by August 1, 2010 0 comments

Imagine, you’re walking down the street for an evening saunter with your
family, you see an ATM outlet on the roadside, and as you direct your mobile
camera towards it, the screen annotates the home loan scheme and credit card
offers from the bank. And then focusing your carl zeiss to a distant hotel drops
the Cuisine of the Day and The Family Platter menu on the screen, giving enough
information on the prices, so that you can have a check at your wallet before
entering the edifice for a grand feast! Possible! While Netherlands experienced
the first AR mobile browsing experience in the world last year, the first Indian
city to join the list is Pune. What is the technology behind? Is it augmented,
or reality, or both? Let’s explore.

What is it & how it works?
Augmented Reality, a subset of Mixed Reality, adds virtual information to a
predominantly real image/representation of the world in order to enhance, or
augment, the information the user receives. Augmented reality demesnes beyond
the domains of sight and sound and well immerses into haptic sciences. At an
application layer level, the trilogy comprises of a global positioning system
(GPS) for locating the co-ordinates by the triangulation method, a
tilt-compensated digital compass for direction and a tri-axial accelerometer to
determine orientation.When the lens of the camera is focused in a particular
direction, the image stream captured by the camera is layered with graphics and
texts, annotating the user’s surroundings. The locations in the frame get
associated with virtual objects consisting of URLs which, in a way, hyperlink
the real world to the respective associated data which can be streamed from the

What does it incorporate?
The MARS architecture essentially incorporates a GPS-GPRS enabled mobile
device, the application (browser) server and content providers (remote servers).
When the user launches the application, the camera gets activated. After the
current positional coordinates of the user are located via GPS and
accelerometer, the application server  fetches data from content rich remote
servers and web services, which return files that are coalesced and cropped to
fetch the desired Point of Interests(POIs). The mobile device layers this file
as selected by the user over the captured vision to provide the user with the
desired information.

Architecture of  Mobile Augmented Reality Systems (MARS)


The application (Ford Figo in our case) gets downloaded and
installed in your mobile apps folder.
On launching the application, the camera mode gets activated

While browsers like Layar and Junaio serve the IPhone and Android markets,
currently, WIKITUDE World Browser facilitates the Symbian mobiles users also.

MARS in India!
In April, 2010, MARS landed in Pune, in the form of PUNE Layar, making it
the first city to experience the significant geographical coverage potential of
augmented reality, on the Indian terrain. Developed by Upside Learning
Solutions, Pune, the POIs are linked to respective Wikipedia pages and other
related websites enabling the high end smartphone users to access information
and even directions to restaurants, buildings and other landmarks using Google
maps. The otherwise gratuitous application just costs the data charges that
apply as per the service provider to download and use the application.

With still a minimal 3G and GPS mobile market in India, TELiBrahma,a leading
mobile solution company, headquartered in Bangalore, aims at bringing MARS to
masses by deploying intARact applications through over 600+ Blu-Fi zones
nationwide(shopping malls, Baristas, Cafe Coffee Days in major cities and
metros) controlled centrally and targeting the non-GPS mobile market working on
Symbian and and even Java platforms.

From a developer’s perspective, what are the special features
incorporated in the Pune Layar ?

Pune Layar has some unique features as below:

  • We have made it truly crowd sourced layer where any
    user can add POIs by visiting this page from desktop or mobile device.

  • It also allows you to rate POIs depending on your
    liking or just view the ratings given by others.

Amar Jadhav, Senior Technical Manager, Upside
Learning Solutions, Pune

We got in touch with Manoj Panedka, Business Head, TELiBrahma Convergent
Communications, Gurgaon, to have a têch-à-tête.

We took a Nokia E72 and installed the application from a notebook using
bluetooth as provided by TELiBrahma. This application installation prompt is
what you will get in BluFi enabled zones through BluFi terminals. See the
screenshots  showing how the solution worked.

MARS Global Demesne
Geographically, Chris O’Shea and BBC Big Screen, Liverpool; Simon & John and
Hugo Boss’ Store, London; Tony Stark and LG Ally Android Mobile Phone, US; FIFA
and Sony Ericsson Communication, Hong Kong; and recently Wimbledon 2010 and IBM
Seer, Wimbledon: augmented reality has spanned across latitudes and longitudes
at some point of time or the other. In India, Samsung Galaxy S mobile, launched 
a few weeks back, comes with a built-in LAYAR browser. On the technology front,
the addition of Geographical Information System (GIS) to the application layer
trilogy is bound to map the contours of MARS to even higher peaks. The latest
concept of Urban Augmented Reality (UAR)  provides features like 3D view of an
alternate proposed design of the already existing architecture marvel. While
Rotterdam is the first city in the world in UAR, Netherlands is soon to follow
till 2011.On the application front, IBM has recently come up with Seer(from its
predecessor beta version 2009), an application for IPhone3Gs, IPhone4 and
Android smart-phones. The launch of WIKIDRIVE, first amongst the global AR
navigation system will be another major landmark. The ARML(Augmented Reality
Markup Language) and KML(Keyhole Markup Language) can build applications to
fetch information to the level of phone numbers and addresses.

Is the Indian market ripe for MARS? Where do you see MARS in next 5

will be omniscient as a technology in five years. At this time, the Indian
market is still focused around economical devices. Over time, we will see a
large number of users migrate to smartphone platforms. This will happen as
smartphones become cheaper and 3G rollouts (in India) make fast data access
viable. It’s very difficult to predict when this might happen. It’s
interesting to see mobile manufacturers rolling out devices with MARS
applications such as built-in Layar.

Amit Garg, Founder & Director — Content
Solutions, Upside Learning Solutions, Pune


Business Solutions and Benefit Portfolio
As per Juniper Research report, it is predicted that annual revenues from
mobile AR applications is estimated to reach $732 million, up from less than $1
million in 2009. The mobile software and application developers and gaming
console developers are banking on MARS to be the technology that might turn out
to be the new endorser for digital economy.

Focus on QR (quick response) code on the wallpaper. After detecting the code, the application hyperlinks to the
Ford Figo promo video

QualComm has recently launched a mobile augmented reality platform and also
released a software development kit(SDK) for app creators.With the technology
advancing from code recognition to object recognition and now to face
recognition, the applications across business verticals is expanding. Say, an
FMCG company can utilize the technology for fraud management and CRM by
incorporating a QR code logo on the products. While it can attract customers
with offers and feedback links, it can actually clock the customer response to
offers and simultaneously keep a check on genuine products being circulated in
the market. “Tryvertising” is a fresh concept for e-shopping where potential
customers can try a product online before e-swiping their credit cards.
Similarly, job websites, e-ticketing, and e-marketing applications, etc are
amongst the numerous domains which can benefit from MARS technology.

The MARS Technology Market
Rated amongst the top 10 disruptive technologies for 2008-2012 by Gartner,
Inc., augmented reality comes at par with technologies like cloud computing,
virtualization computing and ubiquitous computing for the coming years.

But, of course, MARS, being just one of the varied areas of application of
augmented reality; it has its own share of challenges.A point worth taking into
account here is that though the technology has matured to provide substantially
accurate results but then how far it succeeds and how long does it take to reach
a point that makes it a technology for the masses, is something the augmented
world is still waiting.

Gurjot S. Sachdeva

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