Last week Vancouver hosted the SIGGRAPH 2014 conference, THE premier global conference in computer graphics and interactive techniques. At the event I hosted a Birds of a Feather session on Augmented Reality in association with the YVAR Vancouver Augmented Reality Meetup.

Interest in the event exceeded our expectations. While there were 13 RSVP’s through the meetup.com interface, we easily exceeded the 100-person seating capacity of the room, and by the time we were rolling, there wasn’t even standing room in the room. In all, 328 (!!) individuals added the session to their personal plan at the schedule using the conference tool.

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A working definition of Augmented Reality for the event was, “You know something about the world that you wouldn’t otherwise have known and that information is piped through one of your senses. Often, but not always, this is visual.” This is a pragmatically broad definition, a pragmatism and a breadth that was reflected in the speakers, all Augmented Reality practitioners today facing many problems related to the core challenges of AR, like:

  • Mixing our realities. Virtual and real scenes. Real objects in Virtual Reality. Virtual objects in Real Reality. As both are stretched, can we treat them as separate anymore?
  • Accessibility. How to enable others to deploy AR-enabled apps? How to distribute those apps to their users? How to update, manage, and re-distribute the content of those apps?
  • Advanced 3D content. How to orchestrate stories in 3D? How to manage the challenges with 3D formats, varying processing power, level of detail changes.
  • Mobile development. How to integrate AR functionality into mobile apps? How to effectively integrate and transition between modalities? How to continue to execute good mobile development with this new technology?
  • Location awareness. What does it really mean to be location aware for search context, driving directions, walking directions, or a more personal sense of location? When to use non-visual ways of sending information?

Six Vancouver companies with experience in Augmented Reality gave presentations:

  • David Clement from Wavesine Solutions gave a presentation about AR/VR as achieved using open-sided custom VR headsets, motion tracking, and real objects.
  • Aaron Hilton from Conquer Mobile, gave a presentation largely about emerging technologies that will shape the Augmented Reality space
  • Chris Hobbs from Two Tall Totems presented an Augmented Reality app which his company developed for Pixels.com (video). A nice, clean, well executed Augmented Reality use case. Based on a printed marker, see what art will look like on your wall, printed and framed, before ordering off their website.
  • Reece Griffin from AR Builder presented about his product that enables others to build, publish, and update augmented reality apps
  • Aleksey Nozdryn-Plotnicki from NGRAIN, the author of this blog article, presented NGRAIN’s view of the complexity of authoring 3D content for Augmented Reality experiences.
  • Anna Prein from RunGoApp, presented their iOS/Android app that does audio Augmented Reality, giving instructions, encouragement, points of interest, etc. while you run.

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