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Blog: ARspiration

ARE 2011 - Adriano Farano on AR in Journalism

Chris Cameron May 31, 2011

When was the last time you picked up a newspaper? Maybe there was one laying around on the train during your morning commute, but this day and age, a physical print newspaper is a form of media being consumed less and less.

With the countless number of better ways to receive up-to-the-minute news and information, newspapers just don’t stand a chance. The problem for most news organizations is that newspaper subscriptions and advertising have made up a significant chunk of their revenue, and those two areas have been struggling with the rise of new media.

So it makes sense that those interested in preserving journalism are concerned with finding ways for it to connect with readers through new media. Enter Adriano Farano, who spoke at Augmented Reality Event earlier this month about the topic of augmented reality and journalism.

To hear how Adriano thinks these two industries can come together, check out the video of his talk embedded below!


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The Space Liberation Front Steals the Stage from Bruce Sterling

Chris Cameron May 30, 2011

We’re churning out videos from Augmented Reality Event 2011 like a machine, and today we have a rather special one for you. ARE opened again with a keynote from sci-fi author and futurist Bruce Sterling, but this year, things didn’t exactly go as planned (or did they?).

Before Bruce could begin his speech, he was interrupted by an organization calling themselves the Space Liberation Front. Their origins are, shall we say, mysterious. The group rushed the stage dressed in white hazmat suits and preceded to dramatically read their manifesto for the freeing of space.

Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?

It’s all quite entertaining to witness, so have a look in the video embedded below. Following their brief interruption, of course, is Bruce’s keynote to open the festivities at ARE, so enjoy that as well! We’ll be back with even more ARE 2011 videos as the week continues!

Photo by akihitok1973 on Flickr.


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Ben Cerveny Talks Ambient Information Displays at ARE 2011

Chris Cameron May 27, 2011

Can’t get enough of our video coverage from Augmented Reality Event 2011? Then you’re in luck because we’ve got another great video to share with you today.Ben Cerveny gave a rather intriguing talk at ARE about ambient information displays that you’re sure to enjoy. Catch it embedded below.

Ben is a veteran UI/UX designer, prototyper and strategist, working with the likes of Flickr and Revver. Ben is currently the founder of the Amsterdam-based research foundation VURB as well as president and founder of Bloom.

In his presentation, Ben discusses how environments can become social, and how ad hoc networks can be created around those environments. It’s certainly inspiring, so check it out below and let us know what you think!


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Regarding “Strong AR” and “Weak AR”

Gene Becker May 25, 2011

Layar’s AR Strategist Gene Becker penned this blog after attending Augmented Reality Event 2011 in Santa Clara, California, last week.

At the end of his otherwise lovely keynote at ARE2011, Microsoft’s Blaise Aguera y Arcas proposes a distinction between “strong AR” and “weak AR”. Aguera’s obviously a very talented technologist, but in my opinion he’s done the AR industry a disservice by framing his argument in a narrow, divisive way:

“I’ll leave you with just one or two more thoughts. One is that, consider, there’s been a lot of so called augmented reality on mobile devices over the…past couple of years, but most of it really sucks. And most of it is what I would call weak augmented reality, meaning it’s based on the compass and the GPS and some vague sense of how stuff out there in the world might relate to your device, based on those rather crude sensors. Strong AR is when you, when some little gremlin is actually looking through the viewfinder at what you’re seeing, and it’s saying ah yeah that’s, this is that, that’s that and that’s the other and everything is stable and visual, that’s strong AR. Of course the technical requirements are so much greater than just using the compass and the GPS, but the potential is so much greater as well.”

Aguera’s choice of words invokes the old cognitive / computer science argument about “strong AI” and “weak AI” which was first posed by John Searle in the early heyday of 1980’s artificial intelligence research [Searle 1980: Minds, Brains and Programs (pdf)]. However, Searle’s formulation was a philosophical statement intended to tease out the distinction between an artificially intelligent system simulating a mind, or actually having a mind. Searle’s interest had nothing to do with how impressive the algorithms were, or how much computational power was required to produce AI. Instead, he was focused on the question of whether a computational system could ever achieve consciousness and true understanding, and Searle believed the concept of strong AI was fundamentally misguided.

In contrast, Aguera’s framing is fueled by technical machismo. He uses strong and weak in the common schoolyard sense, and calls out “so-called augmented reality” that is “vague”, “crude”, and “sucks” in comparison to AR that is based on (gremlins, presumably shorthand for) sophisticated machine vision algorithms backed with terabytes of image data and banks of servers in the cloud. “Strong AR is on the way”, he says, with the unspoken promise that it will save the day from the weak AR we’ve had to endure until now.

OK, I get it. Smart technology people are competitive, they have egos, and they like to toss out some red meat now and then to keep the corporate execs salivating and the funding rolling in. Been there, done that, understand completely. And honestly, I love to see good technical work happen, as it obviously is happening in Blaise’s group (check out minute 17:20 in the video to hear the entire ARE crowd gasp at his demo).

But here’s where I think this kind of thinking goes off the rails. The most impressive technical solution does not equate to the best user experience; locative precision does not equal emotional resonance; smoothly blended desktop flythroughs are not the same as a compelling human experience. I don’t care if your system has centimeter-level camera pose estimation or a 20 meter uncertainty zone; if you’re doing AR from a technology-centered agenda instead of a human-centered motivation, you’re doing it wrong.

Bruce Sterling said it well at ARE2010: “You are the world’s first pure play experience designers.” We are creating experiences for people in the real world, in their real lives, in a time when reality itself is sprouting a new, digital dimension, and we really should try to get it right. That’s a huge opportunity and a humbling responsibility, and personally I’d love to see the creative energies of every person in our industry focused on enabling great human experiences, rather than posturing about who has stronger algorithms and more significant digits. And if you really want to have an argument, let’s make it about “human AR” vs. “machine AR”. I think Searle might like that.


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ARE 2011: Blaise Aguera y Arcas

Chris Cameron May 23, 2011

Augmented Reality Event 2011 was again provided with an inspiring keynote from Microsoft’s Blaise Aguera y Arcas, creator of Photosynth and architect of Bing Mobile and Bing Maps.

Last year, Blaise provided ARE attendees with a keynote similar to his well-known TED talk on Photosynth. Blaise was equally impressive this year in Santa Clara, providing a keynote on big data and augmented reality - an intersection we appreciate here at Layar.

In his presentation Blaise talks about how Photosynth is evolving and he ends with his latest project: Read Write World. A very impressive project about crunching all available big data to “index, unify, and connect of the world’s geo-linked media. Consisting of a cloud-based geo-indexing, matching and processing services.” All code is intended to be open source, serving an example of what big companies can aspire to.

Once again, we’ve got video for those who couldn’t make it to ARE this year, so check out Blaise’s great talk below!


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