InsideAR Augmented Reality Conference 2012

Oktoberfest, a 16-day festival held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany is a festival to celebrate beer. Millions of people from all around the world come to Munich to partake in Oktoberfest and binge drinking. I quickly found myself booking a flight to Munich, but not primarily for this reason.

As soon as I found myself in Munich, I was surrounded by Germans donning Lederhosen and Dindls for Oktoberfest. As much as I wanted to participate, I was here for something just as interesting, InsideAR. Oktoberfest can wait till after.

InsideAR is a two-day conference hosted in Munich, Germany by company Metaio to discuss advancements in Augmented Reality. This year was the biggest in InsideAR history with nearly 500 participants from around the World.

I was pleased to find that the conference was very easy to get to as they set up a shuttle service right outside one of the train station stops. The check-in process was a breeze and I soon found myself on the exhibition floor.

The exhibition floor was packed full of diverse use cases of augmented reality. I saw everything from augmented reality games to AR used in the automotive industry. It truly displayed how augmented reality is being used in a variety of industries and the possibilities were limitless. I also found it a very pleasurably experience as the beverages were always plentiful with juices, water, coffee and tea.

Once the bell chimed, all the participants funneled into the spacious conference room to hear the speakers. It was invigorating to see people who were just as passionate and intrigued by augmented reality as I am. I definitely felt the energy.

The conference opened with a wonderful keynote presentation by Thomas Alt, Peter Meier and Selim BenHimane in which they touched on this idea of globally scaling the augmented city. The goal was to imagine a city where most aspects were augmented and provided the user with interactive elements and information. Well that’s the dream and the team foresaw that in 2014, it would become a reality. In order to make this a reality in 2014, a call to action was made to encourage developers to create more content, more object and bring in more users.

Metaio made the conference interesting as they found speakers from a variety of industries, not just marketing. My most pressing question was asked during the round-table discussion, “What does the year 2014 look like in terms of augmented reality?”

Several of the panelists mentioned that it will still be in an experimental state. A comparison was made that it would be the comparison to a freshman in college. Hearing this claim, I couldn’t agree more. I thought that the examples in the exhibition room and presentations were interesting, but they still had a long way to go. I remember seeing a concept video for the Google glasses and thought, “Wow, that would actually change the world.” Augmented reality still has a long way to go.

The panelists mentioned that there are several challenges to the adoption of augmented reality as it stands now. We have yet to discover the true benefits of AR, it is currently too slow of processing and there is the fear of having a disappointing first experience.

One of the most interesting use cases I saw came from Gabriel Weiss and Mitsubishi Electric. This is one case where the company used the technology to actually generate more sales, save time and lower cost. I thought that this was an amazing case study of how AR can be applied to the business sales process today and actually generate revenue and profit for the company. If you’re curious, you can watch his presentation here.

Metaio also made some interesting announcements such as the new metaio Creator which allows users to easily create augmented reality experiences via a drag-and-drop interface for print. They claim that it is the only augmented reality software on the market allowing you to create a complete AR experience in less than 5 minutes.

They also introduced the new metaio SDK which attempts to redefine and improve the AR-app development process.

Lastly they promoted the free junaio mobileAR browser app for Android and iOS devices. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test the junaio app during the conference as the wifi was having issues.

What I learned:

  1. Augmented reality still has a long ways to go, we can help speed up the process by contributing more content, objects and finding more users.
  2. Currently there are many challenges to adoption: (1) We have yet to discover the true benefits, (2) the technology isn’t where it needs to be yet as processing of AR is often too slow and (3) there is a fear of having  a disappointing first experience with AR that is deterring people to try it again.
  3. There are a lot of bad examples of AR, don’t be afraid to fail as it’s still a very new technology and we have yet to find the best use cases.

Did you miss the event? Not to worry! Thankfully the great people over at Metaio captured all the speakers and you can watch their presentation on their site: http://www.metaio.com/insideAR/. Of course, the event was much more pleasant in person as I met so many wonderful individuals who were just as interested in Augmented Reality as I am.

You can see more photos from the event on their Facebook Page.

See you next year!


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