Metaio Rocks Adobe MAX!

October 10, 2014
Courtesy of Adobe

Courtesy of Adobe

wall of art

Just the smallest tidbit of art seen at MAX.

This week saw the coming and going of Adobe MAX 2014 – Adobe’s annual convention and expo. For the first time, Metaio was pleased to be a bronze sponsor for the event. MAX attracts over 5,000 creative professionals from all around the world and brings them together in Los Angeles in celebration of their craft while providing an in-depth refresher on all that’s new in the world of technology and design. It’s a time of year where the deadline weary, logo crafting, DPI insistent design types shrug off their busy jobs and join together to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the design industry.

One Part Conference, One Part Awesome

monster model

Ma always said I had a face for Hollywood.

MAX is one part conference, one part celebration. While workshops and seminars run on an intense schedule throughout the five day event, there’s plenty of fun to go around. Photoshop maniacs competed in Sapient Nitro’s Battle of the Hands to see who could create the best movie poster….with only eight minutes! Doodle walls, creativity zones, and even an arcade decorated the expo floor to keep the creative juices flowing outside the classes. To top it all off, all attendees were invited to an indulgent MAX Bash party featuring food and drinks galore. To top THAT off, Adobe brought in the Kings of Leon to play for everyone in a hip, modern outdoor venue. MAX certainly nailed it with the right balance of work & play.

Making Augmented Reality Easy

By combing the power of the Metaio Creator with InDesign,  creating Augmented Reality becomes even easier for designers.

By combing the power of the Metaio Creator with InDesign, creating Augmented Reality becomes even easier for designers.

Metaio also brought something special to this event: an entirely new software product – the Metaio AR Creator plugin for InDesign. The plugin works directly in Adobe’s software, and we thought it would be a great way to tap into the huge creative community of Adobe users to join in building content in the AR world. We had a great response to the software and an overall shock that creating AR scenarios was so easy – whether it be with the Metaio Creator or the new InDesign plugin. Metaio definitely opened some eyes and spurred some imagination at the event!

Designing for the Future

Look what we found.

I spy, with my little eye, some people relaxing on the job.

As MAX approached an end, Adobe hosted a sneak preview event to show off what technology is in the pipeline for future products. This is where things got really Sci-Fi. Adobe researchers demoed a tool that could change the time of day in a photo. Took a photo at night and want to see what it would have looked like at noon? One button click and the image magically changes. Another Adobe researcher  announced “Project Layup“, an app that finally takes mobile seriously and has thought about touch interface from the ground up. The researchers also demoed the “3D Photo Magic” app – a demo that superimposes 3D furniture into an image of a room (sound familiar?). It was certainly interesting to see what lies ahead for Adobe, and it was even more exciting to see that much of it relies on making our computers better at understanding images.

Winding Down

Adobe MAX 2014 was inspiring, exciting and exhausting all at once. Augmented Reality was extremely well received by the Adobe user community, and we are really excited to see what amazing work will come. Our work doesn’t stop there though. Now that MAX is behind us it’s time to get excited for another major gathering – Metaio’s own InsideAR! In just a few weeks we ramp up all the excitement again for a celebration of all things Augmented and come together with over 1,000 AR professionals to discuss the future of Augmented Reality. Learn more about InsideAR here. Tickets are still available – see you there!

Cheers from the Metaio team (and photobomber)!

Cheers from the Metaio team (and photobomber)!


As Easy as Coloring by Numbers – Metaio AR Creator InDesign Plugin

October 2, 2014

Guest post by Vanessa Oswald

indesignAttention, Creative Cats!

Metaio has been striving to make Augmented Reality (AR) more accessible to more content creating communities – designers, programmers, artists, publishers, etc. As a part of that mission, Metaio has created the perfect solution for all you creative geniuses out there: the Metaio AR Creator Plugin for Adobe’s InDesign. By bringing AR authoring tools to familiar software, Metaio opens up the AR community to those who might not have previously known about the tools to make AR. As SVP of Metaio’s Product Development team, Michael Kuhn, said, “By providing easy-to-learn AR functionality right inside Adobe InDesign, we are giving millions of creative professionals the ability to create original Augmented Reality experiences.”

The plugin rundown is fairly simple: it allows you to insert 2-D augmented content into your very own professional work with just a few clicks. All you have to do is open your project, analyze if your project is suitable for being properly tracked by smart devices, and create an additional AR-layer to add the content you want to be augmented. If you’ve used the Metaio Creator you’ll notice a familiar ranking system that will indicate how well your pages will track, allowing you to apply small changes on the spot.The plugin then allows you to export your project into the Creator, where you can make additional changes and position the content exactly the way you want it to appear. The options are virtually endless: Include videos, photos, graphics or a simple hyperlink and enhance your new and old projects with augmented, multidimensional craziness.

Watch the video below for a quick demonstration of the InDesign plugin.

It’s easy, it’s fast and it definitely looks cool, what more is there to say? Well actually. . . did I mention it’s free!  Yes, I’m not kidding. You can download the plugin in the Adobe Exchange Store, as well as in the Metaio Store.

You can count on Metaio not to stop here! As these new open community-accessible tools become stronger and more common, expect to see AR become more and more common among creative types everywhere!

We’ll give live demonstrations of the plugin next week at Adobe Max – the largest Adobe conference of the year, held in Los Angeles October 4th through 8th.

And of course, don’t forget to visit us at InsideAR on October 29th & 30th in Munich.

Enjoy the plugin! We are looking forward to seeing your augmented pieces of art!


Don’t have 3D models? Try 2.5D!

August 26, 2014

Many of the best AR apps incorporate 3D effects in some way or another. Embedded videos, link and images are cool, but it’s that 3D content that really delights the user visually. Why then, isn’t everyone implementing more 3D content into their apps?

The problem lies in content creation. Even in this high-tech day and age, it is still relatively difficult for the average person to create 3D models. While companies such as Autodesk have made great efforts to bring 3D authoring tools to the masses, there is still a way to go before impressive 3D content can be created quickly and easily by a casual user.

That being said, there is a nice alternative that can be used by just about anyone to create a 3D effect without actually having any 3D modelling skills or even owning 3D graphics software. By arranging traditional 2D images in a 3D space, we can achieve pretty neat 3D effects – 2.5D if you will (“faux-D” anyone?…..anyone?). Shown below is a great example of “faux-D” in action:

Metaio Xmas card using 2.5D

Scan with Junaio !

So what does it take to create a 2.5D experience?

It’s actually very simple – with some basic image editing skills and knowledge of Metaio Creator, it is possible to build a 2.5D experience very easily. Here’s a quick guide:

Step 1: Gather your image assets.

Your images are the most important part of the experience. Unlike standard image files, we want them to have a “cardboard cutout” effect. In order to achieve this, a little photo-editing is required. In your favorite editing tool (I like Paint.net – intuitive, powerful, and free!), simply trim around the edges of your illustration or photo and save it as a PNG file with transparent background. This means that when the image file is viewed, all of the “white space” will be completely transparent. If this is already starting to sound scary – don’t fret! There are some great tutorials available online like this one.

Step 2: Arrange your scene.

Using Metaio Creator it is possible to quickly arrange a 3D scene using your images. Firstly, fire up Creator and choose your tracking marker. You can then go ahead and import your images. They will appear to sit flush on the page to begin with.

Images flush to marker

Images flush to marker

From here, make sure you are using the 3D view mode which can be activated in the left corner.

In the 3D view mode, you are presented a 3-dimensional axis that allows you to drag your image in any direction. From here we can begin arranging the content not just upwards and side-to-side, but also back-and-forth. Varying the depth of the images will create our 3D effect. Remember, if you need to rotate the images, you can click on the blue circle to cycle through translation, rotation and scaling functions. Give it a try!

Manipulate with the 3 arrows

Manipulate with the 3 arrows

 

Step 3: Experiment

Try experimenting with different depths and angles of your images for the best 3D effect. If you need some more inspiration, check out this really great work done for Starbucks Japan or check out the video of the AR Children’s book created by Junaio developer Daniel Ortega:

Note: The demo in this post can be accessed via this tracking pattern: 2.5D marker


AR Toys Competition Jury Member #4: Introducing Pati Keilwerth

July 2, 2014

All great things come to an end.

LP_AR_toys competitionNEU 1

The submission deadline for the AR Toys Competition from Toywheel and Metaio was on Monday this week and we want to specially thank all AR fans who submitted their ideas! There are great proposals and we are now checking and evaluating all of them very carefully. Our great Jury will then carefully select their favorites and we will let you know as soon as they decide the winner of the AR Junior Award and the  AR Toymaker award!

In the meantime, we would like to continue by introducing our 4th member of the awesome AR Jury …..drum roll…..

Pati_KeilworthPati Keilwerth: A storyteller par excellence

PATI KEILWERTH after finishing law school at the University Passau, was hired to coordinate the protocol of the Berlin Film Festival. She continued working for the Berlinale in various departments and for the Broadcaster rbb and some media labs – all while also studying Audiovisual Media Science at the Filmschool HFF “Konrad Wolf” in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Directly after her diploma with a thesis on international Co-Production she began employment with German filmmaker and playwright Wim Wenders.

After a three-year tenure as Wim Wenders’s Executive Assistant, she embarked on new terrain in the media industry and has been engaged in cross media and interactive storytelling ever since. The past two years she worked for RTL Disney in the online department and focuses now on projects with PATISSERIE FILM.

AR Toys competition is awesome because…

“…I’m happy to be invited to be part of the Jury. In the past years I have been very involved with interactive storytelling, games and digital toys for kids and we also frequently tested some augmented reality features with kids. They had a lot of fun. So I’m curious to see what new app ideas there are and which of these I would like to try out with the kids of my friends and family.”

Thank you, Pati for supporting us!


Metaio and Toywheel Launch Global “AR Toys Competition”

May 12, 2014

The world of children is changing with digital technology

Logo_AR_ToysMetaio and the Berlin-based development studio Toywheel launch the first global augmented reality development competition for toys and children’s games. The six-week competition will focus on the future of children’s entertainment, both in the toys themselves and how children will interact with digital media. Participation is open to both developers and non-developers, designers and even children , teenagers and parents with interesting ideas on the use of AR technology in the space.

The “AR Toys Competition” is open to anyone who wishes to participate, especially those interested in augmented reality and the use of emerging technology. Metaio and Toywheel welcome all ideas, from simple concepts to actual working demonstrations, along with detailed proposals for how the would be applied in real life situations. Ultimately, a panel of AR experts will judge the awards in all categories in order to award the winners.

Augmented Reality attaches digital content through the live camera feed of a smartphone or tablet PC device, enabling the virtual world to fuse with the real world of a child. Metaio has amazing AR technology that allows developers like Toywheel to create immersive and entertaining experiences focusing on engaging and educating young people. The competition will ask specifically for ideas and concepts pertaining to children ages 6-12.

“We are very happy to collaborate with Metaio to host this innovative competition,” said Evgeni Kouris, CEO of Toywheel. “We’ve noticed that with AR apps like our “Toy Car RC” children easily perceive the connection between digital and physical in their natural spirit of curiosity and discovery.”

Our main aim is to show the many uses of the augmented reality technologies in the learning and entertainment of children, and encourage developers and applicants to bring real-world elements like weather, surroundings, locations and more into their games and experiences.

Toywheel's Toy Car RC application for kids is now available!

Toywheel’s Toy Car RC application for kids is now available!

 “Metaio and Toywheel are prioritizing experiences for young people,” said Matthias Greiner, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Metaio. “We’re looking for experiences that bring fun and creativity to digital media and the Augmented  Reality industry.”

The competition is split into two categories: The “AR Toymaker Award” targeted at adults is looking for implementable ideas based on the current state of technology. This award comes with prizes valued at € 25.000 such as support from Metaio and Toywheel bringing the idea to live, Metaio licenses and on top of it an invitation to InsideAR, the world’s leading augmented reality conference, October 29-30 in Munich, Germany. The “AR Junior Award” will be given to the best concept submitted by a child (with the assistance of his or her parents or guide). The child will be awarded an iPad Mini and a full professional license for the Metaio Creator, a drag & drop AR creation tool for non-developers – enabling everyone to easily start creating own “AR Toys”.

Applicants may submit their proposals, ideas and concepts to: http://www.metaio.com/ar-toys-competition/ or http://toywheel.com/ar-toys. The submission ends June 15th, 2014, and is open to the international community.

Have fun creating your ideas!

AR_Toys_Comp2

 


Join our today’s webinar on Interactive Museums!

April 24, 2014

If you still want to join, here is the registration link.

Webinar

Today we are hosting another webinar: This time we will talk about our Augmented Reality Museums tour for the Bavarian National Museum and give you an insight into all technical details starting on Thursday, April 24, 2014 – 8am PST/5pm CET.

The webinar will contain:

  • Use case for museums and augmented reality, elaborating on specific examples from the DLD project.
  • Creative implementation- mostly the role of the Metaio Creator and Metaio Toolbox.
  • Time permitting, we’ll go over some of the technical AREL implementation that tied the project together.

Feel free to send your questions live during the show with the Twitter hashtag #metaioARmt. We will be happy to answer them in the Q&A sesssion at the end of the webinar.
In preparation for the webinar you can read through our two blogstories already:

Hosted by: Matthias Greiner, Senior Product Marketing Manager

Since 2010, Matthias has been responsible for Junaio- the company’s mobile augmented reality browser platform. He mostly works with creation, use, or  marketing for mobile AR advertising and consumer applications.

Hosted by: Kevin Nally, Junior Design Team Member

Kevin Nally is an in-house illustrator at Metaio. He joined us in 2013 to work on concept images and proposals for AR projects within the services and sales departments.

Hosted by: Nicolai Georg, Research and Development

Nico has been working for Metaio since September 2013 on the project team, where his main focus is on AREL/web technologies. His interest in augmented reality stems from his thesis work in AR Interactions and games.


Technical insight into the 2014 DLD Museum Tour: An Augmented Reality exhibit for the Bavarian National Museum

April 17, 2014

This week we offered once again an Augmented Reality museum walk through together with the Bavarian National Museum in Munich and were overwhelmed by all the attention we got afterwards via different blogs (like in the Huffington Post Germany )and in the social networks. This attention shows that the topic of Augmented Reality is really interesting both for the museums themselves and also for the visitors. Therefore, we decided to give you a more technical insight into our museum project and asked our developers to talk about the development of our application. Here it is:

Alexei, Nicolai & Kevin - Developers of the Museums AR Experience

Alexei, Nicolai & Kevin – Developers of the Museums AR Experience

Hello, my name is Kevin and I am a member of the creative team here at Metaio.  I worked together with my colleagues Alexei and Nicolai to create the assets and code for the DLD Bavarian National Museum AR experience. 

Built in a very short time, the Bavarian National Museum application was a great opportunity to create a valuable cultural experience with AR technology. It aimed to create a balanced user experience between physical and digital content that could inform and entertain the average museum visitor. We  focused on five pre-selected exhibition pieces and  unveiled them as part of the DLD Conference in Munich.

The Metaio Toolbox: Easily creating 3-D tracking maps

The first step to develop the project was to visit the museum itself in order to come up with some ideas and generate our 3-D tracking maps with the Metaio Toolbox .  Many of the assets would be created off-site so establishing an accurate reference that we could use back in the office was important. This was easy to do with the Metaio Toolbox, and within 2-3 attempts we had a satisfactory 3-D tracking model that we could later use in the Metaio Creator . We could also load our point-clouds into Autodesk products for designing more complicated 3-D content by extracting them as an OBJ file from the Metaio Creator.

During our discussions with the museums curators there was concern that the new digital content would take attention away from the physical artifacts, so we set out to create a design that would keep a respectful balance between the cultural artifacts of the museum and the new digital information we were introducing into the environment. To achieve this we kept AR content to the sides of the physical objects, used discreet 3-D white lines as indicators and semi-transparent backgrounds for our buttons and texts.

The AR pieces in detail:

untitled-3756Tilman Riemenschneider: The Mary Magdalene

In the Mary Magdalene scenario we introduced to the user an audio explanation of the piece, some general background information and a photographic overlay that showed the sculpture’s past place of residence (a church altar that was color-corrected in order to better match the lighting scheme of the room).

 

untitled-3776Conrad Meit’s “Judith with the head of Holofernes.”

In the Judith scenario we connected pieces of explanatory text to the model with 3-D white lines. Supported by a particularly strong 3-D map, the experience provided a great sense of depth and space to the user without distracting from the physical object. In order to ensure that the lines were a pleasant shape and length we imported the reference point cloud into Maya before constructing the 3-D lines.

untitled-3788Jakob Sandtner: The Munich City Model

The Munich city model was a real challenge to us because the lighting conditions in the room were very difficult. Due to the sensitive state of some of the historical pieces, strong lights were not allowed in this particular room. This meant that getting a good 3-D map and lining up content to the physical model involved a lot of trial and error. But we managed, and in the end visitors could see an overlaying map of today’s Munich.

untitled-3803Christoph Jamnitzer: The Moor’s Head

The Moor’s head cup contained three nice reference images of the interior and base of the cup which were not viewable to the visitor. In order to display them and not take away from the physical model we created a thumbnail effect that shrank and grew the images when the user tapped on them. This was done by overlaying the images on to a 3-D object and adding a simple on-click animation in the Metaio Creator along with an additional piece of code to allow for a secondary on-click animation.

untitled-3794Hubert Gerhard: Flying Mercury

In the case of Flying Mercury we displayed large images of other artworks created by the artist. They are “floating” around the sculpture.

Balancing AR and non-AR content

AR tablet experiences have a short viewing time in comparison to other media due to the energy required for navigating the physical space. In a museum there are many different people who are enjoying the exhibition at different paces. To create a more fulfilling experience, we needed to support each AR scenario with a non-AR content section: something people could easily switch to while sitting down and relaxing. This non-AR section contained text, audio and video and was accessible through a button on the bottom of the AR viewing screen. It was built by creating an offline webpage that was then integrated into the AR experience.

A developer’s point of view

Nicolai’s thoughts:

This AR scenario was very generous from a developer’s point of view. Its value derives from the simplicity and unobtrusive way of visualizing the additional, well designed content. In this case it means to me that the design and arrangement of the content together with the stable tracking already contributes a lot to this experience. For this AR experience my colleagues finalized the concepts and designed the assets, as well as combined and positioned everything with the help of the Metaio Creator. The effort as a developer was therefore quite manageable.

untitled-3764My part in this was to integrate the designed webpages and connect them to the exhibits. Those webpages functioned as a user interface, enabling the user to see detailed information and multimedia items. The combination of those webpages into one user interface is fairly straightforward. The user interface basically is a single webpage on top of the camera feed. The Metaio AREL bridge allows you to connect to the underlying renderer with the included JavaScript code.

First of all, the information elements had to be connected to the exhibits. This is done by listening to the respective tracking event. When the event is fired, the according HTML elements are shown.  The difference from regular websites is mainly keeping everything within one HTML file. The CSS and JavaScript files can be included there as well. So instead of linking to another page, these other webpage elements were included into the one HTML overlay file. On request, certain elements are hidden or shown. When it comes to best practice, HTML editors and templates can be a great help when designing those HTML elements. Integrating those files for the overlay, however, can be slow due to the produced overhead in including styles and linking in the first place. Within the web overlay you have all the possibilities that HTML5 has to offer. Next to the AREL API this scenario uses standard HTML5 technology like video and audio tags to include even more media content.

In the end, the AREL Technology enables you to easily create slick and effective user interfaces for your AR scenarios.


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