The current state of Augmented Reality

In spite of the subject line of this posting, my state of knowledge on that topic may be somewhat incomplete. I apologize to the reader if this is so.

A decade or more ago, Augmented Reality started to make its way to mobile devices, mainly smart-phones, and it consisted of an application that would record the scene which the forward-facing camera was viewing, and would perform some amount of image recognition, or of decoding of humanly imperceptible optical codes, and the app would then overlay CG content over that camera video, to give an enhanced experience to the user on the phone’s display, such as, to highlight certain geographical features of tourist sites, or, to highlight certain commercial products which the user was also seen as a potential customer of…

I think that one phenomenon which has taken place with AR has been, that that market was not lucrative, so that AR apps which did exactly those things have become less frequent. However, some such apps still exist, such as the Android app named ‘ROAR‘. This app does not require that regular users create accounts, but does require that content designers do so. Yet, content designers for this app have expressed pessimism in the question of, whether to create content of this form will pay off in increased profits, because of the simple fact that a customer would need to have this exact app installed, and be running it, either, when visiting a certain store, or, when pointing the app at a product which has already been purchased, say, in order to obtain instructions on how to set up the product. One might say that there is less of a will to invest as much money as was done decades ago, into content creation.

But while this assessment sounds rather bleak, there now exist some newer forms of AR, that have led to more apps. In one new form of AR, the user points his phone at an inside room, and places virtual furniture into it, in order to preview what the best arrangements of furniture would be, before actually spending the money and committing to buy said furniture.

The main reason I don’t want to link directly to such apps is the fact, that they sometimes belong to one specific furniture company, and I don’t want to play favours.

Additionally, AR apps now exist, which do exactly one thing: To act as rulers, i.e., to give a measuration of the distance between two points in 3D, when the 3D scene has been video-recorded in 2D. This would be one example. I can’t really tell how accurate such a ruler app finally is. I’m only documenting that it exists. It seems to have averaged more than 4 stars in user satisfaction reviews.

Another type of AR which exists now, takes the form of “Google Lens“. This was once integrated into ‘Google Photos’, but has been made a separate app. It acts as a search engine, but in order to use it, instead of typing in a search, the user points his phone-cam at a scene or object.

But then, there is also a form of AR, the only purpose of which seems to be, to allow the user to start with a photo, and to create an animation from it himself, that has some sort of fictitious- or fantasy- aspect, and which is simply supposed to look interesting. The resulting animation can then be posted on social media, to impress friends. In one case, the result is an animation in which parts of the photo end up seemingly to move, while in another case, random objects which the user uploaded to a Web-site, are placed ‘in front of’ an actual scene, just like virtual furniture was, except that no intention ever existed, to place those objects physically.

Therefore, in some forms, AR still exists. I suppose that yet another, big context in which it exists is, gaming.

Dirk

 

Latest Android Update Breaks ‘kdeconnect’ on Debian Stretch (Already Resolved).

One of the apps which I have installed on my Android phone, is called ‘kdeconnect’, and I’ve blogged about it before. This is an app that allows a compatible Linux widget to sync certain data with the smart-phone.

Screenshot_20190216_130006

(Screen-Shot from some earlier version of this app, which did not constrain the available directories.)

The version which I have installed on the Debian / Stretch computer I name ‘Phosphene’, is 1.0.3~bpo9+0 . I actually needed to patch this package, so that for the following few months, it was able to browse the file-system of my phone, specifically, directories which I authorized on the phone app, from my Linux computer.

Well the Android companion to this app has just received an update through Google Play. This update broke the ability of my Linux computer to mount the remote file system – i.e., to browse any directories on the phone.

(Update at 18h25 : )

But what seems to have happened is that two updates were pushed to my phone in rapid succession, the second of which put the Android app version to 1.12.9 . The reason for which I’m inferring this, is the fact that this remote mounting of the phone’s chosen directories works now, with no actual intervention from me:

Screenshot_20190615_181900

The detail of this experience which puzzles me, is the thought that I had in fact been testing v1.12.9, when I first reported the app as broken… :-?

However, this ‘broken’ result can also occur, just because of faulty communication between the two devices.

(Update 7/6/2019, 21h25 : )

Continue reading Latest Android Update Breaks ‘kdeconnect’ on Debian Stretch (Already Resolved).

I’ve just received my 13.3″ Onyx BOOX Max2 e-Reader.

And so far I’m happy with it.

There exists an underlying issue with Android-based e-Readers, where these e-Readers are 4 years in the making, and where the issue is something I’m just learning about in recent weeks. As a security precaution, Google has toughened the requirements on the Google Play Store app, and on the Google Services app, which made numerous e-Readers, that were once proud to offer a working Google Play app, unable to connect to Google Play in the short term. This measure became effective as of March in 2018. However, certain manufacturers of such devices have been struggling to make their devices compliant with the new Google Store, and as far as I know, the BOOX Max2 which I just received, may be able to connect to the Google Play store fully.

(This posting has been revised, as of 4/14/2019, 10h15 : )

(The posting has been revised again, as of 10/24/2020, 12h45… )

(And, the posting has received another update, as of 10/29/2020, 8h10… )

Out-of-the-box, the Max2 had a firmware version from April in 2018. But the latest Firmware update is from December in 2018 (July in 2020).

  • I am glad to say that I found out how to set a PIN Code for this device because if there had truly been no way, then the cloud resources that I’m logged in to would be just as vulnerable, as an unlocked tablet. With the latest firmware, I found this setting under ‘Settings -> (Arrow to the Right) -> Screen Lock PIN Code’.
  • Apparently, the way to activate Google Play on this device, is now to go into “Settings -> Application” and to check “Activate Google Play”.

Instead of activating the Google Play Store, I have been focusing on using the Onyx app store for the time being. In days gone by, their in-house app store had a reputation of only offering apps in Chinese. But what the users of the Max2 can now do, is download e-Ink optimized apps in English. Those apps include the Amazon Kindle Android app.

This is a huge find for me because it also implies less of a security compromise, than what I’d have, if I was just to log the Max2 into Google Play.

I can side-load Free APK-Files to install software, and can install some additional proprietary, non-free apps from Onyx. APKs include the ‘OverDrive’ app, which allows me to check out books from my public library, in e-Book format. And what installs from the Onyx app store includes the ‘Kindle’ Android app, optimized for e-Ink. (:2)

I’ve tested both apps, and they seem to work fine.

But then again, speaking of side-loading… This can imply that files need to be transferred via USB-cable from a PC, to the device, and the device uses MTP as its protocol. There are some reports of issues in getting this to work from the Linux GUI, and I just ran in to such an issue…

(Updated 6/21/2019, 7h35 … )

Continue reading I’ve just received my 13.3″ Onyx BOOX Max2 e-Reader.

The Roku Remote

I feel like I might want to add some constructive criticism, about the new Roku playback device, of which I just bought one, as described in this posting.

The designers have made some progressive statements in how they designed this hardware, that range from only taking up circuit-board space with modern, HDMI output, to designing a novel remote-control. I think that although I like many of the concepts that wen into the remote, there is some room for improvement.

This remote has a headphone-jack, so that we do not need to plug any headphones into our TV or into our stationary devices, which may be located on the other side of the living room, from where we sit. The first thing I would typically test about that, is whether the sound from the TV actually does mute, when we plug in headphones. And in fact, this works as it should.

That headphone jack came bundled with headphones for me to use, right out-of-the-box. I suppose this comment might seem petty, considering that this is a standard jack, into which I could plug an any headphones I supply. But in the included headphones, the Right ear-piece could be labeled more clearly, to distinguish it from the Left ear-piece. They look nearly identical, and the tiny ‘R’ stamped into the Right piece, might be hard for people to read, whose vision is not 100%.

Okay, but now I am done with the trivial details.

The remote has 4 pre-assigned buttons, for 4 possible channels, which the designers felt that their users would want to visit most-frequently. Netflix is one of them, but there are 3 more. These buttons save us the possible hassle, of navigating a menu, to the channel we want to view most-frequently.

The problem with this is, that depending on what a certain user prefers, the other 3 channels might not be set up. They are, as usual, free to install, but then we need to enter the log-in information into our Roku, to connect to each of the accounts. What if we do not have these accounts? For example, ‘Spotify’ was randomly chosen to deserve a button on its own, and yet I would find it impractical to set up a Premium Spotify account, to use for the duration.

Continue reading The Roku Remote