Gimmicky Augmented Reality Videos Popping Up In Music Videos And Magazines

from the not-quite-there-yet dept

If you haven’t been paying attention, over the last couple of months, the “buzz” over “augmented reality” has been building. It seems likely that it’s going to be one of those topics you hear a lot about in 2010, so get ready for it now. The basic concept is that you’ll be able to overlay digital information on the real world, and conceptually, it could be really cool. If you had heads-up displays or a contact lens, it could actually be quite useful. The concept itself isn’t new. This video from five years ago shows that people have been working on the concept for quite some time:

Yet, in the last few months, it’s reached new levels of buzz, in part due to the fact that new augmented reality apps for mobile phones have started showing up. Some of these are cool, some are gimmicky — but all are pretty early in development. It’s going to take some time before they’re really useful.

But that isn’t stopping some folks from trying to get ahead of the curve in jumping on the augmented reality bandwagon. Unfortunately, the end result seems kinda gimmicky and useless — more for show, rather than to do anything useful. Last week, all the buzz was about singer John Mayer releasing an augmented reality video, but if you watch the following video, you might wonder what the point is:

Beyond being complicated (you need to either print out an image on a piece of paper, or have the image show up on your iPhone, and then you need to turn on your webcam and line up the image on the paper/iPhone with one on the screen), it’s not clear what value the augmented reality adds, other than the fact that you can rotate the video in 3D as it’s playing.

And, now, Esquire magazine is trying to do the same thing. An image in the magazine, when held up to a computer webcam and lined up correctly, and Robert Downey Jr. will apparently show up on your screen and say stuff. I give Esquire some credit for trying, and making the paper magazine have something different that might attract some buyers, but it doesn’t seem like they’re using the augmented reality for anything useful.

My guess is that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these useless augmented reality experiments, combined with lots of press coverage and hype — and most people won’t even bother, because it’s not that useful. Perhaps, then, the hype can die down and some really useful augmented reality apps can start to show up.

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Comments on “Gimmicky Augmented Reality Videos Popping Up In Music Videos And Magazines”

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Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Input device?

Maybe I just can’t see the video very clearly, but this does not look like augmented reality to me. Using a web cam to track motion and display results in a 3d model (granted a moving model) seems like an input method.

Augmented reality would be using the web cam to show YOUR living room on the screen and have John Mayer dance around in it. Right?

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Input device?

I completely agree. There’s no part of your reality that it incorporates. At one point, the kid says you can see him in the background, but that was either just glare, or a very low intensity projection of the webcam’s view which didn’t move.

As for early examples, Terminator and RoboCop both had augmented reality heads-up displays. I’m sure there are older examples too.

Ilfar says:

Re: Re: Re:

I dunno, the whole article comes across to me as rather scathing of the whole effort. With the general tone, and the wording, I’m not entirely sure he IS happy about it…

Anything that gets Augmented Reality more attention is good in my books. The more people thinking about it, the better the chance someone hits that Eureka moment. And if all there are is ‘useless’ experiments at the moment, that’s just a spur for someone to make something better.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

My favorite is actually

My favorite VR head set is actually the Vuzix Wrap 920. What I can picture as apps are things like navigation aids, Virtual teachers, cool little pixies, dragons and the like to entertain kids, groupware allowing people to mix Virtual/augmented realities ….

… also like when blue tooth came out, people thinking that you are nuts for talking to things that aren’t there, “oh what a cute little kitten you are play with that ball of yarn” …. GRIN

Kids with VR googles pestering their parents over the next cool thing….

kid – Mom I want Mikey the poo flinging VR Monkey
mom – no thats disgusting
kid – please!!!
mom – no

Virtual adware that try?s to sell you Viagra, penis enlargement, tells you have inherited 10 million dollars from your dead Nigerian oil tycoon uncle… etc

On the Legal side… Laws against Virtual/augmented reality while driving, Laws against hacking other peoples Virtual/augmented realities, banning of porno pals to protect the children of course.

Pete Austin says:

Augmented Reality is for sad bastards

…who deck themselves out with virtual reality crap, and act retarded because they they are not paying attention to real life. See the “Gargoyles” in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.

I know there are some who think this technology is cool, and I agree that it makes for great party games. But I still think that individuals who walk along, talking to thin air – let alone interact with imaginary objects – look like loonies.

Anonymous Coward says:

One use I wish for...

Combine a head mounted display, with facial recognition technology, and a translucent screen. Then when you look at someone, you can see if you can pull up face and name information. And since your seeing both images, a human error check can be performed at the same time. Solving the problem of false positives, while letting the system be used in the field.

One use I wish for, since I am so bad with names and faces.

Todd M Denis (user link) says:

plenty more AR where that came from

This Esquire thing is just the latest in a long line of soon-to-be-forgotten AR gimmicks. Seems like it might be one of the better mainstream efforts though … and publishers need all the tricks they can muster … but I’m keeping my expectations in check.

We ran down 40 good and not so good AR projects readers here might be into:
40 Augmented Reality Projects Sure To Blow Your Mind … Or Just Blow (

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