AR Dev Camp Vancouver 2010

Saturday May 29th was the first Vancouver Augmented Reality Developer Camp. Like the AR DevCamps before it, the focus was to be a full day of information sessions, discussions, tutorials, and hacking opportunities in an open format, BarCamp style to which all interested people and organizations are invited. The goal of this event is to build on the momentum of the ardevcamp initiative, with a focus on technology sharing, collaboration, and the portability and integration of information across diverse platforms and AR environments.

Downtown Vancouver was covered with posters promoting the event which was hosted at the office of animation and visual fx studio Digital Alchemy Entertainment, conveniently in the same building as the Vancouver train station. A small and dedicated group of AR developers attended from the area and one couple as far as Portland for a full day of sessions and presentations from:

-Tagwhat - CEO David Elchoness shared with the group Tagwhat, an augmented reality social network. Personally I would call Tagwhat more a mixed reality social network as it allows for users to interact with each and add content via the mobile AR app, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and through the Tagwhat website using a 2D map and standard social network type UI. David gave the group a detailed look at the current features which include adding text, pictures, and hyperlinks, with more features like sound and 3D coming soon. I have been playing around with Tagwhat (my profile) and I have to say its ease of use and simple interface make it a rather fun AR app. I also think it would be a great app for those that want to place points of interest to visit before a vacation so when you arrive, just fire the app up and walk to your own tourist sites. I recommend all to check it out, join up, and get to tagging.

- AR Stack: Why all this Shift Matters - Sid Hubbard, CEO of Technologist Media, founder of several developer groups/hackathons including the ARDevMob, and contributor of open source code to multiple different technology communities, presented (from an airport on a layover) on image tracking technologies and the need for an open source AR stack.
His slide presentation can be seen here and is definitely worth the review.

Sid referenced the work being done by James Alliban (see below) and covered many points about image and pattern recognition. He even grabbed locals in the airport to participate in a pattern recognition demo that would identify people's faces and then superimpose David Hasselhoff's face on top of their own quoting that, "AR will eventually save the world, one Hoff at a time".

-TCHO, the Mixed Reality Factory - Always a great example of how mixed reality can be used for real world applications was the presentation on the work being done by Maribeth Back and her team at FXPAL.

As I have covered in the past, the FX Palo Alto Laboratory in Palo Alto, California (FXPAL) is investigating virtual and mixed-reality systems for collaboration, particularly in industrial settings. In collaboration with TCHO, a chocolate maker start-up in San Francisco, they are building virtual mirror world representations of a real-world chocolate factory and its processes, and importing real-time sensor data into the resulting virtual factory. Maribeth has shared that AR could be used for special candy wrappers and even letting visitors to the factory see inside the machines creating the chocolate.

Attendee presentations:

- Monica Marlo presented on Augmented Reality and Immersive Education - Looking at augmented reality for application in higher education. Monica currently works in virtual spaces and is the coordinator of the Oregon Community College's island in Second Life. I think it best to share snippets of her own notes on her presentation.

"I focus on constructivism and also contemplate connectivist pedagogies when approaching emergent technologies. I am excited about the future of HTML5 and what it may mean for data visualization and interoperability. x3DOM and its app stack is likely a future path toward using 3D visualization in learning spaces tech.

Immersive and engaging learning experiences that align objectives and assessment by doing for competency proof is an over arching goal. Aligning this with personalized learning environments and lifelong learning portfolios so that objectives are found in subject areas that each individual learner finds engaging- allowing as much flexibility as possible for those who have large range of interest fluctuation- believes this is possible, but not currently valued by the technologies we use to perpetuate a "factory" model of education. Products of experience can be tracked to show level of competence and improvement over time- this too is beyond the individualization we currently use, but begin to value.

Augmented reality can help us learn to value failure and its rightful place in learning by helping failure to be seen in a different light. Stuck within our own failures we may become mentally rigid, but with the right feedback we can be encouraged to view our experiences through a different lens. We don't always have a mentor or angel on our shoulder to help us see beyond or own rigidity- technology in a number of ways (community, sage, data interface, etc.) can help us overcome this limitation."
Well said!

Monica had on hand a pair of MXR Corp WizCubes for us to play with. The cubes, with markers on all six sides, allowed us to interact with a story telling application.

- Amanda Healey, a recent grad from Vancouver Film School, presented this video that shows a really neat interactive storybook she created in school that uses elements of augmented reality and Flash. I liked the way she used the markers to trigger a series of different events like games and movies in the the storybook and not just solely for creating digital overlays.

I hope to see more AR Dev Camps with my neighbors to the north and again would like to give many thanks to all our sponsors, presenters, and attendees for contributing to the success of Vancouver's first ARDevCamp.


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