Augmenting Augmented Reality: Metaio Reveals 3D Depth Sensor Support for SDK 6

October 23, 2014

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Yesterday turned out to be a very big day for the world of Augmented Reality. Why? Because Metaio unveiled a few new details about the Metaio SDK 6 – support for 3D depth-sensing camera systems.

project tango and metaioFor those of you who didn’t hear the latest news about depth-sensing cameras and the enormous improvement they pose for AR technology, we’ll kindly nudge you in the direction of our previous blog post. With that refresher you’ll see why yesterday’s news is an important stepping-stone for the future of Augmented Reality.

According to Metaio CTO and co-founder, Peter Meier, “Smartphones and tablets have historically made use of single, ‘2D’ cameras primarily intended for image capture, but as smart devices have become more powerful, we are demanding more and more from the optics of these devices.With the ability to understand depth information, mobile devices will become significantly more powerful when it comes to Augmented Reality and computer vision tasks.”

With giants like Google and Intel announcing new generations of high-tech devices that are able to “see” the world in 3D via RGB-D (Red, Green, Blue, Depth) sensors, it seems natural for Metaio to support this technology on the Metaio SDK.

The video below illustrates how added 3D sensors in both a Windows tablet and an iPad make Augmented Reality much more powerful by virtually eliminating the need for markers in many use cases, and even more importantly,, solving the occlusion problem – where virtual data is incorrectly rendered into the environment.

occiptial and ipadOccipital’s Structure Sensor is one of the first devices to be supported in the Metaio SDK. According to Occipital CEO and co-founder, Jeff Powers, “We share a common goal with Metaio of allowing developers to create powerful and convincing 3D and AR experiences. It’s why we created the Structure Sensor. Metaio’s support of the Structure Sensor and SDK will bring added realism to AR experiences with real world scale and occlusion.”

This brings new possibilities in Augmented Reality gaming by enabling digital objects to react and interact with physical environments. Indoor navigation that does not require a GPS signal will be possible and precise, and scanners that can extract 3D models from the environment will no longer be a vision of the future.

Metaio’s flagship SDK will be updated to version 6.0 during InsideAR Munich, and will support depth sensor input from devices including Occipital Structure sensor and others to come in early 2015.

“Knowing that the likes of Google and Intel are heavily investing in depth-sensing camera devices, we made sure our SDK is prepared for the next big surge of of innovation that this hardware provides developers,” says Peter Meier. With development options for iOS, Android, and Windows PC, and the most advanced tracking technology available, the Metaio SDK is the most powerful Augmented Reality developer tool on the market.

There will be a  live demonstration highlighting the important benefits of RGB-D devices  during InsideAR Munich on October 29th and 30th. Just one of the many reasons to attend this year’s most exciting Augmented Reality conference. But hurry, there are only a few days left for you to secure your ticket. Don’t miss out and join us now!

Learn more at: http://www.insidear2014.com/


Phun&Dunn – Agencies Get To Work

October 22, 2014

We’ve always enjoyed working with companies to produce some amazing Augmented Reality projects. Last year, San Francisco-based agency Phun&Dunn released an app in association with Chouffe USA called “Summon the Chouffe.” You can read about it here.

Recently, we got to chat with Phun&Dunn’s team – Trevor Oldershaw (Creative Director), Tommy Giovagnoli (Creative Director), Pamela Gonzalez (Designer), and Leslie Edelman (Production) – about the Summon the Chouffe app. They were happy to share some details.


 

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What was the overall goal of the project?

chouffe family backgroundIn the world of import craft beers, it’s about connecting more deeply with a very small group of enthusiasts, rather than making a play for broad awareness. After all, a beer like Chouffe will only be distributing in relatively small quantities to a particular set of bars and restaurants that focus on better beers. So the primary goal here was to excite the brand’s entire ecosystem of distributors, accounts, and customers – enthusiasts, one and all, by giving them a very special view into the magical and legendary world of the Chouffe gnomes.

Why did you decide to use Augmented Reality?

Seeing things that aren’t really there? Somehow, AR just seems like a natural choice in context of strong Belgian beer brewed by community of 6,000 year-old forest gnomes.

StickersHow long has the project been online?

We dipped our toes into the AR water back in 2012, and then took a huge leap forward with new artwork and new technical capabilities thanks to Metaio. 

How long did development take?

The app took nearly four months to create, but that was driven as much by the creation of the original artwork and animations as the pure dev involved. Creating the app itself, including versions for iOS and Android, took roughly three months.

What resources were already available? What resources need to be created?

This was a real storytelling effort, and a real team adventure. Phun&Dunn designed all the campaign elements – copy, art, animations and fundamental app planning and design. This history and legend of Chouffe beer was a story there to be told, but it required all-new illustrations, and required us to create whole new chapters. 

Chouffe USA, experts themselves in the production of beer collateral, handled the printing of all the collateral with triggers: posters, coasters, table tents and stickers.

Technically, we based the structure from an earlier version, but rebuilt everything from the ground up with our developer-partners, Apptitude Digital. They were able to include not only the AR component that made our stories spring to life from the various triggers, but also a fun and engaging “Gnome Thyself” module that allowed users to put their own faces into the illustrated world of Chouffe. 

Master illustrator Michael Dziekan rendered the world for us, giving more detail and backstory than before. coaster part 1

What tools did you use?

Other than native platform SDK’s and standard backend management, we used Metaio’s SDK to create fast and awesome AR experience.

What were some difficulties in development? How were they handled?

Our biggest single hurdle was handling the video performance across legacy device issues in the Android ecosystem. iOS was really no problem, but Android did create some challenges as we set about supporting a number or prior releases and less robust processors on early smart phones.

choufee app uiHow was the app received?

Again, this was not a game of going viral for us. It was more about exciting and energizing a rabid core. So while a number like 1,600 downloads might not seem like a major victory, the impact felt throughout the sales channel and on premise with key accounts can’t be underestimated. The app became a true “wow” moment for everyone involved. And those who engaged did stay within the app for nearly five minutes as they enjoyed many tiny revelations while watching our small tall tales.

Was this released in conjunction with other campaigns?

Yes, this release was actually a key brand-building component for the launch of our “Summon the Chouffe” campaign. The tag line was a three-fold meaning: Summon the light-hearted spirit of the Chouffe beer within yourself; Summon a delicious Chouffe by signaling the bartender right now; and, of course, bring the gnomes of Chouffe to life before your eyes by summoning them with our AR app on your smart phone. 

Did you notice any trends?

Chouffe is still a brand that markets based on events and promotions. The brew itself is revered, and the model is to build word-of-mouth excitement. So, rest assured, usage and additional downloads spike with each new event or promotion.

cheers to chouffe


 

Thanks Phun&Dunn! We can’t wait to see what you guys develop in the future!

For any of you SF locals out there, Chouffe Fest is just around the corner. Check it out!

 

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Here are the winners of the ‘AR Toys Competition’: Once upon an AR time…

October 14, 2014

Today’s the day!! After long discussions and considerations amongst the chosen jury, the two winners of our AR Toys Competition – initiated by Toywheel and Metaio - were finally picked. The competition consisted of two different challenges, with two different rewards.

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AR Toymaker Award

The AR Toymaker Award asked for the best ideas and concepts for an Augmented Reality Toy, based on today´s already existing technology. The prizes for this category – a commercial license of a Metaio SDK or a Metaio Cloud subscription and free consulting considering game design and implementation – will enable the winner to implement the idea together with Toywheel and Metaio, bringing the concept to life. All submissions were assessed by their excitement value, the uniqueness of concept, user friendliness and their technical feasibility, setting the bar quite high for every participant.

CaptureFront and center in this category took Maria Neureither, a game design student, with her ‘myARtale’ concept; an augmented reality app for iOS and Android which enables kids aged six to twelve years to create their own storybook with AR fairytale objects. The scene can be arranged with up to five AR objects and can be captured via camera afterwards. You can unite the pictures to a storybook and add text blocks to tell your very own fairytale.

Her concept shows three different types of AR objects to create your very own storybook: characters, items and scenery sets. All 3D Models are generated via image-based tracking. The printable AR cards are to be offered online for free.

“The game encourages to be creative and artistic. Inventing a new fairytale and setting the stage can be a short or a time-consuming experience depending on the child’s interest and motivation.” says Maria.  

The camera of your mobile device captures the AR cards, which will be translated to 3D models appearing live on the screen. Two cards laid on top of each other, enable characters to hold items or appear in different settings. They will also be able to change their facial appearance and posture to make the game experience even more creative and versatile. Children will also be able to choose different-sized and shaped text boxes to describe what happens in the scene with a few sentences.

Involving the existing environment to the game as background and scenery motivates to reinvent the setting by adding toys as further characters. An endless number of stories can be told using Maria’s ‘myARtale’, giving you and your child the possibility to rewrite common fairytales however you’d like to.

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What a fascinating idea, huh?! The little characters are as cute as it gets and we are absolutely thrilled to announce Maria as the winner of the AR Toymaker Award. Her idea convinced us in every aspect of the chosen criteria.  So naturally, congratulations are in order!

We are very much looking forward to help you develop your idea further in the scope of the promised consulting days with Metaio and Toywheel.  Great job!

AR Junior Award

The AR Junior Award was targeting ‘ideas by kids for kids’. Respectively, this category asked for submissions from children and youths and  questioned how kids want to play in the future (using AR). As such it was not necessary that the idea was fully realizable from a technical standpoint. Fantasy and creativity  were keywords! Once again, the most important criteria for assessment were the uniqueness of the idea and the excitement guarantee.

MillieWe are so very glad to announce young Millie Powell as the winner of our AR Junior Award! Among all the other fantastic submissions, her exceptional concept and idea of miniature characters, accompanying you in your everyday life thrilled the jury the most. Of course, these little figures can only be seen with the help of a little bit augmented magic.

Millie’s idea is as simple as it is genius: Create your very own imaginary friend with the help of modern day technology, namely AR. By being able to customize the miniature sized creature inside the tablet or smartphone at your heart’s desire, the child would already set the basis of a long-lasting, close relationship between it and themselves.

“While the character would have an element of freewill, the user would still be able to control it and interact with it. By tapping the screen, the character would move, for example climbing stairs or running along a bookshelf.”

By capturing the surrounding area with your device’s camera, your little friend could practically do anything. Sit on your nightstand to tell you good night, for example.

Millie also suggested to introduce additional markers for the character, enabling you to extend its animations and features. Such markers could be used in many ways. They could be printable or in the form of physical toys that can be purchased and lets your character interact with them on your smart device. You could add furniture, cars, pets or even houses!

By caring for and playing with your little companion, you would be able to collect experience points (XP), which would allow your friend to level up and unlock rewards or new interactions. The possibilities are vast and extensive. Special mini games could be implemented, other players could combine their little friends on screen and the characters could even function as some kind of tutors for the child, introducing them to educational topics and tasks. One thing’s for sure – with a little creature like that in your living room, you won’t be bored anytime soon!

Thank you, Millie, for sharing this wonderful idea! Enjoy your well-earned iPad mini and commercial Metaio Creator license. And who knows – with the license, perhaps we will be able to show your finished AR-app here in the near future.

At this point, we’d like to thank everybody who participated and shared their magnificent concepts with us. We’ve seen so many extraordinary visions and ideas in the last couple of months, from AR generated Bubbles to an augmented history tour through Turkey. Unfortunately though, there can only be one winner in each category. Nevertheless, great job, everybody!

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Join us for the most exciting AR conference!

Since both of our winners receive free tickets to InsideAR Munich – the world’s most exciting Augmented Reality Conference, we hope to see you there as well! Join us October 29th/30th at the Kleine Olympiahalle Munich! Get your tickets here: www.insideAR2014.com.

Here’s a little sneak peak of what you can expect:


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 R&D Lab Releases 6D Augmented Reality Holodeck Technology to Developers

June 25, 2014

Yesterday we were revealing the world’s first 6D Holodeck technology that places virtual environments directly in the real world allowing smartphone users to explore them with their on-board cameras. We are now offering two sample source codes for the technology to developers so that they may build immersive and interactive experiences like next-generation augmented reality games.

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“Virtual and 360 experiences need true immersion,” said Metaio CTO Peter Meier. “If you’re in a virtual environment, you should be able to move around as if it were the real world; that’s what we want to enable with our 6D technology- we want to enable the Holodeck.”

But how does it work?

The 6D Augmented Reality Holodeck technology (or 6D-AR, for short), utilizes the latest Simultaneous Learning And Mapping (SLAM) algorithms working in tandem with the on-board motion sensors (IMUs) to anchor a virtual environment local to the user. Once the virtual environment is attached to the real world, the user can move and navigate in and around the virtual area as if it were there in real life, needing only the camera of their smart device.

IMG-Metaio-6D-AR-Experience-005

Metaio is releasing the source code of two 6D example projects on its developer’s portal. We are hoping that these examples inspire our developers and creatives to design next-generation augmented and virtual reality experiences, like an action game someone could play in reality itself, or immersive educational experiences like visiting foreign places or navigating an electron shell of an atom at close range.

The source code for the 6D-AR Holodeck examples is now available. Developers can download the Metaio SDK and the source code here.


Metaio Reaches 100,000 Developers

June 11, 2014

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That’s a big Twinkie

In 2011 Metaio’s CEO Thomas Alt dubbed 2014 to be the year that augmented reality would exist on every smartphone, and so far it has been an incredibly exciting year turning that statement into a reality. Between wearable-ready augmented reality softwareAR browser interoperability, and new technologies such as 3-D Spacial Occlusion and Thermal Touch, Metaio has been making waves in all aspects of the augmented reality industry. Today, we’re happy to share a new milestone: the Metaio developer community has grown to over 100,000 developers! We’re incredibly grateful to our community for being such an integral part in pushing us toward our dream of always on, always augmented.

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How much will we grow in the future?

When Metaio released a free version of the Mobile SDK at the end of 2011, it was a major turn for the developer community. Suddenly, anyone could use Metaio’s augmented reality platform. Less than a year later, we deployed the Augmented Reality Experience Language to make the SDK available for development on multiple platforms including Android, iOS, and Windows PC. The combination of a cross-platform, free for everyone SDK was ground-breaking and by June of 2013 we had over 50,000 developers using the Metaio platform, and now, within one year, Metaio doubled its developer community. Such growth in a community stands as a testament to the technology behind the Metaio platform and the growing innovation that powers the augmented reality industry. With companies such as Facebook and Google making major purchases to get ahead in the computer vision race, augmented reality stands as an industry that will help shape the future.

Thomas AWE Big Visions

Thomas Alt presenting Big Visions at AWE 2014

Here at Metaio we like to pursue augmented reality technologies and advancements not just for augmented reality’s sake, but to make augmented reality an indispensable tool that developers can leverage for their solutions, as Thomas Alt said at the closing of this year’s AWE, “don’t promote apps as augmented reality apps, do useful apps which leverage augmented reality.” This is one of the reasons why the Metaio platform is the most diverse, multi-functional augmented reality platform available. With the newest augmented reality R&D pushed straight out to the developer community (after some polishing of course) and a constantly evolving technology platform that encompasses both hardware and software, the Metaio platform has the widest variety of tools available for developers. As the only platform to offer edge-based tracking, point cloud tracking, an internal renderer, gravity alignment, and extended tracking along with support for Unity and other proprietary rendering engines, SLAM tracking, and several additional features available on the SDK and other supporting and/or independent software solutions such as the Metaio Creator and Continuous Visual Search, Metaio is the true innovative leader in augmented reality.

But this milestone could not have been achieved without the some of the most important people in the AR community: our developers. We’d like to extend our thanks and congratulations to our entire community; we couldn’t have reached this milestone without your dedication to make the Metaio community the most diverse, successful AR community in the world. Thanks everyone! We look forward to pushing the boundaries of augmented reality technology!

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Into the Wild: Metaio goes Re:publica

April 14, 2014

Nothing is as it once seemed.

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Another year has passed and it’s finally time for Germany’s biggest social media conference again: Re:publica is taking place from May 6 -8 in Berlin. Last year more than 5.000 attendees discussed, over the course of three days, internet policy, network neutrality and the future of social media campaigns.

Augmented Reality was also a hot topic, as you can read in our review from the 2013 Re:publica. This year we join Re:publica again and even have our own booth in the main hall which all people have to enter before spreading out to the keynote and session halls. On Wednesday, May 7, we will offer a short presentation on stage 3 between 12.30 – 1.30 pm: Anett Gläsel-Maslov, Manager PR & Social Media at Metaio, will present our company and some of our latest projects.

About the motto “Into the wild”:

rp14_banner_300x250_1“Re:publica 2014’s motto INTO THE WILD highlights various points of departure for solutions in the internet of the near future. When algorithms turn us transparent and controllable through predictability, perhaps we have to become more unpredictable; dissolving old structures, veering from the well-trodden path in favour of chaos and irrationality, heading INTO THE WILD. Yet this begs the questions: how will we navigate and find one another? How can one whisper into the global net and, in particular, with whom? Will those calling for a free and unrestricted internet not have to face being ever more vigilant and controlling of those who may partake and those who must stay out?

While the omni-surveilled net may have become draughty it will continue to protect its vital interests, learn to sidestep and manoeuvre and continue to develop. During the build-up to re:publica 2014, we will extend INTO THE WILD in search of unexpected technical solutions, surprising impulses stemming from business and politics and look forward to new, unbridled internet culture.” (Source: http://www.re-publica.de)

Looking forward to meeting you in Berlin! 

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Watch the video for impressions from the 2013 edition of Re:publica:


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