The day when anyone can create a stunning 3D Augmented Reality simulation is getting closer. Last month, General Electric's innovative AR media campaign to promote its 'Smart Grid' platform helped to push Augmented Reality out into the masses by giving users a chance to try it at home using a printable marker download and webcam.
Add sports media to the list of early technology adopter companies alongside the military and porn industries!
ESPN and Electronic Arts have joined forces around the ‘Virtual Playbook’ to shake up the world of broadcast media by launching a new era of immersive mass media experiences.
In recent years sports based games have pushed the evolution of 3D experiences, but now ESPN is bringing football analysis into the era of 3D Augmented Reality. This Fall, ESPN commentators will interact live with realistic 3D virtual NFL players. They will stand next to life sized scale 3D players as they demonstrate based offensive and defensive patterns.
Gamers are obviously thrilled and NFL viewers are likely to become bigger fans of sports commentators able to navigate a virtual landscape of players.
Now that we are witnessing the first mass media application of augmented reality, it becomes easier to build a futures road map looking at the convergence of drivers that support augmented mass media experiences.
We can see clear developmental lines of commercialization with 3D software (ray trace rendering, 3D authoring etc.), hardware (terahertz chips and video servers) and display technology (thin film, flexible OLEDs and high def projection systems) and interface standards (gesture, smart object and motion based interactions).
Thanks to ESPN, we have now jumped to major hurdles – viable business models around convergence of 3D software, gaming and virtual world companies with broadcast media. And the biggest barrier with the most uncertainty – People! Specifically mainstream TV viewers.
Entrepreneurs can now start imagining the unique applications. When might students use augmented reality to create reports – immersing themselves in history scenes or building cities? When might kids insert themselves inside a Dora the Explorer adventure? Or aspiring athletes play the world champions in an immersive experience that makes Wii tennis look like 8 bit pong?
When might technicians and engineers use augmented reality to work collaboratively long distance? Could Home Depot or our plumber walk us step by step through the bathroom project?!
The list of mainstream applications is exhaustive. And the convergence of technologies is within sight. There is no need to overstate and ‘hype’ augmented reality, or bow to naysayer skeptics of tech adoption. Augmented reality is much more appealing and functional than a pure virtual world experience. And it could give a boost to TV broadcasters desperate to stay relevant.
3, 5, 7 or 10 years is not too far off for mainstream applications at work and home! But how do we get there?
France-based Easy Web develops 3D video projection systems for 'monumental architecture', but could they be developing new cultural expectations for human-city interfaces where everything becomes a template?
In the video above you are seeing the making of an augmented reality print ad. If you print out the PDF file here, go the their website here and launch your webcam, a highly-detailed MINI Cabrio should appear on the page which you can manipulate and zoom by rotating the ad. You'll need to download 3D plugins for the program to work which is daunting enough, but persevere and you'll get a 3D car on your paper.
You may have read a past article we did on augmented reality pop-up books for kids where people were working towards creating a commercially viable product involving augmented reality. Although they said development would be years away, seems like MINI has gone ahead and shortened the deadline. There have even been cases where cellphones have been used to display augmented reality projections.
Using print ads and a webcam is just the first step, next year we'll be seeing goggles which will make the whole experience that much more exciting.
Been wanting to tinker with Augmented Reality? Now you can try it out with your iPhone. Go to Metaio and try out their Augmented Reality iPhone App for free (and unlike the last AR gadget we linked you to, these instructions are in English). You can determine his size, make him run around, even print it out on a holiday card so friends and family can see him. Enjoy!