Disney Infinity might make its way to Microsoft’s HoloLens

Disney Infinity might make its way to Microsoft’s HoloLens.

It’s only natural for an entertainment corporation as massive as The Walt Disney Company, with IP holdings that span the likes of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, to be exploring the potential of virtual reality. It’s something John Vignocchi, VP of production at Disney Interactive, the division behind toys-to-life platform Disney Infinity, confirmed when we chatted a few weeks back. But when it comes to Infinity, the future focus seems to be weighted more toward augmented reality. “We’ve had multiple meetings and discussions with Oculus, multiple meetings and discussions with Sony about Morpheus, multiple meetings and discussions with Microsoft about HoloLens. We’re very interested in that space,” Vignocchi said. “There’s the socialization problem right now with VR, but augmented reality is very exciting.”

The issue of isolation in VR isn’t new. It’s a hurdle Sony PlayStation addressed onstage during its E3 presentation last month and one Worldwide Studio head Shuhei Yoshida is determined to overcome with a range of new Morpheus demos (see: RIGS). But despite the inroads being made toward socializing VR gameplay, Disney Interactive head John Blackburn remains unconvinced it’s the way forward for the local co-op baked into the family-friendly Infinity.

My own experience with these devices right now is that I feel like they almost cut directly against what we’re trying to do, which is experiences that can involve you with somebody else,” Blackburn said. “The idea of kind of creating that family memory and playing it together is really core to the experience we’re trying to build. And so when you put a lot of these headsets on, it’s almost isolating in a way. Until we can get over that piece of the technology, it’s not as interesting to me.”

Which is why Blackburn hinted that if Infinity were to pick a side in the VR vs. AR battle, it’d likely come out as a HoloLens project. And when you consider the parallels between the crafting of Infinity‘s Toy Box creation mode and Microsoft’s recently announced HoloLensMinecraft project, the prospect doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Though, that’s not to say Disney Interactive’s completely ruling out VR.

“You kind of look at Microsoft’s HoloLens stuff where you can kind of see through,” said Blackburn. “And that one’s kind of interesting from that perspective because I can see everybody else around me. But yes, we’re absolutely interested in that space because the Toy Box itself is kind of a very interesting concept of ‘I’m in the world I built.'”

Apple Acquistion Of Metaio: Legitimate Augmented Reality Tech

Once thought of as gimmicky or primarily for gaming applications, Augmented Reality (AR) technology has the ability to quite literally reshape the landscape in many markets, with new capabilities from simple telepresence to industrial and architectural design, to navigation and tracking. Google GOOGL -1.52% has been heavily behind the technology for a while now, with Google Glass and their Project Tango tablet, and Facebook/Oculus recently moved in on AR firm Surreal Vision. Now it appears Apple AAPL -1.11% is apparently turning its gun sights on the market space as well.

Earlier this week, it was announced the Apple had acquired AR technology developer Metaio, a seasoned veteran in the space that has been around for over a decade, if you can believe that. Apple didn’t have much to say about the acquisition but the move itself speaks volumes. Metaio develops AR tools that use 3D tracking capable devices for development and deployment of Augmented Reality apps.

The most natural, immediate application for Metaio technologies would be with Apple’s iPad line. Tablet platforms have the light-weight portability you need for carrying a 3D mapping-capable device but also have enough mechanical area to house the additional circuitry and camera technology required to implement the design, not to mention the additional CPU and graphics horsepower required.

Samsung is making a VR headset for its phones and tablets

Samsung is making a VR headset for its phones and tablets.

Samsung is known for its ubiquitous Galaxy smartphones and tablets, popular smart televisions and, most recently, smartwatches. The Korean consumer electronics giant is about to enter another major new category: virtual reality headsets. We’re told by sources close to Samsung that a virtual reality headset is not only in the works at the company’s mobile division, but it’s set to be announced this year. The urgency is said to be a measure of beating Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus to market. Some developers already have early versions of the headset, which — at least in the development stages — is powered by flagship Galaxy devices (think: Note 3, Galaxy S5). The consumer model, however, is said to require the power of next-gen, unannounced Galaxy phones and tablets.

First things first, what are we talking about here specifically? A peripheral. We’re talking about a virtual reality headset — along the lines of Oculus Rift, but more akin to the Android-powered GameFace Labs prototype (seen below) — created by Samsung, powered by Samsung products. This is not the rumored “Galaxy Glass” project.

We’re told it has an OLED screen, as good or better than in the second Rift dev kit; it’s not clear how the headset connects to your phone/tablet, but we’re guessing it’s a wired connection rather than wireless. Given VR’s reliance on immediacy, a wired setup is a requirement (any lag introduced breaks the immersion, and often makes people sick). It’s also not clear how, or if, Samsung’s VR headset tracks head movement depth-wise. In the case of both Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift, separate cameras face the player and track depth by reading sensors on the respective headsets.

Beyond beating the competition to market, Samsung’s said to be targeting a lower price tier with its headset. Don’t expect anything too low — we’re still talking about a VR headset — but the idea again is to undercut Oculus and Sony. Unlike Galaxy Gear smartwatches, we’re told that Samsung’s in-house OS, Tizen, doesn’t play a part in the VR headset.

This is a device meant for use with games. What type of games? Android games! Sure, but which ones? That’s certainly the question. Great games make the platform, and VR games are especially tough to crack given the newness of the medium. One thing’s for sure: most major games won’t work on VR as direct ports. Something like Minecraft VR makes sense on paper, but does it actually play well?

That question, and many more surrounding Samsung’s VR headset, remain a mystery. For now! Perhaps you know more? We’d love for you to get in touch! We’ll have more on Samsung’s virtual reality plans as we hear more; for now, the official line from Korea is, “Samsung doesn’t comment on rumor and speculation.”

GOOGLE GLASS FOR FITNESS – Race Yourself – Virtual Reality Fitness Motivation

Google a pensé à tout, avec son application Race Yourself pour Google Glass, qui a pour but de rendre votre footing beaucoup plus fun.

Avec Race Yourself, votre course se transformera en jeu avec plus d’une trentaine de modes différents. Cette application donne une toute autre dimension au sport sous bien des aspects puisque vous pourrez fuir devant des zombies, faire du vélo, courir contre des adversaires virtuels ou bien encore sprinter devant un rocher qui menace de vous écraser. Vous pourrez également affronter votre propre fantôme. Du footing mais pas seulement, car une fonctionnalité pour le ski est prévue où il sera possible de franchir des portes virtuelles. Mais attention, Race Yourself n’utilise que la réalité virtuelle et non la réalité augmentée.

En savoir plus ? http://hitek.fr/actualite/application-race-yourself-google-glass_1593

Automakers Build Showroom in an App – NYTimes.com – (Owned Media)

Automakers Build Showroom in an App – NYTimes.com.


VENICE BEACH, Calif. — Automakers trying to reach young buyers face a conundrum: How do they sell a car to people who stay away from a showroom?

Jonathan Alcorn for The New York Times

Morris May, founder of Specular Theory, displays an augmented reality car model on an iPad.


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“They won’t come into the stores to educate themselves,” said Peter Chung, general manager of Magic Toyota and Scion in Edmonds, Wash. “They’ll do that online.”

More than half of the younger buyers surveyed by AutoTrader.com, a car-buying site, said they wanted to avoid interacting with dealership sales representatives.

In response, automakers like Cadillac and Toyota are starting to embrace technology that tries to take the showroom to the buyer. Known as augmented reality, it embeds images and videos in a picture on the user’s smartphone or tablet. The result is a far more detailed view of the image, often in three dimensions with added layers of information.

For example, when Cadillac introduced the ATS last year, it created a campaign in cities across the country that allowed observers to point an iPad at a chalk mural and watch the car drive through scenes like China’s mountainous Guoliang Tunnel and Monaco’s Grand Prix circuit. The goal was to grab the attention of potential buyers, especially younger ones, who would not normally think of Cadillac when researching new cars.

Later, Cadillac added the technology to its print advertising, pointing readers to download the brand’s smartphone application to view a three-dimensional model of the car. The app allows users to zoom in on the car and turn it 360 degrees by swiping their finger across the screen.

“It’s obviously different than going to a dealership, but at least it’s enough to engage with the vehicle in an environment where they’re comfortable,” said Arianna Kughn, Cadillac’s social media manager.

Audi has used the technology in its brochures and instruction manuals, while Toyota added it to a campaign with the computer-generated pop star Hatsune Miku to interest a younger audience in its 2012 Corolla and to increase the number of downloads of the automaker’s shopping app.

Other businesses are seeing an opportunity as well. Metaio, a German software company with an office in San Francisco, has worked on projects for Audi, Volkswagen and Toyota.

Specular Theory, based here in Venice Beach, is using Hollywood production techniques to create renderings that allow users to open the doors of a car that is not really there, peer inside and roam around, or take a test drive, merely by running their fingers over a phone or tablet screen.

Its founder, Morris May, is applying the expertise he developed over 20 years as a graphic designer on movies like “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” and “Spider-Man 2” to redefine the way people view cars in the showroom, online and through mobile devices.

“We’re changing the way people experience cars,” Mr. May said, as he used his finger to open the car door of the virtual model displayed on his iPad, revealing the interior of the car, including the dashboard, steering wheel and texture of the seats.

Augmented reality to the uninitiated may seem like a bizarre sci-fi plot device but is actually accessible to anyone with a smartphone or tablet. Mr. May turned on his iPad and pointed the camera at a piece of paper that looked like a camouflage print, which concealed the code for what is called a target image. He trained the lens on the image and a three-dimensional car appeared on the tablet screen.

The technology offers cost savings to automakers. Traditionally, they spend millions when marketing a new model, on photo shoots or building a “cookie-cutter configurator” that changes the car’s colors or features on a Web site, Mr. May says.

When a new model is introduced, that work is scrapped, and the production team, which includes photographers, Web developers and media buyers, starts anew.

As an alternative, Specular Theory uses an automaker’s computer-aided design data to create material that is consistent across Web browsers, phone and tablet screens and showroom floors, where dealers can project and modify life-size, three-dimensional car models.

When an automaker makes a minor change to, say, the tailpipe of next year’s model, Specular Theory can eliminate the time and money spent creating a new campaign by tweaking data from the marketing materials.

Mr. May’s model uses the weight of the car and the tension of the springs to calculate how it drives, controlling the car with a joystick.

Specular Theory, which started six months ago, is still in its infancy but has landed Autodesk, which makes three-dimensional design software for a variety of industries, as a client.


he automakers’ move mirrors a trend across the retail industry, as smartphones become widely available and augmented reality evolves to a sales tool from a novelty, said Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA, a retail design and brand strategy firm based in Southfield, Mich.


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“We’re seeing some major moves from retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom,” Mr. Nisch said. “In the next year or 18 months, we’ll see a lot of momentum” in augmented reality used in marketing.

At the root of the interest among automakers is the wish to reach young buyers, who spend a lot of time looking at images of cars online, said Stephen Gandee, vice president for mobile and emerging technologies at Edmunds.com, a car-buying site. Much of the research in buying a car is done online today, and not just among young buyers. But automakers and dealers want to create a deeper connection.

“The emotional side of shopping — you can’t beat pictures,” said Mr. Gandee, who is helping oversee the redesign of Edmunds.com’s Web site to try to capture more of the emotional and visual appeal of the car-buying experience. He said the site expected to have its own augmented reality prototype by next year.

Dealers are trying to change the way they communicate with a generation of car buyers who prize information and speed over the personal connection dealerships offer.

Many younger buyers no longer even test-drive a car before buying it, said Mr. Chung, the general manager of Magic Toyota and Scion. Instead, they read reviews and add features to their vehicle online before going to the dealership with the exact model and price they expect shown on their smartphone.

That is one reason Mr. Chung and other car dealers expect augmented reality to serve as a powerful selling tool in place of a sales associate.

“The consumer is no longer coming in and looking at 10 colors,” Mr. Chung said. “They’ve seen all 10 colors online and know what they want.”

Place IKEA furniture in your home with augmented reality

The 2014 IKEA catalogue gives you the ability to place virtual furniture in your own home with the help of augmented reality. Unlock the feature by scanning selected pages in the 2014 printed IKEA catalogue with the IKEA catalogue application (available for iOS and Android) or by browsing the pages in the digital 2014 IKEA catalogue on your smartphone or tablet. Then simply place the printed IKEA catalogue where you want to put the furniture in your room, choose a product from a selection of the IKEA range and see how it will look in your home!

De la réalité augmentée dans L’Équipe – MacPlus

De la réalité augmentée dans L’Équipe – MacPlus.

À partir d’aujourd’hui, les lecteurs de L’Équipe pourront apprécier leur magazine hebdomadaire et leur quotidien sportif l’iPhone à la main. L’application leur offre en effet une fonction de réalité augmentée baptisée L’Équipe Expérience : il suffit de pointer le smartphone vers des pictogrammes signalés dans les pages du journal et de L’Équipe Magazine. Une fois reconnus par le logiciel, ces pictos laissent la place à du contenu exclusif, notamment des vidéos : coulisses de la rédaction, making-of de la « une », décryptage des photos des pages Zoom.

Dans le quotidien (à partir de lundi), cette même fonction permettront d’accéder aux résumés des matches de Ligue 1. Cette « expérience » est également de la partie pour les smartphones Android. L’app est universelle et gratuite.

Google Glasses Will Be Powered by Android – NYTimes.com

Google Glasses Will Be Powered by Android – NYTimes.com.

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SAN FRANCISCO — It wasn’t so long ago that legions of people began walking the streets, talking to themselves.

Richard Downs

On closer inspection, many of them turned out to be wearing tiny earpieces that connected wirelessly to their smartphones.

What’s next? Perhaps throngs of people in thick-framed sunglasses lurching down the streets, cocking and twisting their heads like extras in a zombie movie.

That’s because later this year, Google is expected to start selling eyeglasses that will project information, entertainment and, this being a Google product, advertisements onto the lenses. The glasses are not being designed to be worn constantly — although Google engineers expect some users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed, with the lenses serving as a kind of see-through computer monitor.

“It will look very strange to onlookers when people are wearing these glasses,” said William Brinkman, graduate director of the computer science and software engineering department at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. “You obviously won’t see what they can from the behind the glasses. As a result, you will see bizarre body language as people duck or dodge around virtual things.”

Mr. Brinkman, whose work focuses on augmented reality or the projection of a layer of information over physical objects, said his students had experimented on their own with virtual games and obstacle courses. “It looks really weird to outsiders when you watch people navigate these spaces,” he said.

They have not seen the Google glasses. Few people have, because they are being built in the Google X offices, a secretive laboratory near Google’s main Mountain View, Calif., campus where engineers and scientists are also working on robots and space elevators.

The glasses will use the same Android software that powers Android smartphones and tablets. Like smartphones and tablets, the glasses will be equipped with GPS and motion sensors. They will also contain a camera and audio inputs and outputs.

Several people who have seen the glasses, but who are not allowed to speak publicly about them, said that the location information was a major feature of the glasses. Through the built-in camera on the glasses, Google will be able to stream images to its rack computers and return augmented reality information to the person wearing them. For instance, a person looking at a landmark could see detailed historical information and comments about it left by friends. If facial recognition software becomes accurate enough, the glasses could remind a wearer of when and how he met the vaguely familiar person standing in front of him at a party. They might also be used for virtual reality games that use the real world as the playground.

People flailing their arms in midair as they play those games is a potentially humorous outcome of the virtual reality glasses. In a more serious vein is the almost certain possibility of privacy issues and ubiquitous advertisements. When someone is meeting a person for the first time, for example, Google could hypothetically match the person’s face and tell people how many friends they share in common on social networks.

This month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research and advocacy group for Internet privacy, asked the Federal Trade Commission to suspend the use of facial recognition software until the government could come up with adequate safeguards and privacy standards to protect citizens.

Mr. Brinkman said he was very excited by the possibilities of the glasses, but acknowledged that the augmented reality glasses could pose some ethical issues.

“In addition to privacy, it’s also going to change real-world advertising, where companies can virtually place ads over other people’s ads,” he said. “I’m really interested in seeing how the government can successfully regulate augmented reality in this sense. They are not really going to know what people are seeing behind those glasses.”

Actualité > La réalité augmentée bientôt au service des voyageurs ?

Actualité > La réalité augmentée bientôt au service des voyageurs ?.

Amadeus, société spécialisée dans les systèmes informatisés de réservation aérienne, a publié une étude qui passe en revue les innovations technologiques pouvant contribuer à améliorer et enrichir l’expérience que vivent les voyageurs.

Dans un aéroport, qui n’a jamais râlé devant une longue file d’attente à l’enregistrement ? Qui n’a jamais eu un petit coup de stress en fixant le tapis roulant en attendant de voir apparaître sa valise ? Qui n’aimerait pas être prévenu à l’avance et assisté si son vol est annulé ou retardé ? Tous ces désagréments, et d’autres encore, participent à ce que les professionnels du secteur appellent le stress du voyageur.

Les technologies peuvent venir à la rescousse, explique la société Amadeus, l’un des leaders mondiaux dans les systèmes informatisés de réservation aérienne.

L’étude réalisée par Amadeus a identifié les principales sources de frustration des voyageurs et les solutions techniques qui pourraient y répondre dans l’avenir.
L’étude réalisée par Amadeus a identifié les principales sources de frustration des voyageurs et les solutions techniques qui pourraient y répondre dans l’avenir. © Amadeus

L’entreprise vient de publier une étude prospective intitulée Du chaos à la collaboration qui explique comment un certain nombre de technologies existantes pourraient être utilisées. L’étude a croisé les avis d’experts dans ces technologies, de sociologues, de spécialistes du comportement, de chercheurs de l’Amadeus Lab et de 1.500 voyageurs répartis dans 7 pays. Elle a fait ressortir plusieurs tendances majeures qui répondent aux attentes des usagers auxquelles les technologies peuvent répondre. En voici un aperçu.

La réalité augmentée au secours du voyageur stressé

« Dans un voyage, l’”expérience” est devenue primordiale désormais », nous a expliqué Isabelle Falque, la directrice marketing d’Amadeus France. À ce titre, la réalité augmentée est amenée à jouer un rôle de premier plan dans l’assistance et l’agrément des voyageurs.

Il pourrait par exemple s’agir de traduire des panneaux d’information dans un aéroport en les visant avec la caméra de son smartphone pour que la traduction s’affiche à l’écran. Ou bien au cours d’une visite, le recours à laréalité augmentée pourrait servir à obtenir des informations culturelles sur un édifice, un lieu, un objet.

Il faudrait aussi prendre au sérieux… l’aspect ludique, l’étude parlant de «gamification » pour qualifier une manière d’apprendre basée sur le jeu. Par exemple, se trouver à Berlin à l’endroit où se tenait le mur et le voir s’afficher sur l’écran de son smartphone en surimpression du décor réel. Ou encore, pointer son terminal vers les ruines du Parthénon pour voir à quoi ressemblait l’édifice dans son état d’origine. « Le smartphone sera le compagnon indispensable du voyageur du futur », explique Isabelle Falque. L’étude souligne également le rôle crucial que jouera le réseau haut débit4G car c’est lui qui permettra le développement de ce type d’applications très consommatrices de données.

Des techniques efficaces… mais attention au respect de la vie privée

« La technologie permettra aux passagers de traverser un aéroport, embarquer dans un avion et pénétrer dans un autre pays sans avoir eu besoin de passer physiquement par un point de contrôle » dit l’étude. Il est question de systèmes automatisés dotés d’une intelligence artificielle, capables de suivre des flots de passagers en ayant recours à lareconnaissance faciale, au scan d’empreintes digitales et à différents types de capteurs disséminés dans l’aéroport. « L’attente pour le check-in est l’un des gros facteurs irritants pour les voyageurs », souligne la directrice marketing d’Amadeus France.

La technologie NFC, les puces RFID, les codes QR pourraient également jouer un rôle dans l’automatisation de l’enregistrement. On peut imaginer par exemple qu’un voyageur muni de son smartphone compatible NFC soit immédiatement reconnu et enregistré sur son vol dès qu’il entre dans l’aéroport et passe près d’une borne de détection. « Il existe déjà beaucoup de technologies de ce type utilisées dans certains aéroports. Ce qu’il faut, c’est une harmonisation et une compatibilité des systèmes entre eux pour créer les conditions d’un enregistrement qui soit totalement transparent. »

Reste un aspect fondamental qui pourrait freiner l’adoption de ces technologies : leur côté intrusif, le respect de la confidentialité et la conservation des données. Uniformiser les technologies pour simplifier l’enregistrement implique la création d’une voire plusieurs bases de données. À qui en confier l’administration ? Comment s’assurer que ces données ne puissent pas être consultées par des tiers marchands ou exploitées à des fins de profilage ? « L’étude fait effectivement ressortir ces préoccupations comme des freins, reconnaît Isabelle Falque. Pour y répondre, on pourrait par exemple imaginer un accès temporaire à ces données qui ne seraient pas conservées au-delà d’un certain délai. »

Un travail collaboratif des voyageurs eux-mêmes

Qu’il s’agisse de réserver son voyage ou d’en préparer le déroulement, la masse d’informations disponibles rend l’entreprise bien souvent fastidieuse. Dans ce domaine, l’avenir reposera de plus en plus sur la curation (sélection par les internautes) de ces contenus hétéroclites pour aider les voyageurs à trouver l’information qui correspond à leurs attentes. Des moteurs de recherche plus « intelligents » seront capables d’agréger l’information de centaines de manières différentes et donneront aux utilisateurs la possibilité d’affiner les résultats émis par des gens ayant les mêmes centres d’intérêt, la même expérience ou le même profil socioprofessionnel. « Quatre-vingt six pour cent des personnes interrogées pour l’étude plébiscitent les guides de voyage qui s’appuient sur les commentaires et les recommandations ». Encore faudra-t-il s’assurer de la qualité de ces recommandations.

L’une des pistes évoquées par l’étude propose un système incitatif que les agences de voyage pourraient mettre en place pour récompenser la qualité d’informations produites par les usagers. Cela pourrait être un classement avec un système de points donnant droit à des avantages ou même une rémunération directe à chaque fois qu’un voyageur transmet une information via son smartphone sur une activité ou un lieu original.

Diminuer les causes de stress

Les principales causes de stress d’un voyageur dans un aéroport sont liées à des problèmes de retard dans les vols et de perte de bagages. Une des solutions au premier problème pourrait être des « billets intelligents » qui pourraient avertir le voyageur d’un retard ou d’un changement, lui proposer le meilleur scénario (correspondance, itinéraire bis, temps de parcours…) ou encore lui permettre de modifier son vol pour une somme raisonnable s’il vient à le rater. Concernant les bagages, la solution pourrait être des étiquettes intelligentes qui indiquent à leur propriétaire où ils se trouvent. «Faire en sorte que tout se passe sans accrocs entre le moment où l’on monte dans le taxi jusqu’à l’arrivée à l’hôtel, voilà à quoi les technologies peuvent servir pour réduire le stress. Nous sommes très proches de tout cela », assure Isabelle Falque.