Unifeye Design 2.5 Now Available

October 10, 2011

metaio is pleased to announce that the latest version of our Design software is now available for download.

Once again, AR is neither a sci-fi fantasy nor something limited to gimmicky one-off applications. Our design software enables anyone with a Windows PC to produce rich, interactive content. Our clients and partners use Design in trade shows, integrated marketing campaigns, classrooms, commercial applications, internal demonstrations and much more.

If you’re not already familiar with Design, you may have heard about our wonderful project with LEGO, now deployed in every LEGO-branded store in the world.

For the new 2.5 update we’ve rolled out the following updates:

  • New features:
    • Facetracking: for tracking a users face and overlaying3D content (e.g. hats, glasses etc.)
    • Extensible tracking: for tracking in unknown environments the system automatically creates and updates an internal map of features for tracking based on the camera image. This allows you to move around freely with your camera and the system adjusts on the fly.
  • Markerless tracking: Improved performance and stability
  • Licensing: Licenses can be moved to another PC (only full version)
  • Uses new version of BsContact renderer (7.2.2.0). For a list of features see the release notes on the Bitmanagement website.
  • Several bugfixes for Unifeye and the Workflow Authority GUI

For more information, please see our web store and our extensive documentation on all of our software.

Update

A Design license (post-activation) is bound to the user’s PC, so moving / transferring the license is not allowed. There are however cases where a user would need to transfer a license, such as when uploading to a new machine. Starting with Design 2.5, license holders will have the ability to transfer their licenses twice. 

To send a request or purchase a license dongle, contact sales (at) metaio (dot) com.

To transfer your license, go here. Enter your activation key and click Get Licenses.

 


Augmented Reality On Every Smartphone by 2014

October 5, 2011

If you haven’t heard from TechCrunch, Dexigner, or Augmented.org, 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.

Magic.


The World’s First Reverse Vending Machine

June 30, 2011

Last week, Mayors from around the United States gathered for the 79th United States Mayor Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Unlike the last 78 USCM’s, the mayors this year got to experience a device that is the first of its kind: Recyclable Planet‘s Augmented Reality Reverse Vending Machine, powered by metaio’s Unifeye Platform and with the help of German vending firm trautwein sb technik.

Reverse vending machine? Yes! It rewards you for using it, and most importantly, for doing your part to help the environment. The concept is simple, much like redemption machines that already exist around the US where you can redeem recyclables for a small bonus, usually around 0.05 per item, depending on state regulations. This new “Green Machine” is universal- users can be rewarded with prizes and discounts at local retailers, just for recycling. Even better, these impressive devices come equipped with interactive augmented reality. Check out the video below to see how it works:

This is a major step for urban connectivity, commerce, and especially the environment. I’ve traveled through over 85% of the United States, and I can’t tell you how many places I came across where recycling was a foreign concept. I even stopped at cafeteria-style restaurants that sold bottled and canned beverages, only to be met with blank stares when I asked for the nearest recycling bin at the end of my meal. These machines could be a large move to educating people on the value of recycling through reward-based incentives and progressive-minded, interactive technology.

Attention Mayors of major US cities: Recycling just got gamified- let’s play “Save the Planet”.


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: http://www.metaio.com/specials/augmented-reality-on-tablets/

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!


A new Experience Every Day

December 22, 2010

In case you are not familiar with the European tradition of an “Advent´s calendar”, starting on December 1st, children big and small, open one door of their calendar each day until the 24th and get rewarded with little presents or sweets . Following this tradition and mixing it up with innovative technology the Swiss Agency Futurecom, has created such an application for their client “Jelmoli” utilizing software by metaio. Customers of the largest and most innovative premium department store in Switzerland can discover one 3D surprise each day, when viewing the shopping window through the display of their smartphone! Detailed information and a movie can be found: here.


ARducation

November 16, 2010

The main goal of the “ARducation” project by Kay de Roos is to examine the possibilities of Augmented Reality in an educational context. While some online video game design schools or computer science programs have devoted considerable time and energy to AR, since the term was coined in 1990 many have begun to say that AR is the future of education itself and warrants more attention. In this case the student group created two scenarios (prototypes) that could be part of a history lesson. In order to use the full potential of Augmented Reality and make the concept more useful, more interaction and features should be added. But even without “more features” or “more interaction” this work is a great student project. And as we have learned from a previous post about AR in education, the technology has great potential in this domain due to its fascinating and intuitive information design. Exploring goes nicely with learning…

Product used: metaio´s Unifeye Design.


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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