Developer Newsletter: January 2011

Introduction

Welcome to the January edition of the Qualcomm Developer Network (QDevNet) News. QDevNet is about creating exceptional mobile experiences and enabling go-to-market channels and business models that fuel the strength of the wireless ecosystem. Get the latest from Qualcomm and tap into our growing network of experts and tools at qdndev.qualcomm.com.

Feature

From the Brew MP™ Developer Blog
Reduce Your Development Time with the Brew MP SDK
by Brian Perrotta, Software Design Expert & Brew MP Evangelist

My mission with this blog is to help you work efficiently and fully leverage all the capabilities of Brew®. The most important advice I have for any developer working with Brew is to use the new Brew MP SDK, which will greatly reduce your development time, even if you're developing for Brew versions 3.x or 4.x.
Read Full Post

Perspective

"The Next Generation of Play - Vision-Based Augmented Reality"
by Dr. Blair MacIntyre, Director of Qualcomm Augmented Reality Game Studio at Georgia Tech, and co-Founder of Aura Interactive, LLC

What do you get when you combine smartphones, mobile gaming, 20 years of research in augmented reality (AR), and Qualcomm's vision-based platform? We are beginning to answer this question through a research and education collaboration between my colleagues and students here at Georgia Tech, and Professor Tony Tseng and his students at the Savannah College of Art and Design's Atlanta campus.


The yellow stripe on a televised American football game is an example of virtual content laid on top of an image. When graphics are so tightly integrated, viewers accept the hybrid experience. (Photo courtesy SportVision.)

In AR, graphics (and sound) are superimposed on the physical world that a user sees (and hears) through a camera. Think of the first-down line on the field in a televised football games, or the flags in the swimming pool when you watch the Olympics. A live spectator can't see those graphics, but a television viewer can see them because the virtual content is added to the live video stream before it reaches your TV, and then your eye. Now imagine that someday, similar graphical augmentation will be possible using your mobile phone.

Since the late 1990s, my research group at Georgia Tech, the Augmented Environments Lab, has been researching ways to enhance the computing experience by putting graphics and sound into the world around the user. We've experimented with applications in art, maintenance and education that mix images and information with the physical world. Early on, we used desktop computers and head-worn displays, connected to expensive head-tracking hardware. As mobile phone technology began to improve over the past few years, we turned our attention to commodity hardware instead, and began our collaboration with Prof. Tseng and his students at SCAD to explore the potential of AR games. Over the past year, we've expanded by forming the Qualcomm Augmented Reality (AR) Game Studio at Georgia Tech. The collaboration provides the faculty and students in our collaborative Game Studio access to both the high-end hardware and the vision-based AR technology that will enable us to push the envelope in game development.

Augmented Reality Today

There is no shortage of ideas on how to leverage AR these days. The examples from televised sports show what happens when you tie graphics to the physical world in the context of broadcast TV; many advertisers are using webcam-based AR to create little toys and advertising gimmicks; our vision of AR is that it will form the foundation for the next generation of play. All the right things are falling into place for AR to move out of the research lab and into common use:

  • small, powerful mobile devices are becoming pervasive
  • high-end gaming engines for creating rich graphics are available for these devices
  • designers and developers with remarkable creativity are hungry for a new place to take their users

 

In the Qualcomm AR Game Studio at Georgia Tech, our dream is to discover new forms of play, in the same way that advances in computing technology have enabled advances in gaming over the past decades. Just as online games, the Wii and now the Kinect have each created the possibility for new play experiences, when graphics appear to be in the world around us, games can engage users in bigger ways. Based on our experiences, I firmly believe that vision-based AR is essential to building games that give players the sense that the graphics really are in the physical world, and will therefore let designers create experiences that keep players coming back to play and socialize, and have deeper and more engaging experiences.

I'm a strong advocate of vision-based AR because I believe that if we want users to behave as if the graphics are in the physical world, the graphics need to behave as if they really are in the world. That's not easy, and doesn't happen with most of today's AR apps because they rely on the built-in sensors on mobile phones, such as the GPS and compass, and those devices aren't accurate enough to let the app display the graphics convincingly. For instance, if your app is meant to display a troop of zombies limping down the street toward you, the best these sensor-based apps can do is have the zombies bounce around in front of you or seem to float a couple of feet off the sidewalk. However, with vision-based AR, there is the potential for more accurate detection and tracking, so an app might be able to create the impression that the zombies were actually coming down the street at you.


Mattel used Qualcomm's augmented reality SDK to bring the classic Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots game to life in a completely new way.

Keeping the zombies firmly planted in the physical world is where vision-based AR and Qualcomm enter. Even before starting up the Qualcomm AR Game Studio at Georgia Tech, my company, Aura Interactive, collaborated with Mattel and used the Qualcomm AR software development kit (SDK) to create a proof-of-concept Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots AR game.

What is Vision-based AR?

To create an AR experience where the graphics appear to be out in the physical world, the device needs to know where it is relative to the objects around it in order to draw graphics in the proper location. For many early mobile AR applications, developers relied on built-in GPS and compass sensors to solve this problem. For example, many AR applications use GPS and compass data to allow the user to visualize the nearest coffee shop by pointing a device down the street. While appropriate for some information retrieval applications, this approach is not accurate enough to align graphics with underlying objects in the physical world. The result is the reviews for the coffee shop you are pointing at show up on top of the burger joint down the street. This is due to inherent limitations of GPS and digital compass technology. At the Qualcomm AR Game Studio, we are using Qualcomm's AR platform, which includes the vision-based AR SDK, to create games that align graphics tightly with the physical world.
Our relationship with Qualcomm is playing a big role in taking our vision of social AR games to the next level, and if you're interested in creating AR experiences that bring your users into the world of AR, I encourage you to take advantage of some of these opportunities:

  • The Qualcomm Augmented Reality SDK is for developers of vision-based AR apps, initially for Android (v.2.1 and up) with high-end detection and tracking, and a rich set of features for development. My company used this SDK for the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em prototype.
  • Qualcomm has also released the AR Extension for Unity, with AR-specific functionality and options that enhance Unity Technologies' award-winning game development environment. With the extension, you can develop rich interactive experiences in less time. We're using Unity3D and Qualcomm's AR extension in the AR Game Studio at Georgia Tech.
  • Last but not least, Qualcomm is sponsoring the Augmented Reality Application Developer Challenge and offering a total of $200,000 in cash prizes for the most effective, entertaining and functional new application products built using the Qualcomm AR SDK. I'm happy to be serving as a judge for the developer challenge, and look forward to seeing what creative people come up with to shake loose the next wave of AR apps.

The Future of AR

Researchers have long talked about applications for gaming, media, industry, military and medicine, but AR can go far beyond these. I imagine that at some point, you'll be wearing a head-mounted display that looks like a cool pair of sunglasses. You'll be walking down the street and there will be information everywhere: updates from friends, advertisements, games, serious applications and some new form of social media that has yet to be invented. All of this will be tightly integrated onto your view of the physical world around you in a way that won't be distracting or get in your way.

But that's just where my imagination goes. We're all looking forward to seeing where you take AR, so download the SDK, enter the Developer Challenge and join us on the journey.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

News Roundup

AT&T Announces Launch of HTC Freestyle
AT&T announced yesterday that it will soon be launching its first Brew MP device, the HTC Freestyle F5151. To learn about the HTC Freestyle visit the Brew MP device database (log-in required). To get started visit the Brew MP developer website for more information on submitting your Brew MP apps to AT&T.

Extended Deadline for Qualcomm's Augmented Reality Developer Challenge
Join Qualcomm's Augmented Reality Developer Challenge and compete for $200,000 in prizes. We're accepting submissions through January 14, 2011, so develop and submit your app for the chance to win.

TIM AppShop is now live!
Submit your Java applications for the TIM AppShop and reach millions of Brazilians.
Find out how to get started.

Qualcomm Introduces new AllJoyn™ Peer-to-Peer framework at DroidCon London
Qualcomm introduced its new AllJoyn peer-to-peer software framework at DroidCon London at the end of September. Dealing with challenges like service discovery, security, message routing, multi point to multi point communications and doing it across OS platforms and radio bearers is not a simple task. These barriers have been an inhibitor to developers creating peer applications using existing technologies. AllJoyn addresses many of the key barriers developers face and as a result developers were quick to offer a broad scope of application ideas around how they best use AllJoyn. To find out more about Qualcomm's AllJoyn Peer-to-Peer Software Development Kit (SDK) for Android smartphones visit our site and download the public beta. This SDK will help you build a new generation of exciting and game changing peer-to-peer applications.

International Mobile Gaming Awards-Call for submissions closes January 10, 2011!
Celebrating its 7th year, the IMGA recognizes and rewards the world's most talented mobile game developers, whether they are from professional studios, universities or even back bedrooms. Submissions are open now through January 10, 2011, and the final awards ceremony will take place at Mobile World Congress on February 17th.
Enter your games today!

Developer Resources

Augmented Reality Extension for Unity
Qualcomm's Augmented Reality Extension for Unity is part of Qualcomm's AR platform, which also includes the previously released AR SDK for Android. If you're already developing on Unity, download the AR Extension for Unity and start introducing AR to your games and apps.

Accelerate and Elevate Your Snapdragon™ Development Project
App developers and manufacturers can create, optimize, test and showcase rich multimedia and graphics-intensive Android applications for a wide range of mobile devices leveraging the MSM8655-based Snapdragon™ mobile development platform (Snapdragon MDP). For developers who want early access to develop Android-based applications for Smartphones powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipsets, you can order the Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform online.

 

Optimize Your App with Adreno™ Profiler- Webinar Recording
Learn about optimizing your graphics for faster frame rates, smoother rendering and longer battery life with the Adreno Profiler for devices with Qualcomm's Adreno GPUs.

Watch the Adreno Profiler webinar recording.


Download the Adreno Profiler and other graphics tools.

Simplify Development with Brew MP™ SDK- Webinar Recording

Reduce your development time. Learn about the new Brew MP SDK and enhancements to the Brew MP tools. The new SDK supports Brew MP devices, as well as those running Brew® versions 3.x & 4.x - from a single toolset.
Download the Brew MP SDK.

New Brew MP Developer Website
The new Brew MP developer website is live and open for business. Get the tools, devices and distribution channel opportunities for current and prior versions of Brew all together now in one convenient place. Check it out - developer.brewmp.com

Out and About

2011 International CES
January 6-9, Las Vegas

CES is the world's largest annual tradeshow for consumer technology and America's largest annual tradeshow of any kind. Come visit our partners and see what Qualcomm technology is enabling in the "Wireless Mobility" booth #30320, South Hall, Upper Level.

Webinar: Accelerate and Elevate your Snapdragon Development Project
Jan 13, 1-2pm EST

Third party application developers and manufacturers can create, optimize, test and showcase rich multimedia and graphics-intensive applications for a wide range of mobile devices and a number of operating systems leveraging the MSM8655-based Snapdragon™ mobile development platform (Snapdragon MDP). Join BSQUARE and Qualcomm as we cover the tools and benefits of the Snapdragon MDP on Android.
Register Now

Mobile World Congress
February 14-16, Barcelona

Visit us in Hall 8 Booth B53 and don't miss the opportunity to hear Paul Jacobs, Chairman & CEO of Qualcomm in the keynote presentation "Connecting the Dots - A 360° View on Consumer Electronics."