Oct 252010

Blame it on the Zeitgeist. I am spending most of my time at the moment developing and conceiving AR Services and Games for clients and my own company MUVEDesign. Also in my lecturing/consultancy roles across transmedia and multi platform in Sydney such as at the Australian Film TV and Radio school earlier in the year and at the moment at MetroScreen, I would say that more than half the projects, being collaboratively created as part of curriculum, have a strong, story based Augmented Reality component. I posted last year on these emerging AR entertainment services but there are still not that many ‘story rich’ examples created for market. So is there a future for these new forms? A hybrid combination of story, social location gaming all delivered on the latest camera based smart phones? Read on for some case studies and a couple of my own examples.

AdTech Tokyo Main RoomFirstly I am presenting on an Augmented Reality panel later this week in Tokyo, part of Ad:Tech and now most folk are ‘caught up’ on simple AR business models and current delivery (see my post from over a year ago) I will be speaking more about a near term future – especially in the area of branded location based augmented reality games and services, adveraugrealitygaming anyone 🙂 I also thought it would be a good opportunity to show one of three developments in this space I am doing called ‘Time Treasure” – a rudimentary, story rich LBARG (location based AR game?!) that I am currently story designing & coding for Android tablets. Short 2 minute taster video embedded below…

Story in Augmented Game Worlds

Without giving the plot away, the structure of this game is quite straightforward. There are ten layers of time from 2050 back to 5000BC that you slowly penetrate following stories, clues and trails all based at POIs (points of interest, precise locations) around your city. The traditional MMOG talking-head quest and story givers are a unique part of this as well as a range of capture & loot quests that require you in some cases to do a little ‘real world’ grinding… ok not too much 🙂 For me the challenge as always is about creating strong ‘call to actions’ and constructing a narrative backbone to make it worth your while walking and in some cases running around town! I will do a post when this reaches a full working pilot.

Speaking of early trailers it is a shame that Ghostwire, which has been around the blogosphere for over a year and that I have written about a few times, is now shelved while they find another publisher. I think this may be a platform issue being created only for DSi (tablet, iPhone 4 anyone), but the horror or crime genre this is set in is obviously rife for the taking, in this locative form…hence perhaps why we are starting to see the release of simple AR locative story services appear more regularly in this genre, such as zGhost 2 for the iPhone, iTouch and even iPad…ready for Halloween but I think they missed a ‘branded entertainment’ trick, in that it wasn’t tied into the release of Paranormal 2 film?

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Apr 082010

What happens when the content cloud descends? Rocket science or people science?

Here is a really simple metaphor to illustrate the pervasiveness and societal significance of Augmented Reality. For the past 20 years humanity has been ‘floating’ its content (its personas, its information, life data, economy and social media) creating a distant, electronic cloud drifting, conceptually, way up above us. A cloud that is only reachable when we area able to connect to it via a variety of fixed and mobile ‘information’ screens, themselves connected to a veritable wormhole aka the global internet. (In reality hundreds of thousands of servers murmuring around the world with billions connected via hard wiring to receive richer media & experiences).

Up until now this ‘content cloud’ (different to cloud computing) has been abstractly disconnected from our physical lives – we read news about California earthquakes sitting in Australia, we view videos on the train of a concert three weeks ago at a local venue, we have personal social networks fragmented across time and space, play a game set in Hong Kong on a screen in London, Facebook groups comprised of half friended, remote avatars (the extended self ). 99% of the content in the cloud is not relevant to here and now (although a philosophical moot point if the now ‘is’ the participation and consumption itself?!)

In a near AR future, non geo-sensitive content will be perceived as incomplete

The Descending Cloud

But that cloud, has reached saturation, it no longer can keep afloat, there is just too much or rather just enough content to be temporally and geographically relevant. In other words there is so much ‘stuff’ up there that it now makes sense to access it, in a true Web 3.0 way, in real time, the present moment from anywhere you are. It will at its simplest level be Google Earth, slowly morphing out of your PC screen, growing to global scale and locking into place over the real world or Facebook mapping itself onto the billion users faces out in the street, advertisers reaching out to where ever you are, personalizing your everyday life with relevancy vs noise.

The always on cloud has now become very useful to a range of stakeholders. Marketeers, storytellers & users alike. Mists of information, media and experiences will engulf onto our cities and physical infrastructure, it will become a persistent fog that will coat everything in its path with layers of time and place stamped content. It will create a web of layers, of parallel narratives and realities and enhance our experiences.

OK fluffy intro over and this leads to some high level areas of a ‘consultancy’ whitepaper I did mid last year (which annoyingly I still can’t publish) but some key themes are explored below.

What does this mean on the ground, a ground covered in this fog of information. The transformative effect of our physical world being invaded by ‘cyberspace’ will make the current discussions about social network privacy seem like a children’s party. When the ‘web’ spreads into and permeates our real world will their be any hiding places. As portable screens become practical (think iPad with camera), pervasive wearable computing becomes commonplace and surveillance technology evolves to being ubiquitous and transparent – society will evolve way ahead of government and law, who powerless to stop the flow of information on connected screens will be even more powerless to stop this flow moving into real space?

“Augmented reality allows people to visualize cyberspace as an integral part of the physical world that surrounds them, effectively making the real world clickable and linked,” says Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm.

The videos below might give them ‘digital’ food for thought.

Beware: I would like to point out everything below has already happened or about to launch in the next few months.


From Eyetap.org (a wearable computing lab in Toronto) – “Stewart Morgan discusses Architecture of Information on the show Daily Planet. It is a visionary short film showing augmented reality, and the implications of it’s applications.” From 2007


What kind of society will it be when our personal profiles, details and content are available to anyone in the street simply by scanning our face. That person across the train carriage, are they really playing an iPhone game or finding out ‘everything’ about you, well at least that which you have placed on the open web? A short video that will shock forward thinkers…

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