Startups cite tablets and democratisation respectively as AR looks for a wider audience.
Until now, mobile augmented reality has been all about smartphones, with the creation of AR content restricted to developers with specific skills. Announcements today from startups Metaio and Layar show how both companies are keen to move beyond this.
Metaio thinks that tablets will become increasingly important devices for AR, describing them as “the perfect enabler for augmented reality” as it published a video showcasing its Junaio AR technology running on slate devices.
Metaio’s bullishness is about more than just the iPad: the company thinks the new wave of tablets running Google’s Android 3.0 operating system – starting with the Motorola Xoom – will create new opportunities for innovative AR applications.
“The extreme light weight, the multiple sensors such as compass or GPS, the large screen and perfectly positioned twin cameras of the new tablets make them fascinating machines,” says Metaio in what’s a cross between a press release and a manifesto.
It also cites dual-core processors as a key factor enabling tablets to be used for AR applications including instructional guides; product information; e-commerce; entertainment and gaming.
“If you want to display for example rich media content triggered by printed material like newspapers or magazines, you need to recognize the object, process the image and render the content into the video stream tightly connected to the original image. By capturing the object on one core and by handling tracking (recognition and initialisation) on the other core, performance and user experience will be so much better.”
Metaio’s view is that AR is “more than a marketing gimmick or hype, it’s actually an interface revolution”. However, there are currently relatively few companies able to take part in this revolution, since creating AR content remains the preserve of developers willing and able to get to grips with the tools.
That’s something Metaio’s rival Layar is hoping to change with its own announcement today of an initiative called Layar Connect. It’s all tools to help more people create content and services around Layar’s AR platform, with the help of external companies who build these tools.