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Recognition-based Augmentation: a non-GPS based Augmentation Technology using Visual Recognition by using mobile devices.

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“Mobile AR problematizes the notion of data disclosure more than it has been up to now, and it will do so under the guise of bringing us closer to utopia than ever before”.

Imar de Vries, 2012

Regularly, Dutch glossy Linda publishes special issues with what one may best regard as interactive paper, not digital paper but paper that has been printed on with a traditional printing method. The purpose is that one opens an app in one’s smartphone, scans a page in the magazine that is then augmented; a layer (or layers) of additional information are superimposed upon the image in the smartphone’s screen. So, through the screen of the smartphone one observes the page in the magazine, with a layer of additional information added, ranging from a plain text message, a clickable URL, or a static picture to a Youtube video.

Linda Magazine is certainly not the only to use this technology. US men’s magazine Esquire experimented with a similar technology[1] and there are more (commercial) examples available. For instance Dutch Football Magazine Voetbal International published its season listing handbook in an augmented issue and Dutch public broadcaster VPRO published a printed weekly TV guide in the same fashion.

Interactive paper, in collaboration with the use of a (mobile) smartphone, is regarded as a category of AR, Augmented Reality. AR at its turn is a variation of Virtual Reality. VR technology completely immerses users within a synthetic environment where users cannot see the real world around him, whereas AR allows the user to see the real world, with virtual objects superimposed upon or composited with the real world. AR supplements reality, rather than completely replacing it. (Azuma, 1997).

Currently there are four types of AR that emerge in both commercial as in non-commercial communication:

  • Projection-based Augmentation.

This category of augmentation uses virtual imagery to augment live images captured with a camera . A good example is the projection of virtual advertising board on sport lawns in telivized sports games. These boards look real but sporters may run straight trhough them as they do not exist other than on one’s television screen. An other stunning example of this technology is

  • Recognition-based Augmentation.

This category of augmentation uses recognition of shapes in real live to add a layer of information. Interactive paper is a typical example of this system of augmentation and will be discussed further on.

  • Location-based Augmentation

This category of augmentation uses three-point geo-localization to understand where t

he activated application actualluy is and mashes this information up with vacinity information (nearby information). There is an increasing number of applications in this genre like Geo Layar, Google Goggle, Nokia City Lens, Wikitude, 7Scenes and many others.

I have chosen to write about the use of interactive paper as a variation of the category of Recognition-based Augmentation. Before elaborating on recognition based augmentation, I would like to point out why I have chosen for this specific topic, what I believe the relevance of researching and understanding this technology is and what my intentions with the gained insights are.

Recognition-based Augmentation is not new. The development of AR started in the late sixties of last century when Ivan Sutherland created the first AR system in the form of a Head-Mounted-Display[2]. And with the rise of portable and mobile devices, the development of AR is not just set in laboratories but applications are developed for them. But then, The popularity of augmented reality (AR) applications on mobile devices is increasing, but there is as yet little research on their use in real-setting (Morrison et al., 2011).

One apperant and obvious application of this type of augmentation is that of augmented maps and, without pinpointing the abundance of (possible) superimposings, it is these practicalities that lead to an emerging usage by audiences. A good example is Ann Morrison’s collaborate project Maplens for Nokia Symbian smartphones using GPS (Morrison, 2011). I intend to elaboarte on these issues in my Software Studies paper.

How does Recognition-based Augmentation work?

Images are ‘optimized’ in databases by adding certain recognizable data. This optimization means that metadata are added (hyperlink information). When the carmera detects an image, it is sent to the database for referal. If the system recognizes the optimizing data in the image, it adds the hyperlink to the image and sends it back to the application in the smartphone. The app in the smartphone now shows both the camera view and th e added (int eractive) informartion layer, as show in the flow below.

As such, in my opinion the technology as a concept is not that complicated, other than that visual recognition is a trysome path. Without wanting to sound technologically determined, this technoloy may add value in particualr circumstances and can therefor be of use. Wheter this is to bring us closer to utopia, remains to be seen. We would have to determine what we mean bu utopia and, as De Vries questions, this technology is yet anoyher that problematizes the notion of data disclosure (under the guise of bringing us closer to uptopia. Let me therefore end with a question by Wendy Chun: is software ideology? (Chun, 2004) This maybe not a relevant question in a technical description of software as this document but, as I believe, ever so relevant in the positioning of software in our lives.



Azuma, R.T. (1997). A survey of Augmented Reality. Pressence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 6(4), p. 355 – 385.
De Vries, I.O. (2012). Tantalisingly Close. Amsterdam University Press
De Vries, I.O. (2012). Through the looking cellphone screen – Dreams of omniscience in an age of mobile augmented reality. Unpublished and non-disclosed.
Chou, T.L., ChanLin, L.J., (2012). Augmented reality smartphone environment orientation application: a case study of the Fu-Jen University mobile campus touring system. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 46, p. 410 – 416.
Starner, T., Mann, S., Rhodes, B., Levine, J., Healy, J., Kirsch, D., Picard, R. & Pentland, A. (1997). Augmented Reality Through Wearable Computing. The Media Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Morrison, A., Mulloni, A., Oulasvirta, A., Jacucci, G., Peltonen, P., Smalstieg, D. & Regenbrecht, H. (2011). Collaborative use of mobile augmented reality with paper maps. Computers & Graphics 35, p. 789 – 799.
Chun, W. (2004). On Software, or the Persistence of Visual Knowledge. MIT Press.


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Written by Kees Winkel

October 15, 2012 at 11:03

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