Augmented Reality and You

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Yet another wave of technology is building momentum and will soon be upon us. This time it isn’t just technology looking for a problem to solve. Augmented Reality is a way of mixing digital information and the real world in a highly interactive manner and, though in its infancy, it is already proving to be useful.

So what exactly is Augmented Reality, what are the problems it solves and what does it mean for the publishing industry? How will existing content be adapted or new content created to allow users to interact with digital information in new and compelling ways?

In this session, we will give many examples of applications for AR. We will introduce the Augmented Reality ecosystem, with a special emphasis on the mobile variations. We will examine what is available today for users and for publishers, identifying the gaps into which an industry will need to expand and, finally, we will put forth to Tools of Change attendees the reasons they should care and what they should begin to do about AR.

More details:
The bottom line is that, as a result of some key new hardware and software elements available to consumers today, there is a new paradigm emerging for interacting with digital information.

Begin with basic overview:
People are able to explore digital information which is offered to them in the context of their real world environment. First, there are sensors (cameras, GPS, accelerometers, compasses) which detect people, places and things in the user’s environment. Then, information is presented in response to these sensors. The user turns, or focuses in on a particular object and yet more content is available. The digital information appears and is available as an overlay on the live video, almost as “part” of the real world. The overlay and integration with physical world through the video camera attached to a desktop or the camera phone produces a far richer experience than when the same data was “just text” and graphics in a Web browser.

What does it take to deliver AR to a user? The simplest answer is “it depends.” I will provide some specifications for a basic AR experience and then give concrete examples, such as applications on the Android and iPhone handsets. I will show in a diagram how content is retrieved for AR use.

In the second part of this talk, I will introduce the ecosystem of Mobile AR. The ecosystem has four categories of companies:

  1. Those businesses which enable the users to have new experiences: hardware/device providers, companies who provide software clients (“AR Browsers”), providers of “clouds” of processors which identify and track the user’s environment.
  2. Business systems providers: tracking usage, advertising insertion and billing customers for the content they want to purchase
  3. Providers of tools and platforms to publishers (of all types)
  4. Providers of content: I believe that there are five sources of content for AR:
  5. Original content developed by professional publishers (games, visual, text publishers of all kinds)
  6. Editors and aggregators of third party content (portals, location providers/map publishers)
  7. The smartphone users themselves who will generate content (UGC, Wikipedia, open source, adhoc/social media)
  8. Autonomous/Automatically-generated content (Internet of Things)
  9. Governments and NGOs which offer public services

I will show some concrete examples of what is available in AR today (in February 2010):

  1. Location-based AR content publishers (travel guides, tools for exploration of the real world: what’s that mountain, what’s that flower, etc)
  2. Publishers of “magic books” using AR with a webcam or camera phone and a printed paper book.
  3. Providers of systems which help users find and purchase CDs, Books and DVDs using natural feature recognition
  4. AR game publishers

In the third and final section of this presentation, I will try to capture all that remains to be developed and how bridging between content publishers and this AR ecosystem will produce new opportunities and revenues streams.
In my opinion, biggest risk to the expansion of this industry is the lack of good (high) quality content which is “AR ready” when users tire of the existing libraries and sponsored content. This is the golden opportunity for publishers to make their digital content interactive in this new user interface. They cannot and should not go alone. I will propose new partnerships which content publishers should be preparing themselves to build, beyond geo-location based. For example:

  1. Digital content combined with physical pages in books or other printed media
  2. Content which is accessible only with heads up displays
  3. Content which is generated (“exposed” to the user) as a result of Internet of things technologies automatically “publishing” their living history

I will also explore critical missing components such as:

  1. Security for content (is DRM the solution?)
  2. Transaction systems for AR content (how is this different from any digital content sale?)
  3. Local vs. Cloud (where is content best stored?)

I will also discuss, though none are proven, business models for AR content in the future:

  1. User pays: one time to see/use, recurring user subscriptions, AR content stores
  2. Corporate pays: Advertising using AR as a way of subsidizing free content to users

Christine Perey

PEREY Research & Consulting

Christine Perey has over 18 years experience working in emerging multimedia communications markets. In the early days, she was the publisher and editor of The QuickTime Forum (1991-1993) and the founder of The QuickTime Movie Festival. More recently, she has chaired workshops and spoken at industry events on the Future of Social Networks and Mobile Augmented Reality. Christine serves as an expert to the W3C Social Web Working Group. She is also the chair of the ISMAR Mobile Committee. She is co-founder of Mobile Monday Switzerland.

Over the past three years, Christine has studied and prepared analyses of the state of Mobile Augmented Reality for clients. She has also authored the Mobile Social Networking reports published by Informa Telecoms & Media. Her first comprehensive report on Mobile Augmented Reality is in preparation, due for release before the end of 2009.

Perey performs research and provides guidance to executives, entrepreneurs and investors globally. For more information, visit PEREY Research & Consulting (

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Picture of Nathan Hamilton
Nathan Hamilton
02/24/2010 7:13am EST

Extremely interesting session with lots of ideas about future opportunities for publishers… thank you, Christine.

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