Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mobile Monday at ETH about camera phone apps

Mobile monday [1] has happened for the first time at ETH. The running topic was camera phones used for richer real world experience.

Juha Laurila from Nokia Research Lausanne started off with Nokia point and find [2] representing a compeling infrastructure for authoring travel guides and navigation services based on recognition of places by the user's camera-phone. Another, even more compelling project for me, was Nokia Image Space [3] which aims at sharing photos taken from Nokia phones together with their spatial relationship. That means besides the photo's location also the angle of the photograph is incorporated through the phones accelerometer and magnetometer. Accordingly, a 3D-representation can be calculated by overlaying various pictures from different angles - there is a nice video here. For me this is another nice example of user-generated content: instead of google-cars crawling around the world and taking pictures, Nokia users could do that for free...

Daniel Wagner was showing a couple of augmented reality "applications" - overlaying the real world seen from a phone's camera with items, animals, markers etc. While the shown examples did not really contain useful applications they gave great perspectives about what could be done in terms of embedding information on items and objects in the real world in a more compelling way than just text. They showed some demos were they really could overlay pictures with 3D images shown on the phone without using markers (e.g. see here).

While augmented reality appears to be a fascinating research topic, I'm still wondering what it will look like when in fufutre people will not only have blinking bluetooth ears but also tap through the world using their mobile phone as a white cane for "added-value information"...

Herbert Bay from Kooaba [4], an ETH-based spin-off, presented their approach of having visual search implemented on the iphone: you take a photo, send an MMS to their server, and out of 1 million objects so far you can receive further information.

Roger Fischer from Kaywa [5] presented 2D barcode applications. He explained the differences between Japan, where NTT Docomo has years ago moved forward and forced the other Japanese operators to follow spreading 2D barcode applications, whereas Europe still fights with a plethora of various barcode standards.

Mindaugas Stonys from Convision talked about smart camera applications based on the bee-tag 2d barcode standard. A nice feature of beetag is that you can place a logo inside the code. He proudly mentioned that their reader software runs on 11 platforms.

Finally, there was a 30s pitch about a start-up [5] empowering consumers to distinguish between orginal and faked products by using their mobile phones - an idea we've published about as well [6].

The mobile monday organizers had been so nice to put together a video playlist of compelling videos on youtube.

[6] F. von Reischach, F. Michahelles, E. Fleisch: Anti-Counterfeiting 2.0 - A Consumer-Driven Approach towards Product Authentication , Late Breaking Results at the 9th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp 2007), Austria, September 2007, [PDF].

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