Aurasma: Augmented Reality on your iPad, iPhone or Android

Article first published as Aurasma: Augmented Reality on Your iPad, iPhone or Android on Technorati.

At this week’s New York Tech Meetup event, (after surprise opening comments by Mayor Bloomberg), I got to see demos from several interesting new companies that exemplify the use of technology to change how we work, live and play—always something very exciting to see. One of demonstrations that jumped out was one of Aurasma, by Autonomy. Autonomy calls Aurasma “the world’s first visual browser.” As most browsers are already visual, I am not sure what this means. However, what jumped out at me was that Aurasma is a great expression of the idea that tablets (and now even some smartphones) not just keyboard-less computers, but instead a mass-market platform for augmented reality. It combines the portable application processing power, camera, touch screen and Internet connection of an Apple or Android smart device with backend image recognition and multimedia content management software to let you literally bring images you see “to life.” Here’s how it works:

  1. Point the camera at an image (billboard, magazine advert, box cover, etc.)
  2. Aurasma detects the image and replaces it with interactive web pages and multimedia adding information and enabling online transactions regarding what you are viewing
  3. This interaction is “stateful” – once you start the process you can walk away from the picture, product or billboard and continue to explore the interactive information

The video below shows how Aurasma works in action:

This type of technology opens the door to many interesting applications:

  • Turning a static billboard or print advertisement into a commercial or move trailer
  • Viewing real-time product information and reviews on a product displayed in a store
  • Immediately purchasing (online) something you see anywhere: in an advert, store window—or even a friend’s house
  • Reviewing a bio and statistics for an athlete or actor you are watching on TV
  • Overlaying a landmark or museum display with maps and historical information

What is nice about this approach is that you don’t need to put QR Codes, Snap Tags, or MS Tags everywhere (you only need to “point and shoot” at an image you see). What adds complexity is the replacing the ease-of-search that these 2D barcodes bring with less structured image recognition software (and many uploaded images). Whether this approach is “The One” remains to be seen. Regardless, it is something to take a look at (and try-out) if you are interesting taking advantage of the growth of tablets and smartphones to create rich, interactive experiences for your customers and partners—wherever they are.

Note: I have no relationship with Autonomy. I just have a strong belief that mobile, portable and capacitive touch technology will fundamentally change how we use computers in the next decade.

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