Posted tagged ‘video’

The two types of augmented reality

20 July 2010

My favourite example of augmented reality is now a couple of years old:

While it might not be as flash as the xkcd enthusiasts might demand from this emerging technology, it remains practical and – gasp! – useful in the workplace.

And in one way at least, it is similar to this other famous example:

In both cases, artificial imagery is layered over the real world.

In the BMW example, the real world is on the other side of his glasses. In the Layar example, the real world is on the other side of his (or her?) smartphone.

Compare that with the wicked promo GE did for its Smart Grid:

Ryan watches the plane fly in The Sunday Telegraph's Night at the Museum 2 promo.I tried a similar thing at home when my local newspaper promoted Night At The Museum 2. I put the paper up to my webcam, and like magic a dinosaur skeleton came to life, a giant squid flailed its tentacles, and an aeroplane buzzed around my head.

But are these two latter examples really augmented reality?

By projecting both the digital imagery and the real background onto a computer screen, I would argue they are not actually augmenting reality. Instead, they are augmenting a representation of reality.

It’s just like adding cartoons to a movie set like they did in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, using CGI like they did in Star Wars, or even scribbling a moustache and devil horns onto someone’s photo.

Bob Hoskins & Jessica Rabbit, Jar Jar Binks, and a mistreated basketball coach.

In all these examples, the background isn’t real. It’s film, or light, or paper. In other words, a copy of reality.

Rewind

This insight was genius – at least in my own mind – until I realised that a smartphone doesn’t actually show reality on the other side of itself as do goggles or the viewfinder of an old camera. Instead, the device digitises the image and represents it as pixels on the screen, like a modern camera.

With that in mind, the Layar example is closer to the GE example than it is to the BMW example. Damn!

This was bugging me, and after a period of reflection I think I’ve identified why.

New criteria

To me, the exciting emergent form of augmented reality has the following characteristics…

1. It adopts the user’s personal POV.

When a webcam captures reality and projects it onto a computer screen, it’s not real in the sense that you don’t look at the background in that way (unless you constantly carry a mirror around with you).

A smartphone similarly projects the background onto its screen, but because you are mobile and pointing the device in front of you, it is for all intents and purposes real.

2. It is live.

We don’t live our lives by watching a recording of it. We live it here and now.

Reality is in real-time.

The two types

In light of the above criteria, I recognise two types of augmented reality:

  • Type I Augmented Reality (AR1), whereby the artificial imagery is layered over the background from the personal POV in real-time;

    and

  • Type II Augmented Reality (AR2), whereby the artificial imagery is layered over the background from an impersonal POV or not in real-time.

So this is an example of AR2

…because while the background is certainly real and the POV is personal, it’s not in real-time. It’s a recording.

Compare it to this example of AR1:

So what?

I know I’m being really pedantic, but for workplace learning purposes, it helps to be clear on what we’re talking about.

I think Type I Augmented Reality has amazing untapped potential because we see our workplace from our personal POV in real-time.

Type II Augmented Reality certainly has fantastic uses, but Type I is so much more authentic.

I’m sure we’ll see more AR2, and I hope we do.

However, I’m really looking forward to more AR1!

Green e-learning

19 May 2010

I launched a new vlog today called Greenwise.

It’s tag line is: Bite-sized chunks of environmental knowledge.

Greenwise

Why?

I’ve always admired the power of pictures to deliver extensive information concisely, and in this respect a 2-3 minute animation is the perfect medium.

It’s short and sharp, fun and engaging.

So it strikes me as odd that so few environmental organisations have embraced it.

It’s not easy being green

In terms of e-learning, I feel the green sector is not doing enough.

Sure, plenty of environmental organisations have a Facebook page, and some are even active on Twitter, but most of this activity is limited to echoing news or banal self-promotion.

I contend there is huge scope (some might say obligation) for these organisations to educate the public on the issues they hold so dear.

Enter green e-learning

It’s time for the green sector to trade propaganda for education, and I suggest the most efficient way of doing that is via e-learning.

In this age of Flash and Flickr, WordPress and Wikipedia, it’s never been so easy.

Green mouse

For example, with the help of a couple of talented friends, I produced a 2‑minute animation that explains the principles of global warming.

It’s a resource that I hope teachers will show in class, and L&D professionals will show in their workplaces.

But more importantly, I hope it will inspire environmental organisations to teach rather than flog.

Noise pollution

18 December 2009

COP15 was a fiasco.

At the eleventh hour, the world’s governments cobbled together a half‑baked “accord”, after 2 weeks of posturing, grandstanding and generally faffing about.

Why bother? At the next summit, they’ll realise they’ve got no hope of meeting the target, however vague, so they’ll try to weasel out of the agreement just like they weaseled out of Kyoto.

The fact is: Governments can’t govern very well. All they really can do is tax. And do we want a bunch of taxmen managing our environment?

No – I see real environmental management in the hands of corporations and individuals.

Business man holding the EarthCorporate citizenship

These days, every company has an environmental policy.

However, it’s just a collection of words.

To be a good corporate citizen, the firm must use that policy to inform action.

And that’s typically where the wheels fall off.

Education is the key

The foundation of corporate citizenship is education. If the L&D team (and others) aren’t active in this space, then there’s a disconnect between what the company allegedly stands for and what it manifestly stands for.

I happen to believe that the company I work for is indeed a good corporate citizen.

For example, today we screened The Burning Season in-house, which we followed up with a talk by the protagonist, Dorjee Sun – CEO of Carbon Conservation.

The Burning Season Ryan Tracey with top bloke, Dorjee Sun.

Regardless of your political and philosophical views of climate change, I’m sure we all agree that the relentless destruction of Indonesia’s rainforest is an unmitigated disaster.

Achmadi the farmer

Given the socio-economic dimensions of the problem, the Indonesian government is simply incapable of governing it.

Action makes the difference

Now that my colleagues and I have watched the film, we’ve heard Dorjee talk and our awareness has been raised a few thousand notches, what can we actually do about it?

For a start, I suggest we ignore the Copenhagen Clowns.

As a financial services company, something we already do is offer Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) options to our customers. These options typically embargo investments in the likes of arms dealers and tobacco manufacturers; dare I suggest that palm oilers should also be on the blacklist?

It’s also important to keep in mind that a corporation is a collection of individuals. Not only could we select SRI options in our own investment plans, but we could make the personal decision to donate to a relevant charity. In this case we chose Borneo Orangutan Survival, and the corporation dollar-matched our individual contributions.

I’m sure there’s hundreds of other things we could do, both as corporations and as individuals. And yet more could be done in other industry sectors. All we need is some imagination.

The thin green line

In essence, corporate citizenship is a political concept. So we must be wary of straying into partisanship.

For example, I would be uncomfortable with screening Obama’s speeches as an L&D activity. (If you disagree, how would you feel if I screened Bush’s speeches instead?)

The Earth with a stethoscopeNone-the-less, corporate citizenship transcends partisanship. The world has plenty of massive problems that we all acknowledge, regardless of our political persuasions.

As L&D professionals in socially responsible corporations, we arguably have a duty to raise our colleagues’ awareness of the issues that matter, then translate that knowledge into something practical.

In doing so, we must avoid ATNA at all costs.

Otherwise it’s just noise pollution.