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Archive for October 2012

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.


Written by Kees Winkel

October 15, 2012 at 11:03

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Just imagine that you take a screenshot of a game you have just discovered. You print it out and hang it on the wall because you enjoy looking at the gamescape even when you are not playing. You find it pretty and intriguing at the same time. For you it is art, or at least arty.

I am not talking about some oversized warlord-type of hero with an arsenal of guns and ditto ammo in his futuristic battle dress, armament you have never seen or heard of in your entire life. Nor is it an overly-boobed virtual beauty with a sword as long as her legs nor a hyper-realistic goblin in a snuggly cave or the granite landscape with the obscure purples and greys straight out of Dear Esther’s island. It is nothing of the sort. Your print of that game on your wall has a freshness, abstractness, clearness and most certainly artiness one seldom encounters in the Global Games Universe. It is the landscape of Proun. And as my introduction bears a certain euforism, please bear in mind that if you are not into gaming, or art, go on and read something else.

Personally I like those artsy-fartsy games just for the sake of not constantly being in the middle of the road of contemporary Gamania (my personal hush-hush for playing games madness). Mainstream games are so common. Everybody plays them and in order to even dare talk about them, you will have to have reached levels that are simply unreachable for generation that have at least the number forty in their age. Seriously, I am one of those and for me it is rather about those petit indie games made of love, hope and devotion. Games that are not necessarily developed for the money but for the shear pleasure of finding new formats, graphics, satisfaction, challenge and fun. So for me Proun is like the jewel in that crown of video games. And I will tell you why. Proun was made up and developed by Joost van Dongen (http://www.proun-game.com/). It took him nearly six years to get what we have today: a dazzling on-rail dexterity game named after El Lissitzky’s master piece 1927 Proun 67, inspired by Kandinsky, Mondriaan, Tingiely, Switters, Fred Ford & Paul Reich lll (recognize any artifacts). The whole game looks like constant speed-increasing run through the Van Gogh, Haags Gemeente Museum and Kröller Möller at the same time (and making constant d-tours via MoMa).

To get some insight in what a game is all about, let’s have a look at what you have to do to play or better, control the game. This mechanics is one thing, for a player the dynamics is probably more relevant; this is really what the game does to you. And lastly, for our generation I would bet my bottom dollar that the aesthetics are of great importance. I all these three aspect Proun, in my point of view is a real goer for us baby boomers.

The trick of the game is to avoid all kinds of Kandinsky-kind of obstacles. For the purpose you only have three of the four cursor-arrows available on your keyboard (left, right and upwards). And by god, you are going to need them. That is basically all about the mechanics of the game: left, right and frontwards. So you push the button but not just randomly. You better be aware of which little arrow you press, how long you press it and how it takes to press it either again or press the opposite to avoid yet another block, circle, rectangle or what mathematical shapes have we. Furthermore, by pressing the upward arrow your playing ball goes accelerates constantly which makes the pressing left and/or right faster and faster as well. I never achieved any level I could mention here without loosing all of my credibility.

To me, playing Proun evokes a strange feeling of enjoyable (near) pain and frustration (I recon as I am not really into any form of masochism personally) I am happy that you can enjoy this game as single player or choose to compete with your art-minded buddies. I swear, it will bring up the old feeling of Indy 500 for the Atari 2600 Video game console, synchronizing your body moves with every little curve you make. Talking about dynamics.

I expressed my euphoric feelings both in how to play the game, how to enjoy playing it and its modernistic caresses. So if you are going to have ride, give me a call. We might share the excitement. The game can be played up to four in a split screen and has some other features you may enjoy. Just have a go; there is a free trial version at http://www.proun-game.com/.

Written by Kees Winkel

October 12, 2012 at 17:53

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