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April 22, 2009

Nokia and USC strap a rocket to Augmented Reality research

HOLLYWOOD, USA – Nokia Research Center has been exploring and developing the concept of Augmented Reality (AR) for over a year now, with much of the initial groundwork done at NRC Palo Alto (watch an early video demo here). In November 2008, Nokia opened a new NRC lab in Hollywood – Augmented Reality is one of the key areas of research at the California based center. Accelerating the development of Augmented Reality, today Nokia announced that the University of Southern California (USC) is collaborating with NRC Hollywood, with the first project being the advancement of this exciting realm of research.

Read on for more on the development of Augmented Reality and what you can expect to see to see come out of this fresh collaboration between NRC Hollywood and the academic experts at USC.

Sure, Augmented Reality is quite a bizarre concept to wrap your mind around, so if you’re coming to this fresh here’s a quick lowdown on what it’s all about. A location based service, Augmented Reality is designed to use your handset’s camera to enable you to see the real world with valuable real-time contextual information superimposed on top of the real-time images – visualized via overlaid 3D graphic objects, icons and text. The idea simply being that you can extract info from your surroundings simply by ‘looking’ at them with your Nokia device. Or think of it as Nokia Point and Find on steroids (another service to come out of NRC).

Ulrich Neumann is a professor in the Computer Science Department in the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California. Here’s what he had to say:

“While there is no limit on future applications for augmented reality experiences on mobile devices, the enabling technologies behind complex augmented reality are still in the research stages. It’s a great opportunity to work with visionary companies like Nokia that are investing in breakthrough research in visual recognition techniques for use on mobile devices. It’s exciting to work with Nokia as part of their commitment to advancing the science of interactive media.”

AR tracking and content recognition techniques will be just a couple of the primary points of focus in ramping up the development of Augmented reality. Rebecca Allen is laboratory director at the Nokia Research Center in Hollywood, and was keen to highlight why teaming up with the University of Southern California promises to be so fruitful:

“USC’s history of excellence and expertise in science, engineering and the arts will greatly help Nokia in rapidly innovating advanced mobile user experiences. We are pleased to further NRC’s heritage of open innovation by working on research projects in collaboration with universities and research institutes around the world such as USC.”

Is Augmented Reality something you could see yourself using in the future?