It’s Not Real Reality…

 …it’s augmented reality.

I got to finally dip my toes into creating one of those awesome looking augmented reality applications in flash. Those things where you have to print out a PDF and hold it in front of your webcam to see a virtual object attached to your piece of paper on the computer screen. Well it was somewhat easier than I thought it would be to make since all the difficult custom programming for symbol recognition over the webcam was already created and is freely available. I have no idea how they did the flash programming for it and I certainly applaud them for their efforts and for making it free to use under the GPL license.

The harder part might have been working with Papervision 3D to create the virtual object and have it move, but I have worked with Papervision 3D before when creating the DDA Power Pyramid and Sensis Condoms so I knew how to do that already. It was like taking pre-made code A and combining that with existing knowledge B and creating a new piece C. It looks as high tech as can be and it certainly has an amazing wow factor, though I am not quite sure how great it will be for commercial use once everyone has picked their jaws up off the floor.

Some companies have found an application for the technology and put it to use already. GE seems to be the first major corporation to use this and that alone is worth doing it. Being the first garners a lot of press in itself. Now I don’t find their use of it very informative to viewers making me think it is just strictly for the wow factor. That said, if they had released their augmented reality application a mere year later than they actually did it would not have received all the “first use” press and probably would have been swept under the rug as outdated and useless.

Topps baseball card company on the other hand took the technology to a new level. Being that they already aren’t the first to use the technology, they didn’t have that benefit and needed to make something that would actually be useful and not just eye candy. They certainly achieved that goal by using the augmented reality as a game. They managed to take the interactivity level up by having virtual baseball players appear and be under your control. You then use your mini-baseball players to play baseball-related games. Their animation is yours to control. They won’t swing the bat until you make them. This was a great idea and will get children playing on their site. Children in fact are the main target audience for their product. Topps has moved augmented reality applications to the next level on the web while GE’s is now just useless eye candy in comparison.