Visuals are an important part of advertising, so it’s not surprising that so many companies have jumped on the augmented reality bandwagon, offering tools that visualize their products in a magical and memorable way.
Here we take a look at some pretty amazing promotional uses of this new tech that work with common webcams, giving everyone a chance to experience augmented reality — a trend that will be big in 2010.
This BMW interpretation ties in with a TV ad that sees artist Robin Rhode using the Z4 as a giant paintbrush (think big-scale finger-painting with the car’s tyres). Downloading the software, printing out the 3D symbol and holding it up to your webcam will allow you to see your own miniature Z4 on your screen, which you can then drive around using keyboard commands, creating your own Rhode-esque car painting.
Taking the trading card into the 21st century, the Topps “3D LIVE” range offers baseball (and now also football) stars that leap from the special cards onto your desk, as viewed via webcam. As well as creating miniature holographic representations of the players — a neat enough trick that would impress most kids — the concept is taken a step further with the angle that you can control the player’s signature moves via your keyboard.
As well as augmented reality, this example uses clever face-tracking technology to stick the original 3D CGI head of Optimus Prime atop your own visage. The campaign to promote “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” also includes a hidden holographic message from Bumblebee, again developed using the original 3D model of the robot that appeared in the movie, suggesting CGI films may be ripe for more AR apps in the future.
What we like about Doritos’ take on the tech for the Brazilian market is that the webcam code is printed on the back of the chip packet, adding value to something normally disposable. Perhaps this also means less chip bags littering the streets. Holding up the code on the Sweet Chilli chips packets initiates the appearance of a little cartoon character, which can then be used in an extended online game.
Erring on the functional side of promotion, the USPS Priority Mail Virtual Box Simulator is a wickedly clever use of the tech that lets users compare the size of an item they need sent to the size of boxes available from the postal service, by seeing how well their item fits inside a transparent box. Although not particularly high octane excitement, it does illustrate the practical use of AR which is yet to be fully explored.
These kind of applications work particularly well with a techie audience, or in this instance a Trekkie one. The front cover of certain versions of the Star Trek movie on DVD and Blu ()-ray doubles as a webcam code to initiate the “cadet orientation” program. It offers a holographic tour around the USS Enterprise (that appears as a hovering apparition on your screen), incorporating a look at the bridge, and best of all, a trigger to fire the ship’s weapons, complete with sound effects.
Created for the launch of Wrigley’s “5″ chewing gum in France (although the site is also available in English) this interactive example of AR sees five symbols (each representing one of the five gum flavors) becoming a different track that only plays when the webcam can “see” it. The desktop DJ experience is probably best explained by watching the demo video above, populated appropriately by masticating teens.
Although many items of apparel can be bought online, sunglasses are one of those tricky products that you really need to try on to ensure you look more chic than geek. Ray-Ban’s Virtual Mirror (ably demonstrated here by YouTuber NickHearne) lets you virtually try on glasses (after a quick bit of face-mapping). The software lets you move your head around to see how the shades look from different angles. Depending on the opacity of the glass, you can even see your eyes through some of the shades. Seeing this app in action makes us think this could be where the real commercial future of AR lies.
John Mayer, Eminem and Julian Perretta are three other musicians that have dabbled with AR as a way of making their music videos more compelling, but this effort from the Lost Valentinos — with each printable code representing a member of the band to be arranged as you see fit — is a great example of how to keep it tight. In addition, the band’s site doubles as a video gallery for fans to share how they interacted with the AR by uploaded webcam video clips.
This time round we’ve saved the worst for last. How best to promote feminine hygiene products? With an augmented reality white bunny of course. We think the world can do without this irrelevant foray into the AR arena that assumes a female audience will be blown away by an incredibly basic application of the tech.
Microsoft Tags Paper?
Microsoft tags have started showing up in magazines and newspapers. Tags can also be placed on business cards, products, and even large outdoor signs.
“It’s the hyperlink in the physical world,” said Marja Koopmans, marketing leader for Microsoft’s start-up accelerator unit.
Tags can link to anything from a Web page to an online brochure or electronic business card (see video below). Golf Digest magazine, for example, uses tags to link directly to YouTube videos that can be viewed on an iPhone or other smartphone. That allows the magazine to, essentially, include not just how-to articles, but also instructional videos within its publication.
To be able to “read” tags with your phone, you need to download a piece of software; luckily enough, Microsoft has supported most modern smartphone operating systems, including several varieties of Symbian, the iPhone OS, Android, BlackBerry and others.
Check out CNET’s video about Tag below.
It’s substantial but surprisingly light. Easy to grip. Beautiful. Rigid. Starkly designed. The glass is a little rubbery but it could be my sweaty hands. And it’s fasssstttt.
Apple didn’t really sell this point, but it’s the single biggest benefit of the iPad: speed. It feels at least a generation faster than the iPhone 3GS. Lags and waits are gone, and the OS and apps respond just as quickly as you’d hope. Rotating between portrait and landscape modes, especially, is where this new horsepower manifests in the OS.
Imagine, if you will, a super light unibody MacBook Pro that’s smaller, thinner and way, way, way lighter. Or, from a slightly different perspective, think about a bigger iPhone that’s been built with unibody construction. The iPad really does feel like some amalgamation of these two product lines from Apple. And, in the hands, it feels great—not too heavy at all.
The screen looked nice, and it’s able to display even small text crisply. Touch responds like a dream.
But one point of the build seems odd. It’s the Home button. In portrait mode, hitting the Home button is far less natural than on an iPhone because your thumbs naturally rest in the middle of each side of the case (not the bottom). A Kindle-like side Home button may not have been a horrible idea, even if it broke up the stoic minimalism of the case a bit.
It’s an optical illusion, but just seeing the depth of pages makes the iBook app feel more like a book than a Kindle ever did for me. The text is sharp, and while the screen is bright, it doesn’t seem to strains the eyes—but time will tell on that.
Typing in portrait is better than anticipated but still a BIT of a stretch for our average-sized hands, which means that letters like F G and H will take a moderate conditioning for some.
Pinch, zoom, whatever—like we said, it’s fast—the photo app is faster than iPhoto performs on an aging Core2Duo laptop.
Apps can play in their native resolution, or be 2x uprezzed for the screen. How does it look? An ATV game we tried actually looked pretty good—limited more by its base polygon count than the scaling process itself. Bottom line: it’s about as elegant solution as Apple could have offered, even if that graphics won’t be razor sharp.
Over Wi-Fi, Gizmodo loaded quickly. The 9.7-inch screen is an excellent size for reading the site. You can pinch zoom, but you won’t need to. Of course, on such a pretty web browsing experience, not having Flash makes the big, empty video boxes in the middle of a page is pretty disappointing. Put differently, the fatal flaw of Apple’s mobile browser has never been more apparent.
Overheard: Steve Jobs Says Apple Tablet “Will Be The Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Done.”
TechCrunch reported that Steve Jobs is talking about the new Apple Tablet as his pride and joy. We have never heard this kind of excitement come from Steve before, but it reminds me of Bill Gates when he said the same thing 7 years ago when talking about the PC tablet. It looks like this time everyone has finally caught up with the technology and is ready for the tablet technology. Back when Bill Gates was talking about his PC Tablet the iPhone was not even a concept.
With every major technology company talking about mobile being the way of the future it makes you wonder how integrated the Apple Tablet is going to be. If anyone has sneak peak – please let me know.
Mobile Phone Monitoring
Taser is the company best known for the device that allows a user piece of mind with a self-defense device that allows you to ZAP a person with thousands of volts of electricity. Taser has just announced a new Mobile Phone Monitoring tool. This dashboard allows you to login and see what is going on with the particular phone that you are monitoring and has been designed specifically for parents. You can see everything from the exact location of your child (wherever the mobile device is), this uses the built in GPS device that most mobile phones and almost all Smart Phones have built in.
You may also setup alerts for example when the child exceeds 80 mph (again this uses the GPS portion of your Smart Phone. And what would this device be without the built in “Emergency Feature” whic happens to be my favorite feature of this technology. It allows authorities to locate the EXACT location of the mobile phone (which in most cases should be with the child in the even of a missing child, or other emergencies).
Through the dashboard the authorized user can monitor all the calls that are made or received and how long each call is, in addition the authorized dashboard user can block calls or force certain calls to always ring. Great Job Taser!!
Economically the piece of mind that you get for signing up is well worth it, at a price point of $10-$30 per month.
Google phone accepts credit cards with credit card swiper
One of the lead engineers for the Google Android Operating System has changed jobs and is now working for a leading edge company that is able to utilize the functionality of the Google Android Operating System to accept credit cards with an awesome gadget / add-on credit card swiper called a “Square”. Square inc has an awesome physical product (the square), but it is the software foundation that caught my attention. The software that runs the square has the ability to integrate photo verification, text or email receipts, manage all your coupon, and gift cards like a Starbucks punch card. @square – I am impressed with this device and also the functionality of the software that runs this. If you get a chance to use this I would recommend it, and I would love to hear your review on the square mobile device for credit card swiping. Let me know
The square device plugs in directly to the audio jack on most smart phones, the device is primarily focused towards Backberry, iPhone, and Android Phones at this time.
Square is backed by Khosla Ventures and a team of angels. Square, Inc. has offices in San Francisco (Product & Engineering), Saint Louis (Operations), and New York City (Risk & Partnerships).
Google Voice gives you one phone number for all your phones, voice-mail as easy as email, and many calling features for free.
It’s a great new service that Google is offering. Basically Google will assign you a number and you get to choose what phone it will ring on. For example: If your family calls you can have it ring on all your phones including your work number, and if your ex-girlfriend calls you; then you can send it directly to voice-mail. It’s best described as a switchboard that allows you to re-route all calls that come in to your Google number to any other number or directly to an online Google answering machine. You may listen to your messages from any phone or computer (granted that its connected to the internet).
Amazon Store WordPress Plugin
WordPress Plugin for your website that lets you have a complete Amazon Store
Up until now the only Amazon Store Plugin for WordPress has been a crappy snippet of I don’t know… All I know is that it sucked and looked bad, and didn’t include a cart, and ooohhh that’s right they called themselves a Amazon Niche Store but it doesn’t have a shopping cart. To me that makes the other plugin is ‘NOT a Amazon Niche STORE‘. Im trying to lay the sarcasm & frustration on very thick because I have been looking for a solution like this for years. But it looks like my wait has finally paid off. Now you can have a completely functioning WordPress Niche Store without much effort at all. And since it uses Amazon’s API it automates the entire plugin once it is setup. And of course since it is a plugin it can work with any template. And if that wasn’t enough it also includes a default template if you don’t want to take the time to find one or use your current WordPress template.
This is the real Deal – not a cheap wanna-be Fake Amazon Niche Store. But as it goes I can only tell you that it is here & I will be posting a link within a few days, so be patient with me as I test this thing out to the max.
Amazon Store WordPress Plugin
Link will be posted in a few days.
WordPress Amazon Store
OpenX Ad Server Hacked in Adobe Attack
Hackers have exploited flaws in a popular open-source advertising software to place malicious code on advertisements on several popular Web sites over the past week.
The attackers are taking advantage of a pair of bugs in the OpenX advertising software to login to advertising servers and then place malicious code on ads being served on the sites. On Monday, cartoon syndicator King Features said that it had been hacked last week, because of the OpenX bugs. The company’s Comics Kingdom product, which delivers comics and ads to about 50 Web sites, was affected.
After being notified of the problem Thursday morning, King Features determined that “through a security exploit in the ad server application, hackers had injected a malicious code into our ad database,” the company said in a note posted to its Web site. King Features said that the malicious code used a new, unpatched Adobe attack to install malicious software on victims’ computers, but that could not immediately be verified.
Another OpenX user, the Ain’t It Cool News Web site was reportedly hit with a similar attack last week.
Web based attacks are a favorite way for cyber-criminals to install their malicious software and this latest round of hacks shows how ad server networks can become useful conduits for attack. In September, scammers placed malicious software on The New York Times’ Web site by posing as legitimate ad buyers.
This same technique that worked on King Features and Ain’t It Cool News was used to hack into at least two other Web sites last week, according to one OpenX administrator who spoke on condition of anonymity, because he wasn’t authorized to speak with the press.
Attackers used one attack to get login rights to his server, and then uploaded a maliciously encoded image that contained a PHP script hidden inside it, he said. By viewing the image, attackers forced the script to execute on the server. It then attached a snippet of HTML code to every ad on the server. Known as an iFrame, this invisible HTML object then redirected visitors to a Web site in China that downloaded the Adobe attack code.
OpenX said that it was aware of “no major vulnerabilities associated with the current version of the software 2.8.2; in either its downloaded or hosted forms,” in an e-mailed statement.
At least one OpenX user believes that the current version of the product may be vulnerable to part of this attack, however. In a forum post, a user said that he was hacked while running an older version of the software, but that the current (2.8.2) version is also vulnerable. “If you are running a current, unmodified release of OpenX, it is possible to anonymously log in to the admin site and gain administrator-level control of the system,” he wrote.
More details on the OpenX hack can be found here.
When researchers at Praetorian Security Group looked at the Adobe attack, it did not leverage the unpatched Adobe bug, said Daniel Kennedy, a partner with the security consultancy. Instead, the attack marshalled an assortment of three different Adobe exploits, he said. “We’re seeing no evidence that it’s the 0day that will be patched by Adobe in January.”
Security experts say that the Adobe flaw has not been widely used in online attacks, even though it has been publicly disclosed. On Monday, Symantec said it had received less than 100 reports of the attack.
Robert McMillan, IDG News Service – http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20091223/tc_pcworld/hackershitopenxadserverinadobeattack
According to http://www.openx.org/about/history the company history is says OpenX is a new company built on old traditions.
The OpenX ad server has been developed over the past 9 years by a passionate open source developer community.
Tobias Ratschiller, who also created the popular phpMyAdmin, started the project by releasing phpAds in 1998.
Since then our software has been called phpAds, phpAdsNew, MaxMediaManager and Openads.
Over the years the application has been dramatically extended and expanded to become the sophisticated ad management system you know today.
1998 – Tobias Ratschiller creates phpAds
1999 – Wim Godden, with contributions from Phil Hord and Niels Leenheer, create phpAdsNew
2003 – Scott Switzer creates MaxMediaManager by building on the phpAdsNew codebase
2006 – Openads launches
2007 – Openads releases Openads 2.4 and announces $5.5m in first round funding
2008 – Openads changes its name to OpenX and announces $15.5m in second round funding
In 2006 Openads was launched with a focus of providing web publishers from around the world with tools to make the most from online advertising. The company announced venture funding in 2007 and made the first release of Openads 2.4, making it accessible to the phpAdsNew user base as a simple upgrade.
Today OpenX continues to develop the OpenX ad server and other services to help web publishers make more money from online advertising.
Google introduces Sidewiki
Google has finally introduced the sidewiki, its a very interesting way of allowing users to add information about any page and any website. To see the Google Sidewiki you need to download the latest toolbar for your compatible internet browser (I use Firefox). Then you just click on the button called Sidewiki and it will give you a left navigation that allows you to add your comments about any site, and even more specifically any page). Sidewiki is sure to bring a lawsuit as soon as shady companies, or larger companies get bad comments posted. Im curious how well this new service is going to work. In theory it is an amazing idea and it allows Google to take in all the information and use it to make for a true human driven search engine based on quality. This mixed with Link Building and the other several hundred thousand pieces to the Google algorithm makes for a really great data provided to Google who can then ultimately use it to better the search results.