Let me try to give a shot on the AR...
Lecture - What is Augmented Reality and Why it emerged?
Augmented Reality is quite misunderstood concept IMHO. I have been involved with design and implementation of quite many different kind of VR and AR systems over the years. And I always felt uncomfortable with the technology and what emphasis people put on the tech instead of for what purpose this tech is used.
Interesting, I look forward to finding some time to watch this.
I've been involved with a number of AR projects for clients and frankly I fail to see the appeal or relevance, certainly with the current technology, but also in general. There are maybe a handful of AR or AR like projects that I've seen which actually provide some tangible benefit.
The problem I have is that so far in nearly all cases, the overall result of using AR could have been accomplished without using AR at all, the only thing that has been gained is a degree of 'coolness'. For example many AR applications or games involve overlaying 3d models into the world, or usually on top of a specific marker. This model then animates or you can move around the marker to view it from different directions etc. None of which ever needed AR to function, the same results could just as easily be achieved by displaying a model on screen and using gyroscope or accelerometer or even just traditional input methods. So I find myself asking, why bother? What is the point other than shouting hey look at how cool we are using this new technology. Which ultimately makes me feel rather sad.
Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a coolness factor to all this and it can certainly enthral and inspire people, but ultimately it just seems completely superfluous. However I wouldn't claim that AR as a technology is completely pointless, just at present the vast majority of uses of it seem to be. I'm desperately hoping this will change over time and that clients will understand the medium better to enable more interesting applications to be created.
Here is a great example of the most pointless use of ARI've seen to date. It was for some kiosk piece for Shell (a global group of energy and petrochemicals companies), where they stick an AR marker onto a turntable, so that users can rotate it whilst watching themselves on a screen and view a 3d model of a 'Gas to Liquid Plant'. Its utterly pointless in my mind because not only is the marker card superfluous (same result could easily be accomplished with a turntable and 3d accelerometer), but the final display of placing a model in front of a video of the person standing behind it is also superfluous. Sure it has a slight element of coolness to it, but the AR enhanced interactivity and the AR of combining virtual with real world leads to no tangible benefits or results.
Of course i'm making some generalisations here and part of it is definitely out of frustrating with working for clients that end up imposes artificially silly restrictions on what AR is being used (which I wouldn't be at all surprised is why the Shell AR project above turned out like it did). For example one project i'm working on has a collection of iPads to view the markers, but they are tethered, completely removing the ability to move around the markers with them!
I think there are some genuinely good uses of AR. I like the fact that it can be utilised to provide a 'understandable' means of controlling movement through a space. For example using a mobile device to view a virtual environment, where the relative position of the mobile to the AR marker controls the viewable position of the environment, allowing users to navigate through or around a space without having to use gamepads, mouse/keyboard etc. Its the simple aspect that the user is essentially holding a 'camera' into a virtual world that makes this interaction natural and understandable. I think these are the sort of elements where AR can shine.
Thats the downside of VR & AR at large. They allow you to do everything. Yes, I mean it, everything you can imagine. But the technology will not make up the lack of meaningful content.
Pretty much sums up a large amount of the AR work I've seen and been involved with. To a degree the act of using AR can give some extra depth to content, but it can't replace the need for good content and I'd go further and say it requires meaningful content that benefits from being displayed within an AR system.
We are only starting to get slight understanding what AR actually is, no matter how many experts you see, with perfect confidence, telling you about head mounted displays and floating 3D objects etc. I make a bold claim that these people simply dont know in full widht what they are dealing with ;)
Very true. I feel that everyone sort of has an instinctive knowledge or understanding of what AR is, but when you actually get down to it and start looking for more meaningful ways to utilise the technology and go beyond just adding some cool factor, this knowledge breaks down dramatically. I've seen it my own client projects where quite often I realise they are simply trying to mould a touchscreen delivery of content into AR and it just doesn't work.
As such i've started to jot down what I feel are the benefits of AR, what use cases make the most sense of the technology, where does it fail, what other interactions should it be mixed with or not, how do people interact or expect to interact with AR, AR Markers, or the display (e.g. handheld devices) etc. All in order to heopfully help guide potential future clients into developing a project that has better value than previously.
I'd love to discuss this further and to have had time to properly collated my thoughts in order to write and explain them better than I have above, but as ever i'm in a bit of crunch mode for coincidently an AR project ;) So I just wanted to put done some initial thoughts and viewpoint on the matter. Hopefully i'll be able to return to it in a week or so and after i've had time to watch the video posted.
Oh i'm also interested in the whole definition of AR as it could be as broad or as narrow as you want. As such I wonder if the term AR is a little meaningless now since at its most basic it could include anything and everything where by information is overlaid on top of a real or even virtual video stream. That's not really AR to me, its a subset, basically a HUD. However defining and naming these things can cause huge arguments, so i'm unsure how beneficial it is to bother ;)