The ratio of smartphones rapidly increased to 37% in 2014
According to a report released in December 2009 by Pyramid Research, the share of smartphones in the global mobile phone market will grow rapidly to 37% in 2014. In the shadow of this rapid expansion of the smartphone market, "Augmented Reality (AR)" is attracting attention as a large market in the future. AR is attracting attention as a technology that allows you to browse content based on location information and share it with other users by superimposing various online information on real objects projected by cameras such as mobile phones and smartphones. I started. Let's take a look at the specific contents of AR technology with potential, business prospects, and future potential, such as new SNS, shop sales, and promotions.
The spread of smartphones drives augmented reality
Figure 1 AR mechanism by pass-through method
Figure 2 AR mechanism by image recognition
By simply touching (or clicking) on the display the "reality" visual displayed on the display through the camera, various information such as text, images, and 3D objects can be superimposed and displayed on the visual, or vice versa. Augmented Reality (AR), which allows users to register information about the location, share it with other users, and exchange messages, is finally beginning to show signs of widespread use.
Augmented reality is simply a technology that "extends" the actual image by superimposing various electronic information on the image projected by the camera. For example, suppose a store installs a "button" for a product that can only be seen on AR. When a user with an AR device visits the place and the store is projected with a camera, the product button is displayed only on the display. Furthermore, when the button is pressed, campaign information that is handled only by AR devices or detailed explanations of actual products are displayed.
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This is not limited to stores, but can be applied as a virtual tour guide for zoos, museums, famous places and historic sites. If you point the camera in front of an animal or an exhibit, a button or icon for guidance will be displayed, and when you select it, commentary using voice, text, photos, etc. will start.
Then, how is this AR technically realized? First, in AR, in order to match the "camera image" with the "real object to be superimposed", some information indicating the "location" is required. There are two ways to do this. One is a pass-through method that uses GPS positioning information and orientation information from an electronic compass (Fig. 1), and the other is image recognition (or camera image) by capturing a specific pattern called an "AR marker" with a camera. It is a method that uses a method of detecting a singular point and recognizing an image without using a marker (Fig. 2).
AR has been researched for a long time, and various AR applications have been created. However, AR does not work with applications alone. You will need devices and real devices such as wireless networks, such as webcams and displays, GPS devices and electronic compasses (geomagnetic sensors). You also need an input device to access and manipulate information that exists in augmented reality.
When AR began to attract attention, it was expected to use a head-mounted display with a camera attached to the glasses, but it was too arrogant to say that it could be used casually. There is also an AR system that uses a notebook PC and a webcam, but it takes time and effort to set the webcam and start the application, so it is not easy to use outdoors.
This situation changed completely with the spread of smartphones. Smartphones have all the functions for practical use of AR, such as high-speed 3G communication functions, GPS, electronic compass, and touch panel display. In particular, the iPhone and Android, which have been the driving force behind the smartphone boom, have been recognized by many developers as powerful AR platforms, and AR applications for various smartphones are being developed one after another.
Current status of AR that has already entered the practical stage
Figure 3a The main screen of the Sekai Camera. Pre-prepared authorized tags and landmark tags are displayed as air tags
Figure 3 b / c The Sekai Camera allows users to post air tags at will, anywhere. The posted air tag can be seen and commented by other Sekai Camera users.
The recent AR boom was ignited by the "Sekai Camera" developed by "Tonchi (Tonchi Dot)" (Fig. 3). Sekai Camera is a pass-through type service that creates a digital information tag called an "air tag" on the actual image projected by the smartphone camera and provides text / image / audio information at that "location". The application is distributed free of charge and there is no usage fee.
Sekai Camera attracted a great deal of attention from all over the world because it incorporates a novel idea of social functions using AR, as well as its practicality. "Authorized tags" and "landmark tags" for stores and public institutions are set on the air tags, but other than that, users can tag anywhere they like.
The content of the tag to be entered does not matter. You can enter text like graffiti on the wall, or tag "This is delicious" in front of a delicious ramen shop. Such tags can also be browsed by other users. In this way, strangers can share information through air tags.
In December 2009, the communication function "Sekai Life" was equipped, such as commenting on tags posted by users and following the users and displaying them on the timeline like Twitter, which is a major social service. Strengthening is being planned. In this way, we have pioneered a completely new genre called AR-SNS and are gaining the support of users.
Of course, Sekai Camera is not the only AR for smartphones. "Layer" by SPRX Mobile of the Netherlands is also a powerful pass-through type AR system (Fig. 4). Layer is not provided as a stand-alone service like Sekai Camera, but as a global AR platform with API disclosure.
The Japanese version of the content is provided by System Kay, which searches hotels, stations, banks, etc., searches based on various data such as restaurants, beauty salons, leaflet information on hot peppers provided by Recruit, and Google. It has a keyword search that supports local search, and a service called "Minna no Layer" that allows you to browse and post tags registered by other users.
In addition, "Neighborhood Navi" that displays the location of local information such as gourmet, convenience stores, and ATMs with tags in conjunction with Google Maps (Fig. 5), and convenience stores and fast food stores in and around Tokyo subway stations. Various applications such as "Tokyo subway" that displays information such as "Tokyo subway" are open to the public. AR is no longer a new technology for some iPhone and Android users, but a practical tool.
On the other hand, AR is becoming a reality in the world of mobile phones. The "real space perspective mobile phone" provided by KDDI is a platform that provides various contents based on the images of mobile phone cameras, GPS, and geomagnetic sensor information.
Currently, it was in the stage of trial service for a limited time (until December 2009) in beta version, but you can browse "Earth Album" that you can map the photos you took, tourist destination information, accommodation information, etc. "Travel viewer" etc. were verified.