With the recent news about Google Goggles and the revelation that Oakley are doing something similar, augmented reality is starting to breakthrough from the realms of technical research into mainstream technology. With the possibility that the Sci-Fi movies of yesterday are getting closer and closer to today, Aurasma looks to make a small step into the iOS market that could mean one giant leap for augmented reality.
What Is Aurasma?
The premise of Aurasma is fairly simple. Using the camera on your iPad, when you scan over a trigger image it will overlay some predetermined content (called an Aura) over the top of that image. The content it can display could be anything from another image, a video, 3D object or even a game.
Aurasma Lite is a standalone version of this reading software. Aurasma are offering out their version of the software so that other parties can integrate the ability to pick up auras in their own applications. A perfect example would be The Gadget Show app. Aurasma had a stand at the UK gadget show and also did a number of presentations about their software so in partnership with The Gadget Show an app was released with a version of the software integrated.
Design & Interface
Aurasma clearly are aware that in this industry the content created is going to be the key. A beautiful 3D graphic displays as you launch the app and it loads directly into the camera – perfect if you want to quickly grab an image. The interface gives you 3 easy buttons – one to access the main menu, one to start creating auras and the all-important information button in the bottom right corner to help walk you through any steps of the process you need to know.
The menu gives you access to your own auras as well as the publically available ones. You can subscribe to channels, see nearby auras or even view some of the created content.
Auras (the generic term for all overlays) come in a few different versions: -
- Super auras – these auras are available to view by everyone, everywhere. However, you have to be a partner of Aurasma to create these auras. Aurasma have a number of these auras on their website for you to go and play with.
- Location specific auras – these can only be viewed in the location they were created. For example, a museum could create quite a few auras to bring their exhibits to life, even creating a 3D tour guide that can talk about the exhibits.
- Personal auras – these are stored on your own device and you can share them with your friends through email, SMS, Twitter or Facebook.
Location auras can be organised into channels, making them easier to find. Aurasma can also use location services to help you discover nearby auras in channels you have subscribed to. Aurasma stores the more relevant information on your iPad, updating as you get Wi-Fi connection – meaning that you don’t have to be connected to the web to view auras.
Aurasma have asked people designing auras to use the Aurasma logo in the trigger images – both for marketing purposes and to help people find content.
Creating auras couldn’t be easier as the application walks you through the process. Firstly you take a photo of the trigger image.
Secondly, you select the aura that you want to display. There is a ton of library content available if you’re just out to have fun but you can also upload content from your iPad if you have more of a specific purpose.
Once you’ve resized and placed the aura you want to create, just sit back and give your iPad a chance to upload the content. It should take no time at all and your aura will be ready to use.
Content, Content, Content
Super auras have the ability to link elsewhere, so if you’re watching an advertisement for something and tap on the aura it will take you to safari where you can purchase that item. Here lies the beauty of the Aurasma model – pay per click.
If you’re a super-aura creator you pay per click (or in the case of the iPad, pay per tap) of people going through your content. It’s beautiful because the average user doesn’t have to pay a penny to use the app or create fun content on the unit. Not only that, but unlike other advertising the user is the one who selects the content by scanning their iPad over the content.
Although from the outside Aurasma looks to have been designed specifically with marketing in mind, there are so many uses out there that are just waiting to be explored. Top Gear have already created content for the application that enhances their magazine. Some other uses may include: -
- Museums/art galleries – providing interactive walkthroughs.
- Tourism – information around buildings.
- Equipment guides – providing manuals/walkthrough for electronic devices.
- Navigation round shopping malls.
Aurasma certainly isn’t the first augmented reality application to hit our virtual shelves. The most famous of artificial reality applications Star Walk was launched with the iPad 2. Whilst there aren’t as many as for the iPhone, there are still a number of applications that augment your reality with everything from Wikipedia content through to how that new sofa will look in your living room. (Wikitude and SnapShop Showroom).
Aurasma is, however, fairly unique in the ability for the average user to start creating and sharing content. Most other augmented reality applications are fairly specific in the type of content they show but Aurasma broadens the scope for the content that can be created. They even encourage developers to think creatively.
The app is fairly light, giving opportunity for plenty of expansion. That being said, the interface that allows you to subscribe to channels and finding interesting content could be made a lot easier. Where the major improvements can come is in the range and depth of the content.
The quality and functionality of Aurasma is linked so heavily with the content it uses you would be excused for comparing it to the relationship the iPad has with the App Store. Judging by the content already released, Aurasma has made a very good start.