Category Archives: Augmented Reality

CFP: Playful Interactions and Serious Games

Current call in the Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments for a thematic issue on Playful Interactions and Serious Games.

Deadline for manuscript submission is April 15th, with camera ready copy required early next year.

The call is looking for contributions on works that:

- Present innovative and state-of-the-art applications that use playful concepts in ambient intelligence settings,
- Describe game-based solutions to behavior change and pervasive healthcare problems,
- Share experiences, insights, best-practices andlessons-learned,
- Report the results of technical and social evaluations with regards to playful interaction and serious game design,
- Report results of longitudinal studies,
- Discuss and highlight the key challenges and future developments within the domain.

More details and full call here.

Meanwhile, another recent discovery is the recently launched journal - The International Journal of Play. This is quite a different context and subject to serious games, but I guess one that serious games researchers should be aware of. Some of the papers published in the first three issues do relate to digital games, though most don’t. Instead, you might find studies of play behaviours of children in different social groups, or similar.

Where next for virtual worlds?

On Monday I had the pleasure of presenting at the Eduserv ‘where next for virtual worlds’ workshop. Being asked to talk about the future gave me a nice opportunity to widely name-check a whole bunch of stuff and try and imagine how it might all tie into virtual worlds and learning environments a few years down the line. Since then it’s been full on marking and grading, just enough time to post this…

All of the presentations from the day are online at the Eduserv website. Most of these are in the form of embedded SlideShare presentations – though there is also a (slightly noisy) video of Ralph Schroeder’s presentation there. Hopefully other videos will follow. A wee note tho – if you are looking at John Kirriemuir’s presentation or my own, you’ll find a lot of extra supporting text and notes is only visible when viewing via the SlideShare website itself.

This is a bit of a problem with SlideShare embeds – it isn’t at all obvious when there is a lot of hidden extra content that you can only get via the SlideShare site itself.

(It also took me three attempts to get my slides to load up correctly without blank slides. And I’m not too sure why…)

As to the talks themselves… I enjoyed Ralph’s presentation – some good examples of the differences between high-end video conferencing, immersive virtual reality and virtual worlds and their strengths and weaknesses. His argument that there are two end states got a bit of a picking over on twitter afterwards.

Over on her blog, JISC’s Heather Williamson provides a summary of the day.

Looking ahead to 2010 and 2020

I’m a bit late with my ‘predictions for the new year/decade’ post… but on Tuesday night I took part in a Virtual Worlds in Education Roundtable panel discussion (a ‘first of the month’ panel is a regular departure from the normal roundtable format, before you ask!) on predicting the possible and preferable future of virtual worlds in education. As the meeting took place shortly after Second Life’s Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon posted his own predictions for the coming year and decade, his comments naturally became a point of reference for much of the discussion.

VWER 1/5/10Image: VWER Panel, taken by Olivia Hotshot

The panel featured Chris Collins/Fleep Tuque, Anthony Fontana, AJ Kelton/AJ Brooks (Chair), myself, Ken Hudson/Kenny Hubble and Jon Richter. Sarah Robbins was sadly unable to make it :-(

We all seemed to have high hopes for the potential of Augmented Reality and mobile technology to enhance and extend the capabilities of virtual worlds – though I felt there to be a lot of uncertainty about how exactly the very different worlds of mobile AR and desk-bound virtual worlds will best be meaningfully and usefully merged. Charles Stross’ “Halting State” presents one picture, but still a little way to go to get there.

From M Linden’s blog post a few things stood out:

  • Chris and myself were both excited by the prospects of an improved API for communications between SL and the web. Currently a large degree of hackery is required to connect web 2.0 applications to SL – the app might provide a simple API, but to connect that to SL almost always requires creating an intermediary service running on a server to act as a go-between.
  • M’s predictions for 2020 were a mixed bag. Some outlined systems that are perfectly feasible already, or have already been demonstrated (The VUE group at Edinburgh have demonstrated video/virtual conferencing already, along the lines M suggests might happen in 2020: ‘Walls in your office become portals to the metaverse’)
  • “Second Life is galactic.” Some discussion here, that is Linden Lab want this outcome then they will have to work hard to ensure that SL makes itself an essential hub world for the growing number of other virtual worlds out there. Second Life is currently a de-facto standard – with the largely compatible OpenSim being one of the main competitors. Can Linden Lab pull off this feat?
  • “Second Life becomes a standard in business, education and government.” Well, it already is largely a standard for virtual worlds – simply because it is the dominant virtual world. Again, the issue for 2020 is whether SL will stay that way…
  • “SLHD blurs the distinction between real and virtual.” This is possibly the only area where M actually makes some far-sighted predictions. And what he is looking to is virtual world technology that provides the physical sensations of the places, objects and avatars one interacts with. This IMHO is something that will remain in the research lab, demonstration systems and theme park – I don’t see this as being a regularly used technology to access virtual worlds by 2020. If nothing else, it goes against current trends towards more mobile uses of technology, and increasing access via mobile and low powered devices.
  • M also suggests that improvements to content management and protection are in the pipeline – this comes a little late for many inworld vendors whose hard work has been cracked and made freely available due to flaws in SL’s security and copy protection mechanisms. (I am talking here about scripted objects, where the scripts themselves should be secure – an inherent feature of digital technology such as SL is that it simply is not possible to prevent theft of textures and 3D data for models – as this data is required by the client to render content. Scripts are supposed to be secure – but have not been.)

In discussion I made one prediction for next year that I’d like to withdraw – I said that at the first VWER meeting of 2011 we’d almost certainly meet in SL, not some other virtual world. It’s still most likely place to hold the meeting – but an OpenSim grid now how to be a very strong second place contender.

It was a long and free flowing chat – apologies if I’ve missed out your personal highlights!

The Obligitary Wave Post – with added AR

I’ve been spending a little time with Google Wave over the last week or so – nothing much, just very light puttering about. I think there are issues about persistance, vulnerability of public waves to vandalism (much more fragile than Wiki), and a general messiness as folk try and figure out how to actually use Wave productively. Basically I haven’t got very far with it.

Meanwhile, other folks are already thinking about how to use Google Wave as the underlying protocol and communications architecture for… stuff. Prime example: AR Wave – building a distributed Augmented Reality system ontop of Wave. (In following this, I also discovered that it is possible to embed a view of a Wave in a web-page – as here.)

If you have Google Wave access, you can hopefully join the wave here (hope the link works!)

Yet another AR game – Invizimals

Yet another Augmented Reality game makes it to commercial handhelds – this time the Sony PSP (with Go!Cam). Invizimals is a Pokemon pet training game that allows users to capture pets, then trade them or pit them in combat against friends’ pets – the twist being that you have to first find them in their hiding places somewhere around your house, and the AR interface places the Invizimals in the environment. Looks good – but from viewing the video I think I’m somewhat disappointed that the use of real world environment seems very limited – but I think more interesting and clever exploitation of the environment might be a bit beyond the current generation hand held hardware.

It would be great to be proven wrong though…

Scottish Learning Festival '09

First post from this year’s Scottish Learning Festival. I made it to two talks so far – Derek Robertson’s presentation of Canvas – the OpenSim based 3D online art gallery for Scottish schools, and Ollie Bray’s more general one on game based learning. More on that later.

From the expo floor there is the usual mix of computer, smart board, educational play, books, software, etc etc vendors. What caught my eye the most was the connectED stand. For a few years now, connectED have been providing Sony PSP hardware, software and training specifically for the education sector – but it was not that that caught my attention.

They are currently working on a system called Second Sight – this is an augmented reality authoring toolkit for teachers. This was demoed on PSP, but education director Andy Goff assures me that a Nokia version is very well advanced with iPhone also in the works.

connectED's Second Sight

In the PSP screen you can see the AR dinosaur overlaid ontop of the camera view

connectED are apparently already working with English Heritage on using this on some EH sites, and have a number of collaborations active for rolling this out. Final product ready in about six months, but already the authoring environment seems very straightforward – allowing markers to be inserted into books, into displays or into the environment to add AR audio, video and 3D content.

Augmented Reality at home

Back from vacation… work piled up and overflowing. Just time for a quick post. My last post was a short round up of some handheld Augmented Reality apps, this time a wee mention of a forthcoming Augmented Reality game…

Sony’s EyePet (no, it’s not an affirmative statement from the north of England) is a virtual pet game for the PS3 due out in October this year. This extends the previous EyeToy offerings in allowing a much richer set of augmented reality interactions with your virtual pet. I saw this in action last week when I was along at the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival, and it was easily the most impressive thing on show (having said that, there were no live demo’s of anything Natal related!).

You can see the official demo below, and from what I saw at EIEF and from other comments and reports its a pretty accurate picture of EyePet in play – what you see here is what you get in the game:

For what it’s worth, I also grabbed a little video of my own – you can see the action on the big screen at the back, while some kids play around with the pet in the foreground. My own video is here on Flickr. This game is almost sure to be a hit – and I expect a lot more interest in console AR on the back of this. Actually, I suspect that Sony London already have some kind of follow-up in the works…

Handheld AR Roundup

I was blown away recently when I saw the handheld Augmented Reality Zobmie game ARhrrrr! developed at the Augmented Environments Lab at Georgia Tech:

ARhrrrr is an augmented reality shooter for mobile camera-phones. The phone provides a window into a 3d town overrun with zombies. Point the camera at our special game map to mix virtual and real world content.

With videos of the game in play, it is quite something to see:

Then a few weeks ago I got to see Wikitude running on an Android phone. This very neat app overlays local points of interest (and distance) on the camera view as you hold the phone up and point it around you. Practical and useful Augmented Reality, running on a phone now, not some distant point in the future.

Yesterday, via OLDaily, I learned on Tom Hoffman’s blog about an AR app for the iPhone that does something similar for the New York subway system – so you’ll always be able to find the nearest stations, and know what lines they server.

Then today I found that folks with a Nokia N95 (or N96, N82, N73, …) can also have fun with AR – as my current phone is an N95 thats good news to me. Sergey Ten at Cellagames has created a few free to download games including a Desktop Defence game.

As soon as I get my phone back (long story) I’ll be giving this a try.

And I have to also include a link to the Handheld Augmented Reality lab in Graz.

The learninggames angle? This technology has a lot, an awful lot, of potential uses in a huge range of educational projects, games and activities. I’ll leave exactly what to your imagination.