Tag Archives: History

AR Gaming apps

Augmented Reality Games on personal information systems like smart phones are on the rise. Smart phones games are usually easy to play and they can be played almost everywhere and at every time. One of the first mobile AR game was “ARQuake” [1], a first-person PC shooter game, created in the year 2000 [2]. The game allows the player to walk around in the real world while he plays a game in a computer generated environment. To play the game the player need a GPS system, a standard laptop on a backpack with GPS tracker and orientation sensors and ad least a custom made gun controller [3].

AR Quake Game
AR Quake needs a huge equipment [2]
Perhaps the first augmented reality smart phone game called AR Soccer. The game was available in 2004 and the player has to kick a virtual ball with his real foot into the virtual goal [1]. A game with the name AR Soccer is still available in the today’s app stores (iOS, Android), but it seems that it has not the same kind of game content like the very first version. In the same year, the first multi-user augmented reality game called “Invisible Train” was presented. In that game, players controls virtual trains on real wooden miniature railroad tracks. With their PDA’s, which are connected over Wi-Fi, they saw and steered the virtual trains [4].

Invisible Train
Invisible Train [4]
Combine virtual games with the real world

The major advantages by playing games on mobile devices like smart phones are whose mobility. They can be played anywhere; they can combine the real world with virtual elements. Augmented reality games are not restricted on a TV or PC screen and they can offer a better user experience [5]. Below there are introduced some different kind of up-to-date augmented reality games.

Massively Multiplayer Game: Ingress

Ingress (iOS, Android) is an augmented-reality massively multiplayer online location-based game [6]. The playing field is the world himself. The Ingress Game was developed by Niantic Labs from Google. The first in 2012 released version was only for Android devices, but since mid-2014 it is also in the iTunes App Store available. In the game, the player has to find and to capture “portals”. These portals are real world places like landmarks, monuments, buildings and so on. The player has to go close to these portals, at most only 40 meters away. When the player captured a portal, he can link portals together and earns in that way points for him and his fraction. The other fraction, there are two fractions, the ” Enlightened” and the ” Resistance”, tries to get the portals back. In that way, the player has to walk around, find the portals, capture or defend it, alone or together with other players [7].

Ingress Screenshots

The business model of the Ingress game depends on the one hand on an in-game store, where the players can buy special game items with real money. On the other hand, companies can pay for portals at their location or in-game equipment. These portals or game equipment wear then a company logo and/or the name of the company [6].

Game Apps for Education

Augmented reality apps could give a hand to learn things better. It is possible to enrich texts with supplementary multimedia information like movies, images or links to further knowledge sources. For that, papers and books can contain “markers” that, when scanned with an app on a smart phone or a tablet, shows this additional information [7]. An example of such an app for tablets is the i-Wow Atlas World (iOS, Android). With this app, children get easy additional and fascinating facts to our planet when the scan a globe with the app.

Another example is the app smart phone and tablet app “Quiver” (iOS, Android): With “Quiver” children colors plain pictures of for example animals and with the app they can see the animal in 3D. Children gets with these apps an idea how the animals are living in the real world. The pictures to color for must be purchased, the app himself is free. Without these pictures, the app does not work. An example how it works is demonstrated in the video below.

Another application are simulations which helps to understand things better [7]. A famous and well known kind of simulation and educational app is “SkyView” (iOS, Android). This app helps to spots objects on the sky like stars, galaxies, constellations and other additional facts about astronomy. Apps like this are normally not free to use or includes some advertisings.

Sky View
Screenshot from the SkyView app on a iPhone

Such educational apps can help parents and teachers to help children to learn things easier and in more than one way. The children not only read the facts about a topic, they can also see the objects in 3D and they can play with it. To learn something with the assistance of augmented content is named “Augmented Learning” or “E-Learning” [8][9].

Funny pastime games: Virtual Basketball an Bowmaster AR

Finally, there are also other games for the pastime available. These kind of games usually are not free to play. Either the cost something in the app store or the contains some advertisements.

Virtual Basketball (iOS): For that game, the player need to printout a small marker. To play the game, the smart phone’s camera has to point at that marker and a virtual basketball basket is shown up. Now the player can throw basketballs into the basket to get points. This game is a funny implementation of augmented reality and a very good example of the technology.

Bowmaster Augmented Reality (iOS): The game needs also a printed marker and it works similar to the Virtual Basketball game. Instead of throw balls, in that game the player has to shoot arrows to different targets.

Virtual Basekball and Bowmaster AR
Virtual Basketball and Bowmaster AR

[1] B. Furht (2011), Handbook of Augmented Reality, Springer: New York, Page 103
[2] Origins and Evolution, Augmera – Online Source: http://augmera.com/?p=65 [14.04.2016]
[3]AR Quake, Wikipedia – Online Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARQuake [14.04.2016]
[4] The Invisible Train, Technische Universität Graz – Online -Source: https://studierstube.icg.tugraz.at/invisible_train/ [15.04.2016]
[5] D. Schart, N. Tschanz (2015) Augmented Reality, Praxishandbuch, UVK: Konstanz, Page 32
[6] Ingress (video game), Wikipedia – Online Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingress_(video_game) [14.04.2016]
[7] Ingress: The game that reveals Google’s secret war to control London, The Guardian – Online-Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/04/ingress-the-game-that-reveals-googles-secret-war-to-control-london [14.04.2016]
[7] Augmented Reality – Wikipedia – Online Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality [15.04.2016]
[8] Lernen, Wikipedia – Online-Source: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lernen#E-Learning_und_Augmented_Learning [15.04.2016]
[9] Augmented learning, Wikipedia – Online Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_learning [15.04.2016]

A short history of augmented reality

The very first appearances of augmented reality happened in the late 1960s and 1970s. Ivan Sutherland is credited with creating the very first head mounted display, which was introduced at the University of Utah in 1968. [1]work
First Head Mounted Display

In 1975 Myron Krueger creates Videoplace that allows users to interact with virtual objects for the first time. [2] The term augmented reality wasn’t really established until the early 1990s when the two Boeing employees Tom Caudell and David Mizell used the term to describe the extension of the range of view with work-specific information, which was done with a heads-up-display (HUD). The 1990s marked an important period for augmented reality, as several factors, such as the development of mobile computers and smartphones with more and more efficient hardware. In 1997 the first mobile augmented reality system (MARS) was developed at the Columbia University in New York. The system used GPS data to display information on a head-worn-display to show more information about the building and the campus to the person wearing it. The calculation power came from a laptop which was carried on the back.
First Mobile Augmented Reality System

After the year 2000 the amount of augmented reality application increased drastically in several industries. The first augmented reality browser for smartphones, Wikitude, was introduced in 2008. Since then the development of new augmented reality apps and games has increased, also thanks to the breakthrough of the iPhone. In 2014 wearable augmented reality makes headlines thanks to Google Glass. Since then augmented reality has spread and more and more apps are being developed. [3]

[1] http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ar-vr-technology-discussion,3811-3.html
[2] https://educationar.wikispaces.com/History+of+Augmented+Reality
[3] http://media2mult.uni-osnabrueck.de/pmwiki/fields/wp13/index.php?n=AR.GeschichteDerAugmentedReality


Virtual Reality (VR): 50 Years of innovation!

This post describes important milestones in the development of virtual reality (VR). Of course these milestones are not concluding, but these milestones are important in the development of the Virtual Reality.

The Sensorama (1962)

In 1962, Morton Heilig built a prototype of a multi-sensory theater. This theater was called Sensorama and was able to play five short movies. The movies were displayed in a wide-angle view and provide body tilting. Additional it supplied stereo sound and the use of aromas (tastes). So the Sensorama was the first passive virtual reality machine. Unfortunately, the Sensorama was not a financial success story, so the Sensorama was built only once. [1][2]

Sensorama from 1962 [A]
The Sensorama patent from 1962 is linked here.

The computer program Sketchpad (1963)

In 1963, the computer scientist Ivan Sutherland wrote the first interactive computer program named Sketchpad. This program was a pioneer of today’s computer-aided design (CAD) programs and it was a major breakthrough in the evolution of computer graphics and human-computer interaction. Sketchpad was the corner stone for graphical user interfaces in our today’s personal computers. [3][4]

Here is the link to the technical report of the Sketchpad program.

Head mounted display: The Sword of Damocles (1968)

The first virtual and augmented reality head mounted display (HMD) was called “The Sword of Damocles”. It was also developed by Ivan Sutherland in 1968, with the help of one of his students, Bob Sproull. The unit was bulky and extremely heavy, but it has a binocular display and was able to display a computer-displayed perspective view of a room or a cube. [5][6]

Sword of Damocles HMD
Sword of Damocles HMD [B]
Here is the description of the “Sword of Damocles”.

The term “Virtual Reality” was born (1982)

It is not exactly known if the term “Virtual Reality” and his meaning was used for the first time in the science fiction novel “The Judas Mandala” written by Damien Broderick in 1982. But only five years later, in 1987, the term “Virtual Reality” was registered in the “Oxford English Dictionary”. [7][8]

Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (1992)

The Automatic Virtual Environment (acronym CAVE) was firstly presented in 1992. The Cave was a room-size visualization solution, where projectors creates on the different walls in a room a virtual 3d environment. The CAVE technology can be used for example in flight simulators or supports architects to visualize their constructions. The construction of a CAVE system remembers partly on a Holodeck from the science fiction movies Star Trek. [9][10][11][12]

Cave Automatic Virtual Environment
Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (Today) [C]
Nintendo Virtual Boy (1995)

The first portable head mounted console which are able to display true 3d graphics was the Nintendo “Virtual Boy”. It was released in 1995 and persisted of a head mounted display (HMD) and a controller. The display color was only monochrome, because Nintendo uses only rad LED’s. Other LED’s were at this time not efficient enough. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Virtual Boy was not successful, because there were only a five game titles which supports this new hardware. On the other hand, at this time, there were others game consoles on the market, like the Sega Saturn or the Sony PlayStation. So Nintendo sold only almost 77’000 pieces of the Virtual Boy. [13][14]

Nintendo Virtual Boy
Nintendo Virtual Boy [D]
The Matrix Movie (1999)

In 1999 the movie “The Matrix” hits theaters all over the world. The movie says that the human beings live in a virtual world, controlled by machines. With this movie, the topic of virtual reality is better known by the mainstream. [15]

Virtual Reality Head Mounted Display (2000)

In the year 2000, the US company Micro Vision developed for the US AirForce a HDTV head mounted display with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. [16]

First Data Glass from the Fraunhofer Institute (2009)

In 2009, the Fraunhofer Institute in Dresden presented the first data glass. This data glass contains an Eye-Tracker CMOS chip, so the glass knows where the eyes are looking for. The data glass can display information on the two screens and can give in that way the right information to the wearer. [17]

Google introduced Google Glass (2012)

The US internet company Google introduced in 2012 the optical head mounted display (OHMD) Google Glass. This glasses are combined with a small computer. The wearer communicates with the glass via voice, the wearer talks to the Google Glass. One year later, in 2013, Google started selling a prototype of Google Glass to qualified “Glass Explorers”. Also one year later, in 2014, Google started to sell the Google Glass to the public. Of course, the Google Glass or other Data Glasses belongs more to the topic of augmented reality instead of virtual reality. But these glasses are very close to the use of head mounted displays HMD. [18][19]

Facebook buy Oculus VR (2014)

Oculus VR, simply know as Oculus, is a virtual reality technology company from California in the united states. The company was founded in 2012 and developed, with the support of a Kickstarter campaign, the virtual reality head mounted display Oculus Rift. In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion and in 2015, Oculus partnered with Samsung to develop the Samsung Gear VR. [20]

Oculus Rift HMD
Head Mounted Display (HMD) from Oculus [E]
Microsoft introduced HoloLens (2015)

In 2015, Microsoft presented together with Microsoft Windows 10 his new Data Glass HoloLens. This HoloLens beds 3d holograms into the real world. It also an augmented reality Glass. But it shows, where we are going in the future: The borders between reality and virtual object disappears little by little. [16][21]

Microsoft HoleLens together with Skype.
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensorama
[2] http://www.mortonheilig.com/InventorVR.html
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sketchpad
[4] Sears A., Jacko J. A. (2006), The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications, Taylor & Francis Group: New York
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_of_Damocles_(virtual_reality)
[6] http://www.roadtovr.com/watch-the-godfather-of-vr-ivan-sutherland-speak-at-the-2015-proto-awards/
[7] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damien_Broderick
[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_automatic_virtual_environment
[10] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_Automatic_Virtual_Environment
[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodeck
[12] https://www.christiedigital.com/en-us/3d/virtual-simulation/virtual-reality-simulator/cave-automatic-virtual-environment
[13] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Boy
[14] http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html
[15] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matrix
[16] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-Mounted_Display
[17] http://www.fraunhofer.de/de/presse/presseinformationen/2009/06/Mediendienst062009Thema3.html
[18] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Glass
[19] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Glass
[20] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oculus_VR
[21] https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us

Image sources:
[A] http://www.mortonheilig.com/InventorVR.html
[B] http://www.roadtovr.com/watch-the-godfather-of-vr-ivan-sutherland-speak-at-the-2015-proto-awards
[C] https://www.christiedigital.com/en-us/3d/virtual-simulation/virtual-reality-simulator/cave-automatic-virtual-environment
[D] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Boy
[E] http://www.mtv.com/news/2467386/ps4-oculus-rift/

The inspiration to this post came from here.