Virtual Technologies are on the move & Mark Zuckerberg dreams of Augmented Reality

March 28, 2014

It’s a decisive time for tech industries and we were overwhelmed and thrilled by the announcement of the Metaio AREngine, the developer version of the  Google Glass, Apple buying PrimeSense and Intel announcing RealSense. Intel’s proclamation in Las Vegas to integrate our 3-D tracking technology into the RealSense platform was a huge step for us.  We’ve noticed an tremendous growth in usage, development and interest in Augmented Reality and two major topics around AR dominated 2013: Enterprise and Wearble Computing. The purpose of all these technologies is after all to make our life easier and more natural. But it still takes more money and brains to come closer to this vision.

Oculus Rift at 2013 InsideAR

Oculus Rift at 2013 InsideAR

This week  two announcements rocked the market: HTC bringing out the new HTC One (M8) with a depth-of-field sensor and great possibilities to AR makers. And the huge giant Facebook  who surprised with the announcement two days ago that they will buy Oculus VR, the company developing the Oculus Rift HMD. 

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, says: “By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, virtual and augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.” For sure!

We’ve asked Peter Meier, CTO and founder of Metaio and a visionary by heart, to talk in an interview about the latest news and to consider them in the context for Augmented Reality:


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.


Meet us at the Mobile World Congress! #MWC14

February 21, 2014

It’s time for Barcelona!

Kristina_1

On Monday morning the 2014 Mobile World Congress starts and we prepared thrilling demos to showcase the latest innovations in the Augmented Reality business to you – for smartphones, for wearables (Google Glass, Vuzix & Epson glasses), for any possible device. We will show 3-D camera interfaces for augmented reality along with the latest in enterprise and wearable experiences. Our visitors to the Metaio booth in the App Planet, Hall 8.1, Booth 8.1G47, will get see how Augmented Reality is truly “creating what’s next” at the world’s largest mobile conference.

tabletThis year’s Mobile World Congress arrives at the dawn of the 3-D camera. Apple has acquired PrimeSense; NVIDIA has announced partnerships with SoftKinetic for embedded cameras; and Intel has announced the future embedding of RealSense 3-D cameras in Ultrabooks and other devices. Adding depth to interactive mobile experiences will provide all new capabilities in augmented reality, including 3-D reconstruction, dynamic occlusion and brand-new tracking for consumer and enterprise experiences.

“3-D cameras will soon arrive on mobile devices,” said Metaio CTO Peter Meier. “Developers and businesses alike will be able to take advantage of this new technology through the support for 3-D cameras in the Metaio SDK. This year in Barcelona we are showcasing how we have adapted our core technology to support this new wave of 3-D integration, while also demonstrating the power of silicon integration, especially with regard to a wearable future. AR has already shown usefulness and value in both enterprise and consumer sectors, and we will continue to lead the way in innovation for 2014.”

3-D integration opens up numerous possibilities for everyday use: consumers could visualize products in home without the need for markers or printouts; utilize gestures to interact with their devices and the real world; reconstruct or modify entire environments; or even create 3-D models on the fly that could be pushed to 3-D printing devices.

Metaio is already working with companies like SAP and Intel to bring the next generation of augmented reality to developers and users through mobile devices, wearable technology and embedded 3-D cameras.

Intel_games

(Image courtesy: Intel)

“Intel has been collaborating this year with Metaio to showcase the power of combining Intel platforms with augmented reality, which can be seen at MWC 2014,” said Prasad Modali, Intel Principle Engineer. “We look forward to continuing these efforts to further blend the virtual and real worlds in the near future.”

Metaio collaborated with Intel to produce groundbreaking apps specifically for Intel mobile devices, which visitors will experience at the Intel booth, App Planet: Hall 8.1, booth #E41:

  • “Portal Run”: a brand-new digital AR table-top game that utilizes instant SLAM tracking to allow players to play in any environment, anywhere. No board, marker (or even table) necessary.

Visitors to the Metaio booth at MWC will experience:

    • The first hands-free augmented reality maintenance utilizing wearable computing- step-by-step instructions visualized through Epson Moverio BT-200 and Google Glass
  • The new AREngine, the next generation of the first ever AR hardware IP, with 6000% faster initialization and 80% reduction in power consumption on silicon
  • Next-generation AR experiences that utilize 3-D and depth cameras for real-time 3-D tracking and reconstruction
  • The latest in enterprise and consumer demos, featuring experiences from IKEA, Audi, and Mitsubishi Electric

To try out the technology behind the booth demonstrations, sign up for a free Metaio account and download the Metaio SDK at http://my.metaio.com.

If you cannot attend MWC, you have at least the chance to stay up to date with our latest issue of the InsideAR magazine: here.

See you in Barcelona and keep following us on Facebook for pictures from MWC! 


Metaio at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: Win your free ticket now!

January 28, 2014

MWC_2013_1

The MWC in Barcelona is always a great opportunity to meet us in person. This year we are in the App World, Hall 8.1 booth 8.1G47 where we will showcase our greatest projects from last year and preview new and exciting plans for the future. Visitors to the 2014 Mobile World Congress will be treated to live demonstrations of Metaio’s technology and experience first-hand the benefits of Augmented Reality hardware integration with the AREngine. For more information about Metaio, please visit www.metaio.com.

It could be your lucky day – Win one of ten free tickets for MWC!

In the next couple of days you will have a chance to win your own ticket for the MWC. Just keep following our Facebook Pages (English or German). Comment on our Facebook post and tell us why you want to go to MWC.

If you make a convincing case, a ticket could be yours and we’ll meet you in person in Barcelona!

MWC_2013_4


Enabling Augmented Reality with Stronger Hardware – A Review from InsideAR 2013

November 22, 2013
Metaio augmented reality hardware, AREngine

Power Overwhelming

Before we continue our series of reviews from InsideAR 2013 we have a question for you: what allows always on, always augmented? Powerful Hardware! Take a seat and watch as Neil Trevett of NVIDIA, Ofri Wechsler of Intel, Paul Evans of Imagination Technologies, Deborah Meduna of Sensor Platforms and Markus Tremmel of Metaio give their impressions on the future of augmented reality hardware.

Neil Trevett, NVIDIA: Silicon Innovation and APIs for Mobile Augmented Reality

Neil has spent over thirty years in the 3-D graphics industry and is currently responsible for driving the apps ecosystem on NVIDIA Tegra mobile devices. Neil is also the elected President of the Khronos Group where he initiated the Open GL ES standard, helped create the WebGL initiative and chairs the OpenCL and EGL working groups. Khronos is defining open, international standards for advanced compute, graphics, camera, vision and sensor processing on a wide range of mobile, embedded and desktop systems – many of which will for the foundation for accelerated Augmented Reality applications.

Ofri Wechsler, Intel: AR Acceleration – Challenges and Opportunities

Ofri Wechsler joined Intel in 1988 and served in many architecture related roles throughout the recent 25 years. Until 3 years ago, Ofri served as the architecture lead of Intel’s Israel Design Center and was responsible for defining and delivering the architecture of many successful products such as Intel’s first mobile CPU (code named Centrino), Intel’s first dual core processor (Yonah), Intel’s first converged server-mobile architecture (Intel’s Core™), Intel’s first integrated GFX CPU (code named Sandy Bridge) and many others. 3 years ago, when Intel formed the Visual and Parallel Group Ofri transitioned to lead VPG architecture focusing on media, imaging, computer vision and high performance computing. The recent Haswell and IvyBridge products are a great demonstration of Intel’s capabilities in the media and imaging space. Ofri is working closely with the Mobile Computing Group to make Intel’s media, imaging and computer vision solutions are optimized for mobile usage.

Paul Evans, Imagination Technologies: Improving the Augmented Reality Experience

Paul Evans joined Imagination Technologies in January 2012 as the Business Development Manager responsible for the CPU division and Cloud Services. Prior to joining Imagination, Paul worked for Altera Corporation for 11 years, most recently as the Senior Marketing Product Line Manager for Altera’s mid-range Arria family FPGA series. Prior to Altera, Paul acted as Technical Services Manager for Ometron Ltd. where he established Ometron’s technical services department. Paul has also held engineering positions at Image Automation Inc. and Smiths Inudstries Ltd. He holds a BEng in digital electronic engineering from the University of Kent at Canterbury in England.

Deborah Meduna, Sensor Platforms: Integrating Pedestrian Dead Reckoning with Computer Vision Localization

Deborah Meduna is the lead engineer of context-aware and localization algorithms in the Sensor Platform‘s FreeMotion™ Library. Prior to joining Sensor Platforms, she developed terrain based localization algorithms for her doctoral research. Using this work, she enabled beacon-free navigation capabilities on sensor limited and computationally constrained autonomous underwater vehicles at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S in Aeronautics & Astronautics from Stanford University and a B.S. in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College. This presentation shows the results from fusing PDR from the Senor Platform’s FreeMotion™ Library with a computer vision engine on a standard Android device. The combination of these sub-systems increase accuracy compared to vision-based localization alone, especially where the vision system loses track due to camera occlusion (e.g. the device is in a pocket) or from rapid device motions. In addition, the vision system can assist PDR when it loses track due to an absence of steps.

Some crazy stuff, right? Stay tuned for more InsideAR 2013 reviews or check out our Youtube channel for the complete collection.


Press Release: Metaio & Vuzix to Showcase AR-Ready Smart Glasses at the 2013 Augmented World Expo

May 30, 2013

Apps built on world’s first software developer kit for wearable computing from Metaio to run on Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses

San Francisco, CA – 30 May 2013: Metaio, the world leader in augmented reality (AR) software and solutions and Vuzix Corporation, (OTCBB:VUZI) a leading developer and supplier of smart glasses, will join forces to showcase AR experiences built on the powerful Metaio SDK running on the AR-Ready Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses, at one of the largest gathering of AR professionals, the 2013 Augmented World Expo (AWE), June 4-5 in Santa Clara, CA.

Metaio’s AR software is currently used by over 30 million consumers and 50,000 developers, powering more than 1,000 apps for enterprise, marketing, retail, publishing and industrial markets. Vuzix’ products, including its smart glasses, have won 14 Consumer Electronics Show Innovations Awards. With its origins in defense research and development for next generation display solutions, Vuzix is a technology leader and early entrant in the Smart Glasses field

Metaio, an AWE Silver Sponsor, will be demonstrating the latest in next-generation AR at its booth at AWE, including numerous apps built with the Metaio SDK, the first SDK ready for wearable computing- as shown by its compatibility with the powerful and lightweight Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses.

“Wearable computing is the next step for natural, useful Augmented Reality,” said Metaio CTO Peter Meier. “In order to realize the dream of an always on, always augmented world, it is important to have software for developers ready, today, for smart glasses like the Vuzix M100.”

“Metaio has always been at the cutting-edge of the AR industry,” said Vuzix CEO Paul Travers. “The fact that their software and apps run on this hardware out-of-the-box is further proof that the M100 Smart Glasses are already primed to deliver real-time, hands-free instant augmentations of a user’s reality.”

Metaio will conduct extensive R&D to continue to adapt its powerful augmented reality SDK to be compatible with the next generation of wearable computing devices. To download the newest version of the Metaio SDK, visit http://www.metaio.com/sdk

To learn more about the Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses, visithttp://www.vuzix.com/consumer/products_m100.html

Vuzix_M100

About Metaio

The worldwide leader in Augmented Reality (AR) research and technology, Metaio develops software products for visually interactive solutions between the real and the virtual world. Based on the Metaio Augmented Reality platform, digital and 3-D content can be integrated seamlessly into the user’s camera view looking upon the real world. Serving over 50.000 developers and powering over 1,000 apps for enterprise, marketing, retail, publishing and industrial cases, over 30 Million consumers use Metaio’s AR software. Learn more at www.metaio.com

About Vuzix Corporation

Vuzix is a leading supplier of video and cloud connected video eyewear products in the consumer, industrial, media and entertainment markets. The company’s personal display products offer users a portable high quality viewing experience for industrial wearable displays, consumer digital content viewing as well as 3D, virtual and augmented reality experiences. Vuzix also provides developer software and support to enable the growth and development of AR applications for its mobile devices. With its origins in defense research and development for next generation display solutions, Vuzix holds over 44 patents and patents pending in the video eyewear field. The company has won 14 Consumer Electronics Show Innovations Awards, the RetailVision Best New Product and several wireless technology innovation awards, among others. Founded in 1997, Vuzix is a public company (TSX-V:VZX – News, OTC:BB: VUZI, FMB: V7X) with offices in Rochester, NY, Oxford, UK and Tokyo, Japan. For more information visit www.vuzix.com.


Vote For Metaio for the 2013 Auggies!

May 17, 2013

Sorta reminds me of this.

It’s that time of year again, as the Augmented World Expo has renewed and expanded the annual award for the best of the best in the augmented reality industry, the “Auggies”. Previously consisting of only a single award, the competition now has 6 categories, and Metaio and its partners are competing in 4 of them!

For the next two weeks, awards will be open to public voting in order to narrow down the entries for each category to just 5 finalists. We’re competing against some of the best and most creative apps in the world, we’d love your support. Please take a moment to vote for our entries (individual links are listed below), or just click on one of the category buttons below to go straight to the entry.

    

And while you’re at it, we’d love for you to support our amazing partners working with our technology:

Here’s a look back at the our winning submission from the 2012 Auggies, 3-D object recognition and tracking:

Once again, thanks for your support in making Metaio the best Augmented Reality Company out there!


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