Working with the Metaio Creator 3.0 – A user’s experience

November 5, 2013

My name is Jan Graf and in October I started a marketing & sales internship at Metaio’s office in Munich. One of my first tasks was to test the new version of the software Metaio Creator 3.0. With the Metaio Creator 3.0 nearly anybody is said to be able to create own augmented reality (AR) projects. Since I am a newcomer to AR, I was very curious to find out how it works.

Download the Metaio Creator for free!

To use the Creator and to test a created scenario on a mobile device, you will also require a Metaio developer account and the AR browser Junaio on your smart phone or tablet. But both are easy to get or to create and both are free of charge. After you install the Creator, you can access online tutorials, webinars and a helpdesk forum for support. I consulted all of these resources for my experiences described below, and I recommend the same to any new user.

choose tracking technologyAt first I had to choose a so-called “trackable” to which I wanted to attach digital content. This can be a 2-D object like a magazine or photo (image tracking), or even a 3-D object like a building (object tracking) or even complete outdoor areas (environment tracking). Another technology is called instant tracking which allows you to add content spontaneously to anything you can find in the real world. To start I tried out “image tracking“ with a picture of the Oktoberfest, Munich’s annual celebration of Bavarian culture.

A nice feature of the Creator is that it automatically estimates the quality of your photo. As you can see, my picture just got one out of three stars so it might possibly not work well. But I tried it anyway.

On the right you find the resources with which you can augment your trackable. You can choose between 3-D models, audio files, websites, (YouTube) videos and graphics, among others. For my scenario I used Metaio’s provided sample content, which is good if you don’t want to spend time making your own 3-D models.

add content

Drag and Drop content to create your own AR experience

My plan was to get to the website of each beer tent by clicking on the tent on my scanned photo in Junaio. To do this,  I chose the “?” button and put it on each tent on my trackable in the editing area. Using the features of the Creator is very simple. You can easily drag and drop the resources, change the size and the proportions of elements, rotate them and determine the distance to your trackable in the 3-D view. On the left you select the view. Zooming is possible with the mouse wheel. Theoretically, you can add a limitless amount of content items to a trackable. Unfortunately I didn’t figure out whether and how I can change the color of the provided sample content, how to process multiple objects simultaneously or add text to an object- but all of this is explained in the available tutorials on Metaio’s Dev Portal.

After a right click on a button of my scenario and a left click on “Properties” I could determined what should happen when I click on “?” buttons. For my project I selected “Open a hyperlink” and entered the links to each website of the beer tents. In the same way I added a link to the Wikipedia entry of the Bavarian statue, also pictured, though this time I used a magnifier as button. Additionally I attached a play button on my trackable that starts a YouTube video, but I didn’t use the “YouTube” resource, since in this case the video would start automatically after scanning my photo with Junaio, and I wanted a video texture to play on the image itself. With a clickable button I can define the time of playing. Done!

hyperlink

If you have a webcam, you can preview your scenario directly on your PC. For that you have to print your trackable or you can also point your camera to the digital image on your screen. Unfortunately I have no webcam so I tested my scenario with my smart phone. In order to enjoy your AR experience with Junaio, you first have to upload it to a server. With the Creator you can easily upload your project to the provided cloud space by Metaio or to your own server.

create channelIn the section, “Upload to Metaio Cloud” on the bottom right I chose “New channel”, next “Create”, named the channel for my scenario “Oktoberfest” and pressed “Create” again. A few seconds later a QR code appeared on my screen that I had to scan with Junaio. That’s it. Now I should be able to experience my first own AR project by pointing the camera of my smart phone on my printed trackable. What can I say, the result looks very good, although the quality of my print doesn’t, and my buttons work!

After this encouraging result, I also tried the “instant tracking”  that doesn’t need a predefined trackable. I did not have to select a picture, but place the content items directly on a mapped grid in the editing area of the Creator.

 

channel uploaded

Among the sample content, I found the 3-D model of a pumpkin and added it to my AR scenario. Then the UI Designer (user interface designer) you can see on the bottom left opened automatically and a camera and a cross button appeared on a mapped mobile device. These buttons will activate or deactivate the instant tracking. With the UI Designer I can place all menu elements wherever I want to see them later on my smart phone. After that I finished my AR scenario as described in the test before and scanned the QR code with Junaio. The amazing result you can see on the pictures.

UI Designer

User-friendly Interface to manage your Content

pumpkin 1 Overall, I can say that the Metaio Creator 3.0 delivers what its developers promised. The software has a very user-friendly and clear interface that allows you to simply drag and drop content on your scenario. The tutorials are well-written and easy to understand, so even if you are not a developer or know little about the technology behind augmented reality and just want to have fun, you can create and enjoy your own projects within a short time. But of course the Metaio Creator is also a tool for professionals who can put much more functionality to AR scenarios with the AREL Script Editor within the Creator.pumpkin 2 It is not difficult to imagine that you can create added value to print media by creating a multimedia extension with the Creator and that the Metaio Creator is a great marketing tool for many companies. But there are surely many opportunities for the industry as well. So there is a huge audience for the Creator and I’m sure I will be using the software in the future.


Xenium paves the way for Augmented Reality to India

May 23, 2013

Xenium‘s latest AR app Close up with Stars was delivered in quick time for Dharma production’s movie “Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani” in association with Mindshare, OMD and Hindustan Unilever. Closeup, India’s Market leader in gel toothpaste segment for over three decades, is collaborating as the partner of Dharma Production’s upcoming Bollywood movie Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Closeup has launched a limited edition of a toothpaste pack. Each pack includes a Closeup friendship band autographed by Ranbir Kapoor & Deepika Padukone. Due to our Indian Metaio-colleague, Sudhanshu Kapoor, they are both “currently the biggest heart-throbs in India”!

Sudhanshu Kapoor, Business Development Manager OEMs, with Naina in the perfect CloseUp moment! :-)

Sudhanshu Kapoor, Business Development Manager OEMs at metaio, with Naina in the perfect CloseUp moment! :-)

The occasion witnessed the launch of a Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani – centric Closeup TV commercial introducing the special Closeup packs with autographed friendship bands. In addition, with a live demo, the lead pair of the movie – Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone also announced the launch of a unique Closeup with Stars Augmented Reality application, now available on Google play store and soon for iOS. The stars also publicized an online event on May 28, wherein they would host an exclusive webchat on http://www.facebook.com/closeupindia

toothpaste_2

Get up close with Badtameez Bunny and Nerdy Naina in a whole new way! Customers could watch the stars of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD) rock to Badtameez Dil on the special new Closeup pack. All people have to do is download the Closeup With Stars app on your phone and scan the crazy duo’s pic on the pack. And voilá, the pic comes alive on the phone. What’s more is that you can enjoy exclusive access to music and videos from the movie and even get a pic clicked with Ranbir and Deepika!

toothpaste_3

Xenium provides comprehensive solutions for mobile AR apps. For this special case, the programming team used the most advanced AR software tools from Metaio and the design team optimized the video and animation content to create this very special AR experience. N. Md. Parveez, CEO of Xenium, says: “After overcoming all challenges and successfully launching the Closeup with Stars-App, new doors and opportunities are opened for video AR technology on mobile devices.”


Brand New Pricing Model For The metaio Web SDK

July 11, 2012

Try out the new free full version today. 

metaio software web sdk augmented reality AR

Offering Augmented Reality technology to the masses, metaio is changing its pricing model for the metaio Web SDK. Now available , the metaio Web SDK allows developers to create amazing Flash and Shockwave based Augmented Reality applications.

Deploy with the best price/performance ratio

Completely free for development, the deployment cost of only 3.000€ (3,750$) per application allows for the integration of Augmented Reality applications even in websites of small companies with tight budgets. Developers and service providers can promote their services to new and interesting target groups, who may not have wanted to invest in AR technology previously.

Ready for e-commerce and the social web

The metaio Web SDK delivers the necessary technology to create online Augmented Reality applications for e-commerce which can also be integrated with social platforms like Facebook, allowing websites to benefit from the power of the word-of-mouth recommendations of their users.

Enjoy using the metaio Web SDK!

- The metaio Team


Augmented Reality In Your And Your And Your … Hands

May 20, 2009

In humanities there is this everlasting struggle between the macro- and micro-perspective oriented approaches. Some say you have to look at the big picture and deduce from there to a social phenomenon. Others take a single action or one social agent and try to construct their general theory from small to big. Personally I favour the emergence approach, but this blog is not dedicated to universal theories  and the related discussions.

This blog is dedicated to augmented reality and as far as I can see it in my own stats, feeds, alerts, requests, discussions and so many other indicators it represents quite well, what is going on  out there. The correlation between small and big is quite significant in a blog. Although we are far away from saturation and – so called – killer applications, augmented reality is not such a niche anymore and the demands for blog articles are going in the same direction as the requests for software in this market. And because I want to cover a groundbreaking software release I also wanted to do something different for my blog this time. Thus, I went for  an expert talk and usability test of  the corpus delicti Unifeye Design – the first professional augmented reality software tool for non-programmers – with Matthias Schroeder from SCHROEDER + WENDT User Interface Design and this is what we have talked  about.

Playing around with the MINI

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture: The GUI of Unifeye Design and that MINI again.

Matthias is founder of Magdeburg based SCHROEDER + WENDT, business developer,  designer and member of the Usability Professionals Association (UPA). Besides his interest in intuitive and sense-making information and interaction design he is an augmented reality enthusiast. And, although he would deny, an AR expert! Actually he started blogging and thinking about augmented reality clearly before me. Please note, that we were not in a question-and-answer mode, thus I just transliterated parts of our session. We hereby want to start some exchange about this topic and maybe publish more facts from the sub-tasks like GUI design, possible applications or results from the BETA-test surveys bit by bit.

augmented reality in the spotlight

Matthias´ first impression was – and lucky us: “I have never seen an AR software like this before. It must be the first one for non programmers, right? I think it could enable almost anybody to play around with this technology”. But who is this anybody, who needs a tool like that? We both were of the opinion, that for example designers and advertisers could use this interface to get in first touch with augmented reality. Actually this is what Unifeye Design is all about. The demand came from the market. More and more companies are interested in augmented reality, but not everybody understands this technology in detail – and its vast possibilities. Not to mention for example customers of agencies, who haven´t heard of  augmented reality before. And when we proclaim, that an advertising campaign or a presentation of context sensitive product design is more fascinating and more informative, we should give the enablers of such measures a tool in their own hands! A simple example, which has happened last week during  my stay in Hamburg with the guys from Die Bildproduktion – after a trial phase, some playing around with the tool and brainstorming they had so many fantastic ideas. They just blasted me away. And I was not the only one, because we went to one of their customer agencies and they were so excited to see running customer projects augmented with yet another dimension. They needed to see something specific and they did!

Of course  we are still focussing on this “almost anybody”, because you definitely need some experience in for example photoshop or a 3D software. But Matthias said something very interesting: “maybe now the second movers come in. OK. But what if one day these tools are so simple and compatible, that really anybody could  interact, work and play with AR. With very own content and the number of  ideas out there”. This opens your mind! and you start thinking about “the creative cloud”. I am wondering what my nephew would do with his own augmented reality. Or Woody Allen. Or this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7GGkKpBR-g

This leads to the the next and final part of our talk – a session, where we went through the GUI of the software and Matthias made his comments and suggestions. I will not enclose the complete result of the usability and interface design analysis, but I want to cover the most interesting parts. These which might interest augmented reality enthusiasts and newbies willing to also try out the demo-version of Unifeye Design.

First of all, I have to admit, that Matthias found many things that need to be improved. But he wanted to evaluate it as one very professional visualization software following the standards in form and function he would implement, when doing a job in his own company. And he took the perspective of somebody with absolutely no experience in AR. Thus not having seen a movie or demo or something before. Said and done by a guy who described his work as “we want people to have fun with interfaces, even when they are doing their annual tax declaration.” So, these people at SCHRODER WENDT strive for the maximum usability and interaction fun. Thus Matthias found many small and medium things to be  improved, but please keep in mind that we were sitting in front of our public BETA demo version. Another premise was, that he had a user in mind, who never had contact with 3D-programs or augmented reality before, which Unifeye Design is only peripheral – it´s mainly  addressed to information designers, thus professionals. Nevertheless, maybe in a couple of  months or years AR is so common, that there are more and more people doing their first steps. We still have this creative cloud in mind.

So I listened carefully, when Matthias went through the GUI following his standard procedure, when evaluating a software and we even reacted on some of the stated points. For example: there is a better getting started documentation now, we produced some video tutorials, enclosed FAQs to the related website and we made some usability tests with a more heterogenous target group. We want to improve Unifeye Design now step by step, day by day.

Furthermore we were talking about the definiteness of icons, tab based approaches, GUI based help and explanation, the logical assumption of function segments, the relation between the operation fields, methods to improve the workflow and many other elements of usability and interaction design. You will find many nice examples at SCHROEDER + WENDTS website and blog. With the conclusion, that for example our AttrakDiff result is not optimal and that the simplicity and the look and feel need to be improved.

Finally you – yes, you the reader with enough involvement to follow this long article – come in. This article addresses AR evangelists and enthusiasts, to go to the website: www.metaio.com/design , download the software and check it out. We would love your feedback! And turn this article about developing a “normal” user oriented augmented reality software into a never ending story. Until everybody can participate in an augmented world…

Thank you very much for your patience.


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