Free At Last: the metaio Mobile SDK

December 9, 2011

We are pretty darn excited.

Back in September, CEO Dr. Thomas Alt announced that we’d be releasing a free version of the metaio Mobile Software Development Kit (SDK) in an effort to both ensure and encourage the massive development and adoption of mobile augmented reality by 2014.

In that time, we researched and developed like crazy to make sure that our software would be the most advanced mobile solution available. We implemented Gravity Aware Feature Descriptors, a patented technology that makes image recognition and tracking faster and more robust. We benchmarked our technology by winning the 2011 ISMAR Tracking Competition. We integrated Unity3D for hardcore game developers and designers. And most importantly, we embarked on collaborative research partnerships with chipset providers like ARMST-Ericcson, and Texas Instruments. It’s been a busy fall.

As a result, we have for the entire mobile development community a powerful, advanced and industry-proven SDK, free of cost right from the start, with unlimited app-deployments for iOS and Android. A built-in advanced 3D rendering engine means you can start developing immediately. And it’s not a watered-down piece of shareware- this 3D rendering engine has been used in over 70 professional mobile apps, including our Augmented City demo.

This is the same software that has driven over 10 million downloads and enables millions of magazines delivered every month with mobile AR content.

We’re either completely crazy- or very, very passionate about what we do. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

Read the press release.

Download the SDK.

Get excited.

AR Services for the City of Basel at the ISMAR 2011

October 21, 2011

From October 26th to 29th, the city of Basel in Switzerland is host to ISMAR 2011, the international conference on research, technology and application in Mixed and Augmented Reality. Part of the conference is the very interesting AR-4-Basel project, organized by PEREY Research & Consulting and its partners.

Model by VirtualcitySYSTEMS

The purpose of this project is to establish a framework in which creative professionals can push the envelope of what has been done in Smart Cities with 3D data sets and to showcase the first generation of services that are available to the public with smartphones during the ISMAR 2011.

The project coordinates resources in the city of Basel and internationally for the purpose of implementing real world mobile AR services, and receives the support of businesses, government agencies, municipal service providers, private and public institutes of learning. In order to help build AR based services for people in Basel and visitors to the conference, the project provides datasets of 3D city models (see image above). This is an interesting challenge for researchers and developers in the field of Augmented Reality. We at metaio are curious to see what our colleagues will present.

Current technology is advancing rapidly. While having a readymade 3D Model available is certainly useful for projecting AR overlays correctly aligned onto buildings or street views (we have been using those lots of times), our current approach at metaio however goes a step further. We now have technologies which can in fact create a model of reality on the spot, dynamically and at the very instant the user looks at the world through his smartphone camera. By using very advanced 3D optical recognition and tracking technologies we are able to capture and reconstruct the environment around the user without having to rely on a prefabricated city model. 3D objects can then be directly inserted into this “live” three-dimensional space in perfect perspective, alignment and occlusion.

It will allow people in the near future to walk through any cityscape with their smartphones and benefit from correctly aligned digital overlays and useful Augmented Reality information services as a completely natural experience. We call this the “Augmented City”. You may have seen this video, but we show it once more to illustrate the point:

insideAR 2011 Exhibition Highlights [Video]

October 7, 2011

Hopefully by now you’ve all seen the teaser video and read about the very, very cool announcements we made at insideAR this year. I honestly wish that I could adequately describe insideAR. Maybe it’s because I helped assemble and move 15-20 very heavy table. Maybe watching these camera arrays and industrial prototyping demos come to life, piece by piece gives one more of an appreciation in seeing the finished product. Maybe it was just my first time in Germany, combined with the anticipation of Oktoberfest in Bavaria, combined with the excitement of meeting all of the people with whom I’ve only ever communicated via Skype or telephone or email. Luckily, we don’t have to rely on my floundering attempts at description- we have videos!

This is the first clip of many that we plan to roll out over the coming days and weeks, demonstrating the current and future technologies under the hood (sometimes literally) of metaio.

insideAR was divided into various exhibition segments- one of these was called “Augmented Living”, where we demonstrated some of the potential uses of AR in the household, including the new junaio 3.0 SCAN release that allows the user to get pricing and ingredient information from grocery item barcodes. In that same area, we were also showing our Bosch 3D studio app for iPad that allows people to practically redesign their kitchens with new appliances- without ever leaving their homes.

Many attendees played around with the Around Me Geo Trivia junaio game is a very creative example of how gaming, education and mobile AR can work together to shape an engaging user experience. Sensor fusion takes elements that we tend to take for granted — orientation, geographical relative position, radial distance — and translates them into usable information- in this case, a very fun trivia game.

Our company was built on out-of-the-box industrial solutions, so it should be no surprise to see those prototyping examples in the above video. The sub-millimeter tracking with a guided camera-arm would allow any manufacturer the highest digital scrutiny in examining a prototype on the factory floor; and with the “window-to-the-world”-type 3D mapping you can overlay the original wireframe to the real-word object itself, regardless of its size. With this kind of technology, metaio is naturally bridging the industrial gap between the digital creation and the physical construction of a given product.

Really cool stuff we’re talking about here. Really cool.

Once again, we’re going to be rolling out all sorts of video in the near future, so be sure to either subscribe to this blog or to our YouTube channel (or both!) in order to stay posted.

Augmented Reality On Every Smartphone by 2014

October 5, 2011

If you haven’t heard from TechCrunch, Dexigner, or, this year’s insideAR brought some very significant developments for metaio. To sum it up, we made three important announcements to over 450(!) attendees:

  • The release a free version of the Mobile SDK, soon to be integrated with a game engine
  • The release of an AR-publishing tool, junaio Creator, to enable virtually anybody to create AR content for junaio
  • Strategic partnerships with the leading chipset IP supplier ARM and mobile platform developer ST-Ericsson on joint R&D

What this means for the industry

Mobile SDK is now free

This is a big deal. AR is a young industry- we want to see it into adulthood. We want developers, researchers, students, newcomers etc to be able to test the limits of their imaginations and creativity with one of the most comprehensive and advanced mobile AR solutions out there. I can’t wait to watch these independent developers shape the future of AR applications in their endeavors.

The junaio Creator

User interface and workflow are two of the most important things that any software provider must consider- we want both of these aspects to be more streamlined, more convenient, more natural- and that’s why we announced the junaio Creator. It’s tool that takes all of the image recognition, the natural feature tracking, and the complex algorithms of junaio and reduces that magic to two simple words: point and click. Whether  you’re creating a junaio channel or utilizing our junaio Plugin to add a feature to an existing app, the junaio Creator allows you to do this without a single line of code. Check out the demo in the TechCrunch article and see for yourself.

Formal Collaborations with ARM & ST-Ericsson

I’ve been saying this for years: the surest way to enable the smoothest most immersive AR experiences is to ensure the optimization of the hardware. Though we’ve already been optimizing our software for these wonderful mobile devices that pepper our lives, metaio can now work directly with these processing and chipset providers to find the best way to ensure that mobile devices are AR-ready before they hit the shelves.

In closing



We have a genuine passion for what we do.  It may seem as though we ‘re making bold statements, but please understand that it comes from a shared excitement, an almost child-like fascination in its innocence at seeing dreams becoming reality, not just 3D and digital content (though we do that too).

Augmented Reality on Every Smartphone by 2014- It will be magic.


The Augmented City

August 18, 2011

Augmented Reality will fundamentally change the way how we access, understand, enjoy and share digital information. The vision of being able to point a mobile device camera at anything in the real world and instantly receive contextual information is beginning to take shape as a roadmap to the future of AR. Enabling technologies and the vast growth of content will turn AR into a daily-used standard interface. The 2011 insideAR event in Munich, September 26-27, will demonstrate that AR is here to stay.

An outlook on the Roadmap of AR and the vision of an Augmented City – where contextual, digital information displayed in the real world is only a fingertip away – can be seen at this joint demo by the Media Processing Division of ARM and the R&D department by metaio:

Come and visit us at insideAR and experience the Augmented City of Munich!

Augmented Reality on the Big Screen

May 17, 2011

While tablet computing may in future transform the whole computer industry, it is already changing the way we look at augmented reality. And this is not only because of the big display. More and more different devices for multiple OS platforms are expected to appear on the market, equipped with advanced sensors such as high-resolution cameras. The cost of data roaming is likely to drop and considering the millions of people expected to buy such a device in the next few years, there are incentives enough for optimizing augmented reality (AR) tablet software and to start creating really useful and fascinating applications taking full advantage of the promising, new capabilities. metaio, with its junaio 2.6 release, a junaio plug-in for third party app integration, and the revised mobile AR SDK Unifeye 2.5, is well prepared and ready to go for the next generation of AR applications. If you want to learn more about mobile AR in general and on tablets, everything is summed up here:

And here you can find a movie with almost everything we´re working on: 3D tracking, markerless 2D tracking and image processing, virtual manuals, interactive TV, smart packaging, advertising as a service, context sensitive product visualization, AR gaming and so on. By the way: to my knowledge it´s the first AR demos running on the Android 3.0 based Xoom!

Making Life Easier with Augmented Reality

February 10, 2011

Although the correct description “mobile markerless tracking algorithm optimized for dual-core chips” sounds very complex, the demo below shows how easy life can be with AR. For example by getting virtual service instructions of a printer embedded into the live video. And focussing on AR beyond gimmickry is our main goal ever since

For widespread and daily usage the whole AR eco-system – still in a phase between infancy and an adolescent hype – has to work closely together in order to deliver useful, robust, smooth and still fascinating augmented reality experiences. The “Wow” factor will expire, but the true potential will come out even beyond our imagination. In order to take full advantage of augmented reality and to finally bring the technology to the mainstream of smartphone users – chipset manufacturers, carriers and technology providers have to cooperate closely. Improving the performance, experience, usability and capabilities of AR applications is crucial for broad adoption and daily usage. metaio`s AR software Unifeye Mobile SDK and their, currently seen by many experts, most advanced AR browser junaio offer for example vision based AR and go far beyond compass/GPS based approaches. However, multimedia tightly registered to the physical space triggered by planar objects is computationally intensive and requires a tight integration of hardware and software. metaio CTO Peter Meier summarizes: “With the computational challenges of an augmented vision in mind, a markerless trackable real world, cooperations between hardware and software providers become even more important.” Working closely together with leading chipset manufacturers for an optimized software/hardware integration is where metaio puts its development efforts – besides constantly working on new tracking methods and backend approaches with many patented solutions. The latest results will be shown at the Mobile World Congress 2011. By the way: if you download junaio, search for and open the channel “Printer manual Demo” and point your phone onto the image below, you can try out our image processing. For a live demo you have to come and visit us @ MWC2011!


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