If we do a search of augmented reality in Google, we see many references of home grown developers making various innovations. Is it worthwhile for companies make a jump into this technology?
While companies and marketing agnecies are still experimenting and evaluating how this technology can bring a new level of branding experience, Acrosssair is already leading the forefront in developing augmented reality apps for marketing. Their apps caught the attention of many media (Macworld, BBC, BusinessWeek).
I had an opportunity to ask Dana Farbo, president of Acrossair/Imano, a few questions about the future of augmented reality and how his agency is taking advantage of it. This will be a part one of two series.
Q: Tell me something about acrossair?
Dana Farbo: Acrossair is a mobile application development company currently focused on iPhone apps. We are part of the Imano global group which also contains Imano, digital creative agency, CommerceNow, eCommerce SAS platform and TVGuide.co.uk, a digital publishing group. Our primary development is in mobile augmented reality and we develop our own stand alone apps as well as apps for major brands.
Q: Can you list a few Augmented Reality projects acrossair created?
Dana Farbo: Mass transit finders such as the New York Subway, Nearest Tube and others for cities around the world including Tokyo, Madrid, Paris, San Francisco and more represent some of our early work and are very useful apps. We also have NearestWiki for finding local points of interest, TweetsAR, Nearest Places and we helped create the popular WorkSnug application. We also created the Stella Artois Le Bar Guide and have included it in our recently launched acrossair browser.
Q: What is the proudest AR project(s) acrossair has launch to date?
Dana Farbo: The acrossair augmented reality browser is the app I am most proud of to date. This is a phenomenal leap forward in location based search using AR. Features such as the Car Finder and My Places make it a daily go-to app for me. The Google search function alone is worth it as it allows you to cut to the chase of finding what you are looking for in a visual sense faster than anything I have used. In addition for use on the 3GS with the compass, we also made it compatible for the 3G phone so that more people would get a chance to use the AR functions. And we allowed horizontal scrolling so that you don’t have to spin yourself in a circle to see what is around you. There are really too many functions to list and I find it more useful every day.
Q: How did your team came up with the idea of using AR for metro systems?
Dana Farbo: It was really a natural as London is our home office and we are here in New York. We use the Tube and subway systems a lot and these allowed us to easily find what we needed. Plus, the data feed was readily available and not subject to constant change so could put it in a closed app with minimal upkeep. This also allowed us to work with the usability and the way we portrayed the content. I think they turned out pretty well and should be around for a long time.
Where do you see the future of augmented reality?
Dana Farbo: Augmented reality is going to be a part of all of our daily lives at some point within the next decade. We are such a mobile world these days and we want our coffee and our information immediately. There are incredible opportunities in assisted learning where we can be in a place or doing something and receive feeds and data overlays that enhance the environment. For ISMAR this past year, the team created a spec app that portayed 3D dinosaurs to represent a visual account of what type of dinosaur inhabited the area you were physically at. Plus, we could segment by period so I could see what was here 100 million years ago, 250 million years ago, etc. Very cool! [Author inserted: Check out the response from ISMAR on Acrossair’s presentation]
There is also a huge social component that will evolve as well and this will probably further lead us into protecting our identities but getting closer to those in our inner circle. I will know where my linked friends are and I will have categories of access to who can see what I am doing. But we will also have the ability to transmit my friends into my space virtually so that they may help me with a task or have a chat. Looking through another’s eyes takes on a whole new meaning.
These are just a few examples. There are so many smart people working in the area now and in the future everyone will use one form of AR or another so it will evolve like any embedded element of our lives.