The explosion of interest in geo-social only points to a larger trend in augmented reality demonstrated by other innovations in the off-Broadway workspace — merging actual and virtual environments in order to make interactions with technology more tactile.
Nien Lam and Scott Wayne Indiana’s next-gen AugTopia superhero toys contain cubes in their tummies that can be adjusted to simulate different QR codes, generating new on-screen super powers with each combo when held up to a webcam.dailymarauder.com, Full Article, May 2010
Also getting real, augmented-style: GI Joe. Augtopia is an action figure set that allows users to engage with a virtual environment, displayed on their computer screens. Talk about bringing a new dimension to playing in the sandbox). And it doesn’t involve a movie tie-in or Burger King.
Augtopia was developed at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, breeding grounds to other awesome projects such as Pac Manhattan. Yes, that is correct: Pac Manhattan used to let you run the streets of New York as the P-man himself or as one of those pesky ghosts. Unfortunately, not all good futuristic interactive experiments last. Let’s hope that Augtopia is one of those good things that endures.motherboard.tv, Full Article, April 2010
Each original, limited-edition AugTopia figure is specially designed using emerging augmented reality technologies that enhance play with computer-generated images and scenes. Patterned markers located on the chest of each figure can be detected and tracked by any webcam-enabled computer to track the figure in three-dimensional space, blending computer-generated imagery with the real-world environment. These patterned markers are also interchangeable. Markers can be used in multiple AugTopia figures and traded among players, allowing for a wide variety of possible interactions using the same set of figures.
In conjunction with the collectible AugTopia action figures, the online AugTopia universe will serve as a social networking platform, enabling the upload of user-generated images and videos that bridge the real and virtual worlds.
The core group of four prototype AugTopia action figures and the AugTopia website (AugTopia.com) will be introduced at the ITP Spring Show on Sunday, May 9 from 2:00 – 6:00 p.m. and Monday, May 10 from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (721 Broadway between Washington and Waverly Place). Visitors will be invited to handle the prototype figures, and Scott and I will be on hand to demonstrate the augmented reality capabilities.
Nien Lam is a programmer and designer based in New York City. He has over a decade of software development experience and is a graduate of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. His areas of focus are computer vision, mobile applications, games and wearable technologies. His work has been featured in the NY Daily News, NPR, The Huffington Post and CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
Warning Signs is a visualization of the pollution that exists invisibly all around us. When the wearable senses carbon monoxide, the piece subtly changes color and pattern to indicate higher levels of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere to the wearer and those around him or her. This piece was designed and created by Nien Lam and Sue Ngo.