]

Skully AR Helmets Win the Wearable Tech Award at SXSW 2014 [Augmented Reality Trends]

Augmented Reality is Blurring the Line Between Mobile Gaming and Reading [Mobile Commerce Press]

Make Friends with a Brazilian, Via Coke’s World Cup Mini-Bottles [Creativity Online]

Epson Showcases Its Augmented Reality Smart Glasses [MCAD Café]

This Is the Future of Retail: Robotic Fitting Rooms and Magic Augmented Reality Mirrors [TheNextWeb]

Measuring Human Motion with a Soft, Wearable Sensors Kit [Digital Journal]

Upcoming Events

Metaio at Laval Virtual [Laval Virtual]

InsideAR Tokyo, Register Today! [InsideAR]

Webinar- Junaio 5.3: The Basics [Register Here]

Pick of the Week

Coca-cola has all sorts of ways to make people smile. In preparation for this year’s World Cup, Coca-cola Brazil has released an app to help you make friends in Brazil using their Coke Minibottles. Create your own personal augmented reality avatar and share with the world. For more information check out the video below.


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