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Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Augmented Moblogging

Augmented Reality and Moblogging are going to converge, the question is when.  This might border on science fiction, but here goes...

Columbia University researchers have developed two augmented reality tours: one of nearby restaurants and one of the university campus. As you scan for a place to snack (top left), the system labels the eateries within view. Click on Tom's Restaurant with a wireless mouse, and a new window (top right) informs you that this was the facade used for the diner in "Seinfeld." In front of Low Library (bottom left), click on the central flag to learn about the 1968 student takeover of the building. Select the flag at left and up pops a 3-D model of Bloomingdale Asylum (bottom right), which once stood on that spot.

Photo courtesy of Columbia University

Augmented Reality overlays information within an environment to enhance a person or group's capabilities to act in an environment.  Data, text, images, sound & video.

I had an opportunity to demo an military AR system at a conference recently.  The Land Warrior project is perhaps the most advanced AR system and is in field deployment today.

The information was as simple as a top down view of an urban battlefield, with dots marking friendly and unfriendly combatants.  Seeing what's around the corner and where your friends are changes the landscape.

But the problem with augmented reality is the same as virtual reality: hardware and content development costs

VR systems are largely stationary systems.  Initial applications focused on teaching people how to use mechanical interfaces (flight simulators, tank simulators).  Systems were custom developed on proprietary hardware and software, bundled with the machine itself (planes, tanks).

But then a commercial revolution happened, Moore's Law was applied, and within less than five years almost all simulation was based on PC hardware.  Today in VR the same process of leveraging commercial R&D is beginning -- gaming technology is improving the price/performance of simulation software.  Taken together, military markets are recieving drastic reductions in system costs, but what remains is content.

Historically 70% of VR costs are from systems and 30% are from content.  Now that trend is reversing itself.  System cost reductions are freeing development funds for content.

Ever forget a face? Aug-mented reality will help you recover seamlessly when you bump into some-one and can't remember whether she's a college acquaintance or your accountant's ex-wife. Your AR system will automati-cally search a personalized face-recognition database, then provide text that tells you not only the name of the person you're looking at, but some key personal details as well.

Photo by: Andrew Brusso

NEXT GENERATION: This Xybernaut wearable computer suggests the future of augmented reality -- a time when daily life will be annotated by virtual Post-It Notes

Augmented Reality will likely follow a similar path.  It benefits from Moore's Law in processing, but also the commercial R&D efforts towards saving power and miniaturization (is there a Moore's Law for miniaturization?).  The largest cost barrier will remain quality head mounted displays, but there is a display revolution going on as well.

InfoTrends Research Group has found that Japan accounts for almost all (98 percent) of the wireless imaging market that is forecast to grow from 6.6 million in 2002 to over 160 million by 2007, representing a compound annual growth rate of 93 percent.  Outside Japan, camera phone costs are still prohibitive, and the market is growing in fits and starts.

Moblogging's current humble beginnings is based on the increasing adoption of wireless imaging.  And this cateogry of commercial hardware R&D will grow to include GPS and other functions.

But its also based upon the formation of groups.  Early Mobloggers are explicit about their identities and do not shy away from sharing their presence and experiences with the world.  When Moblogging, and indeed blogging, begin to offer authentication and permissioning it will appeal to a wider set of users.  People who want to communicate in groups with strong ties.  This is where Reed's Law of group formation takes hold.  A base of strong tie groupings of content will extend to other groups and to those with weaker ties on a post-by-post basis.  The result will be a large base of levergable content -- and the content gains context with GeoURLs. 

Of course, to realize the AR dreams in the images above, much needs to happen in the core software system for managing and displaying the content (recognition, recognition, recognition) and we have to wait for hardware costs to fall.  But as Adina pointed out, there are simpler versions of augmented reality being developed under the rubric of social software.  I don't need a $20k head mounted display to tell me where my friends are and what's around the corner.

11:58:02 AM    comment []

Carry is the Cause
VC Investment Falls Nationwide, But Rises In Silicon Valley... My guess, is that these VCs who have been just sitting on their cash for the entire year are suddenly realizing that they haven't made any investments all year, so it's time to churn out the token investment to prove they still do something to earn their management fees. Let's wait a few more quarters before we start claiming that the VC population has moved, en masse, back into investing. [Techdirt]
8:48:18 AM    comment []


Not Your Father's Encyclopedia. Anyone can contribute an article to the Wikipedia, an open-source encyclopedia that relies solely on volunteers for its content. All that's needed is a little initiative. By Kendra Mayfield. [Wired News]

Wiki power is emerging...

"If you compare the products side by side ... we're not there yet," Wales said. "But a good encyclopedia article is going to be essentially the same today and 15 years from now. We'll catch up. We're not chasing a moving target...I think that over the next few years, it's going to develop into a world-class encyclopedia that will rival the Britannica."

Great article, Sis.

8:01:34 AM    comment []

Friends of Friends.

 Ben Trott is implementing a way for Moveable Type bloggers to securely connect to other 'friends'.  It implements a FOAF (Friend of a Friend) scheme - which goes out and fetches a name, email and homepage URL and stocks it into a cookie. Then all sorts of new ways for blogs to communicate between each other automatically can be facilitated.  This is sort of like - 'lite-weight' digital identity and shows that we're starting to go beyond just plan 'linking' to each other.

Of course having true identity servers is the ideal, but let's just hope that this journey to identity is not over, but just beginning. 

Persistent digital ID's is a foundation building block needed for social networking and what I call 'the mesh'.  Ben is starting to implement FOAF as a way for Moveable Type end-users to figure out who's commenting, linking and is part of one's inner social network.  Once that 'inner group' has been ascertained, THEN it's time to do cool, new things with 'these people', their comments and other constants that are embedded in their blogs.

The most exciting thing is what comes out of all this.

Connecting people together (like Ryze and xxx) is one of the elements of infrastructure we need to build new kinds of on-line communities.  Knowing who your friends, family and colleagues 'are' - come sright after knowing who YOU are!

Hopefully the FOAF API Ben is implementing will evolve to support open standard that others can build on top of and continue the spread of 'the mesh.

(Thanks to Jonathan Peterson for the pointer)

[Marc's Voice]
7:43:26 AM    comment []

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