Thursday, 17 May 2012

Aurasma visit for Augmented Reality




Would you like your brochure or banner to come alive like the animated newspapers, paintings and posters in the Harry Potter films? It is a prospect that has generated a flurry of interest at the Huntingdonshire Business Network, ever since Mervyn Foster demonstrated the effect first to networkers using a £10 note and the Aurasma Lite app on his mobile phone.

Since then, I have delved deeper and begun to successfully create not only my own “Auras” as these animations are called, but several for HBNers. As with any new idea, more questions are generated than answered at first, so I organised the HBN outing to visit Aurasma’s offices in London. Our delegation comprised:

  • Dr Chris Thomas (Milton Contact Ltd) - creative visual applications & international business support
  • Gareth Howell (Business Continuity) – Strategic Company & Project Planning
  • Mervyn Foster (HBN Chairperson, Nordic Walking Cambridgeshire) – Business networking
  • Richard Wishart (Delivery Management) – International postal and logistic tracking technologies

Our host at Aurasma was Jake Grave, Sales & Marketing. The genteel surroundings of the offices in St James’ Square provided a counterpoint to the deceptively simple, visual technology of Aurasma’s Auras.

The technology is deceptively simple in principle, requiring four things:

  1. A trigger image that will be present in print form
  2. An overlay. This is a video is designed fit over part or all of the trigger image
  3. A smart phone. Currently i-phones and Android based phones can be used, though the latter appear to have more limited functionality.
  4. The Aurasma Lite app, available from www.aurasma.com, iphone and play store

The designer uses Aurasma hosted software to link the trigger image with the overlay video to create an Aura. Auras are managed in “channels”.

The user downloads the Aurasma Lite app onto their smartphone. Once the app is opened, the user can immediately use the smartphone to view so-called “Super Auras”. Super Auras are demonstration projects, often with large organisations – such as Top Gear magazine and several bank notes. You can test the Aurasma Lite using images at  http://www.aurasma.com/auras

Note: some of these will only work in certain countries – so look out for your country’s flag in the corner of each image. This is what happens on my phone – see video at top of page.

Currently Aurasma decides which Auras will be Super Auras.

For most other Auras, the user will need to search for and subscribe to (free) a channel containing Auras from a particular source. For example, I created the channels Milton Contact, HBN Huntingdonshire Business Network and Delivery Management. You can try out some of the images here (stop the slideshow at a convenient image:



Smartphone users can themselves generate Auras on their phones. These can be shared by sending friends a link. Mervyn was the first to generate an Aura in this way at HBN.

We had wide ranging discussions with Jake, about Aurasma’s strategy, what sort of marketing models and applications that we could envisage and how HBN and Aurasma could help each other. The ability to generate your own app incorporating Aurasma function and/or skinning the app (branding it as your own) gave us moe food for thought.

We left Aurasma brimming with ideas. To round off the day, three of us continued to the Natural History Museum to visit the “Animal Inside Out” exhibition.

Perhaps ironic that we had gone from looking at taking static images and bringing them to life – to go to an exhibition where formerly living organisms had been transformed into static (but equally wonderful) exhibits. We should state that no creature was deliberately harmed for the process.

If you want to know more about HBN and how we are looking at taking Auras further, come and join us. If you would like help in the creation of your own company or personal Aura – get in touch with me, Chris.

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