If we say Google Goggles, you know what we are talking about? For those answering no, here is the explaination: Goggles is a project very close to augmented reality, presented by Google in 2010 that lets you search through the use of images. At the moment it seems pretty sci-fi, but soon it could be one of the tools we commonly use on our smartphones.

Some days ago, in fact, rumors spread saying that Google is planning to add a new feature related to Goggles inside its Android camera. This new feature will let you take advantage of the tool to take pictures and receive straight away information on what is portrayed inside them.

Essentially, it will be possible to take pictures of famous or recognizable objects and use Google search engine to receive information about them: SlashGear says that you will only have to take a picture and then trace an outline around the object you want information on, getting rid of background noise and clutter; Android will recognize it and will give you all the data you requested.

If this is not enough, Goggles can read text in eight languages (italian, english, spanish, german, french, portguese, russian and turkish) and translate them. It works also as a barcodes reader and QR codes scanner, pretty good feature in the case you want to save someone’s contact on your phone directly scanning QR or business cards, and it can even solve Sudoku puzzles.

It seems that Goggles has been tested also with wearables: it’s actually easy to imagine it used in an augmented reality headset.

How many times did you think “ah, if only I had teleportation!”? Many, isn’t it true? And now, even if it isn’t exactly what you were asking for, in a certain manner the world of augmented reality and avant-garde technology are here to help: yes, because during last days we started to hear talking about “holoportation”.

Do you remember the holographic messages from Star Wars? Well, the result is similar to that: thanks to Microsoft HoloLens, in fact, it will be possible to chat with someone as if he was physically in the same room with us thanks to this kind of messages. If this isn’t enough, the messages can be seen again, exactly how we can read again a e-mail.

The demonstration of this new technology is showed in a video, in which we can see the Microsoft Research developer Shahram Izadi recorded during a live conversation at distance with a colleague and his 4 years old daughter: since Izadi is wearing a HoloLens headset, the two are right in front of his eyes, as they were in the same room.

The conversation is recorded and, as we said earlier, can be then played again, moving forward, changing in the while the size of the interlocutors.

How does this work? Both Izadi and his interlocutors are surrounded by a system of special cameras using 3D recording technology; then the data coming from the different cameras are fused together creating a perfect 3D hologram, that is paired with a HoloLens tracking system, which enables the ‘holoportation.’

‘Imagine being able to virtually teleport from one space to another in real time,’ Izadi says in the video. And, even knowing all this is not physically happening, to see these images is surprising anyway. This technology will be a great step ahead to bring back together families or friends who are apart: if we won’t be able to hold them, it will be nice to have them at least in the same room.

Do you remember Pokémon Go, the long-awaited augmented reality version of the videogame Pokémon? Among the fans it’s a race to figure out, or even just guess, some more clues: in fact, the collaboration between Nintendo and Niantic Labs seems to be one of the most secret ever happened.

After the announcement last September, basically there were no other words about the videogame: the majority of fans thought (and hoped) that this version will be released during the 20th anniversary of the game, but these are just hypothesis.

Now, finally, there’s something concrete to talk about, since a leaked video appeared on the web, probably recorded by an attendee to a speech by Niantic Labs’ CEO John Hanke at SXSW, that shows Pokémon Go’s gameplay. From what is visible, the Pokémon will be visualized on a map of the surroundings; tapping them they will be zoomed and put inside the real world scene we have in front. This vision, unluckily, doesn’t show the battle, but it will make possible to choose among different Poké Balls. In the leaked video we can see the capture and the escaping of a Ivysaur, and also a pop-up menu appearing on the screen, making it possible to choose, as we said, the right Poké Ball.

The videogame’s gameplay is pretty similar to the first and famous product by Niantic Labs, Ingress, in which the player walks in the surroundings that, thanks to augmented reality and a mobile device, are a battle field with portals for the factions to conquer.

The leaked video, anyway, shows how the videogame will look and it is pretty far from what expected from the video demo released some time ago, in which Pokémon Go seemed to be more complex and advanced. To swipe off all the doubts, we can just wait for the official release, at the moment yet without a date.

 

Microsoft HoloLens’ developer version will be delivered soon: the first lucky ones that paid $3000 will start to receive the new headset from March 30th.

While waiting for the shipping, Microsoft is showing to the future developers the different possible uses of the augmented reality headset; one of these surprised many: it’s called Actiongram and it’s an app for HoloLens that makes possible to film ourselves or other people while interacting in video with holograms.

The idea is nice, but don’t expect special effects as in the cinema though: Microsoft wanted just to offer to the developers who don’t have any CGI or animation skills the possibility to have some fun shooting short videos in which they can insert special holograms previously created by the producers of the app.

In order to provide great holographic content to help inspire creators, we built a holographic studio where many different actors, characters, objects, and creatures can be captured as holograms,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post previewing the app. “Actiongram is an app that allows people to place this rich holographic content into their real world environment, and record a mixed reality capture (MRC) video.

Together with the announcement, the company released also an explanatory video that shows some examples of possible use of the app, but also how easy it is to set a video: in pure Microsoft style, an holographic menu appears in front of the users’ eyes, overlapped to the view thank to HoloLens;  from here it will be possible to choose the hologram to insert in the scene.

Which subjects are available? There’s actually a lot of choice: from the dinosaur to the astronaut, we can’t wait to try them all!

This is Microsoft’s official video:

Snapchat and its secret AR project

Is it possible that Snapchat, the social media dedicated to ephemeral contents, is working on the project of a new pair of smart glasses based on augmented reality?

Listening to rumors, the answer could be yes. In fact, lately, there has been a slow but constant hiring of experts in the field from the 100 millions monthly users’ social media.

The news is reported from the site CNET through a report showing how, in time, Snapchat inserted in its staff names as: Mark Dixon, former member of Microsoft HoloLens and Xbox staff; Eitan Pilipski, previously working on Qualcomm’s Vuforia project for an augmented reality platform for mobile; Lauryn Morris, eyewear designer who worked for many brands, among which Innovega, company creator of iOptik, glasses based on mixed-reality.
Especially this last name suggests the project of a weareble device: CNET, about this, says that “perhaps the best evidence for smart glasses is that Snapchat has an eyewear designer on its team. Lauryn Morris created frames for Michael Kors, Innovega and Zac Posen”.
If these names aren’t enough, we can just go back to 2014, when the social media company acquired the startup Vengence Labs, producer of smart glasses that are able to record footage of what a wearer sees.

This is not the first time that the social app approaches to augmented reality: last year it surprised everyone adding “Lenses”, a range of augmented filters that can be added to selfies. Imagine if these effects could be applied directly in front of your eyes thanks to a pair of smart glasses: this is probably Snapchat’s goal.

We can also see a more deep goal in this operation, as an alternative realities expert highlights to CNET: “If they are actually investing in new tech, that could be great. They probably know that most apps in their situation have a limited lifespan and monetisation potential”.

Do you remember the app by L’Oreal that joins augmented reality and beauty? Launched in 2014, “Makeup Genius” has been one of the first mobile apps connecting the beauty world with new technologies. Now, since of the great success, L’Oreal decided to enhance the product.

Yes, because now the collaboration between the beauty world colossus and Image Metrics, company developer of the technology on which Makeup Genius is based, had a revamp thanks to the exclusive partnership agreement that will make L’Oreal the only possible user of the system. This will make possible to add some new features to the app based on L’Oreal customers’ specific needs.

But let’s start from the beginning: the Makeup Genius app, launched in 2014 as we already wrote, is nothing else than the classic pocket mirror with the extra oomph of augmented reality; L’Oreal’s customers, in fact, will be able to try on any makeup on their faces just using their smartphone’s frontal camera. Also, after the test, it will be possible to take a picture of the results and share it on social media before purchasing.

The special touch comes from Image Metrics’ technology: the company, in fact, is specialized in facial analysis and detection research, as well as in providing advanced tracking technology; this makes the effect of the augmented makeup incredibly realistic: the promise of Image Metrics’ CEO to L’Oreal’s users is no less than giving them an “increasingly immersive and stunningly real” experience.

L’Oreal, on its side, seems very aware of the importance of this new technology to help their clients: “Makeup Genius brings an obvious added value, a true utility to women giving them access to our large portfolio of products, trying them on, sharing them on their social networks and easily buying them. Entering this new era with Image Metrics will allow us to explore new possibilities and connect more than ever with consumers and offer them an easy, personalized and truly useful beauty e-routine.” says Cyril Chapuy L’Oreal Paris Global President.

Augmented reality is the next big thing: all the important hi-tech companies are already running around planning projects related to this new technology. Intel is the next one, it seems: last week Wall Street Journal published a news, related to an information leak, that gives for granted that the company is working on a new headset.

It seems in fact that, during last times, Intel purchased at least five companies working in the augmented reality field and invested in three other. They spent no less than half a billion dollars in this operation.

Following the rumours, it looks like Intel wants to enter the world of augmented reality headsets creating its own, taking also advantage of their famous 3D RealSense technology, presented at CES in Las Vegas only last January. This possibility would make the project even more interesting, surpassing as well some competitors as HoloLens and HTC Vive: RealSense, in fact, is a system of sensors that permit to scan objects and spaces in three dimensions, transmitting to the device a map of the surrounding complete of depth. This would be an exclusive feature of the headset by Intel and it would help creating a highly enhanced augmented reality vision: the surroundings’ mapping would help the user moving more easily inside the space around him, without the worry of hitting objects and furnitures.

However, don’t expect an headset signed by Intel: the company seems to be interested in creating the project but not in producing it; other companies will do this, of course using RealSense technology. We can also imagine that the new headset will be more robust than a pair of smart glasses: therefore closer to HoloLens than to Google Glass.

Project Tango is again on everyone’s mouth: this time, the “mixed reality” project by Google is the main character in the operation by the Italian-American company Fiat Chrysler.

The connection between augmented reality and automotive is not a news: we already saw examples of different uses in this field, from the factory to the driving, from BMW, MINI and Volkswagen to say just only few names. Now it’s the turn of Fiat Chrysler, automotive group producer of the brands FIAT, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lancia, Fiat Professional, Abarth, Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram Trucks, Mopar and SRT, to launch its project: thanks to a collaboration with Accenture Interactive, the colossus developed an application based on Project Tango that will let the buyers try the car before the purchase, exactly as they would try clothing in a changing room.

One of Tango’s peculiarities, in fact, is the ability of depth and distance sensing in the ambients in which it then inserts augmented reality; there’s more: this ability is not based on GPS, but on a new, exclusive technology that works also indoor.

The app by FCA, through a mobile device, will let the buyer see a full-size car in front of his eyes, so he can “try” it; it will make possible, as well, to see it in different colors and also to check whether or not they will fit in a parking space or the garage.

“Augmented reality is set to transform the way car-buyers choose and configure vehicles through the provision of immersive technology because it provides an enjoyable, delightful experience for customers,” said Luca Mentuccia, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s Automotive practice.

FCA’s app has been presented at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and for now it is still a prototype; the launch of the final version is awaited before the end of the year.

META 2 AR headset unveiled at TED 2016

Maybe not everyone knows that TED is actually an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design. Said this, how being surprised about the fact that this year the official conference has been conquered by augmented reality? Just few days ago we wrote about Alex Kipman’s speech presenting Microsoft HoloLens, but it wasn’t the only headset guest of the event.

February 17th, in fact, another appreciated guest was on TED’s stage talking about augmented reality: we talk about the headset META which, after collecting early last year $23 million, remained silent for a long period. After a year of work, they decided to present their new version of the product in an illustrious frame as TED.

The headset, called META 2 AR, was worth the wait: it is a new generation augmented reality device and it is a vastly improved version.

The device, presented on the stage by the company CEO Meron Gribetz, in the design reminds HoloLens and many other similar devices. Gribetz showed some demos for the META, among which there was one showing an hologram of a person that, thanks to the device, appeared in front of his eyes and was even able to hand him an augmented reality model of a brain to demonstrate the utility of this device, for example, in the surgery field. “If we can put a digital layer into the real world imagine what that could mean for storytellers and brain surgeons” said Gribetz.

During his speech he highlighted also the importance of headsets and wearables for our future, in which will not be necessary anymore the use of bulky screens: “Today’s computers are so amazing that we fail to notice how terrible they really are,” said the CEO. “The future of computers is not locked inside screens. It is right here, inside of us… You are the OS, you live between windows.”

HoloLens conquers TED: Alex Kipman’s speech

Would you like to see a member of ISS in front of your eyes? Or maybe you’d prefer to walk in the middle of a landscape completely different from the one you are used to.

Sci-fi? Not really: all this is pretty near being made possible thanks to Microsoft HoloLens; actually, to be fair, for the lucky ones that got the Developer version of the headset this is already reality. We, mere mortals, can just watch the presentations of this Microsoft’s product all around the world and be amazed.

Last speech was the last week’s one at TED Conference 2016 where Alex Kipman, the creator of Kinect, decided to make an incredible entrance: wearing a HoloLens headset and projecting on a screen what he was seeing through his own eyes, showed to the people the potentiality of augmented reality and, consequently, of Microsoft’s new product.

Kipman, among other things, brought the viewers with him inside an enchanted landscape, then made it rain and finally made appear the hologram of a NASA scientist to have a chat. Furthermore, he called his family live from a virtual screen, and this made us all think about the future of TV and displays. All this, of course, happened virtually inside the headset and not in reality.

The emotion wasn’t just only in the visual factor, but also in the speech: Kipman commented his demonstration with words that made all of us think. Augmented reality is just at its start, and only a little part of its application is known and studied: “We are like cave people in computer terms; we barely discovered charcoal and started drawing the first stick figures in our cave.”

His advice, as well as an anticipation of the future, is to free ourselves from the bidimensional space to embrace the digital space, in which we have the “superpower” of displace space and time.

We wait for the HoloLens’ consumer version: even if there isn’t an official date yet, we are sure that it’ becoming closer, speech after speech.