There is a new term ready to join Augmented Reality as a way of describing mediated reality, the “Outernet,” recently coined by 13th Street Universal, a subsidiarity of NBC Universal in Germany. Outernet (as opposed to internet) is what they are using to describe a recently debuted project, that builds upon traditional filmed movie content by making it immersive and interactive. Basically a mash-up of a movie, scavenger hunt, and a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story, their “film” The Witness forced viewers to become part of the experience, hoping to eventually blur the lines between the reality and the narrative. After signing up online, chosen views went to a hotel room in Berlin, were given a iPhone with a custom app, and proceeded to discover the story. As they watched scenes on the phone that took place in the rooms where they were standing, they were led across the city to new locations, where they had to find clues, and where their decisions changed the outcome of the story. It seems like in addition to augmented content and physical artifacts (such as QR codes), some parts of the narrative involved live actors, increasing the blurring between fact and fiction.
There is already a second round scheduled for which participants can register, so it seems like the experiment was a success, which makes it seem favorable that we will see more projects of this nature.
What is amazing about this is seeing how far and how quickly AR has developed, both in technology and in adoption. When we first started to work with AR here at D-Build, it was still a fringe technology, and now it is being used for marketing campaigns by major brands, and is expected to be everywhere within the next few years. Just a year ago, it was not even possible to run most AR software on the iPhone, and now with the iPhone 4, it has become possible. Now with the release of the iPad 2, many are championing it as the best device for augmented reality, a combination of it fast processor and graphics, light weight, large touchscreen, and dual cameras. It has only been out for a week, and already there are people showing off its AR prowess.
The second video comes from String Labs, the group that recently released the AR SDK for the iPhone, which makes it much easier for developers to add AR to their apps. In the coming months, I expect there will be a flood of iPad AR apps, ranging from novelties to powerful tools for visualizing data, and am excited to see what develops now that there is a platform with the interface and the processing power for AR to excel.