Augmented Reality for SketchUp

The first time I saw Augmented Reality in action, I wondered if I’d accidentally fallen through a wormhole on the way to work; it’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see on Boba Fett’s BlackBerry. AR is downright futuristic.

In the 3D modeling sense, AR involves combining a live video stream with a 3D model to create the illusion that the model is a physical object in the real world. All you need is a webcam (the ones that are built in to many laptops work just fine), a 3D model (SketchUp takes care of that), a printed-out paper “target” and a piece of AR software that can put everything together. This video shows AR in action:

And here’s an illustration that shows the setup:

A simple Augmented Reality setup for SketchUp, using an external monitor to show the video output.

Thanks to an Italian outfit called Inglobe Technologies, SketchUp users have been able to ride the AR wave for a while now. They’ve just released version 2 of their AR-media Plugin for Google SketchUp. Three great things about this shiny, happy piece of tech:

  • It’s available for both Windows and Mac OSX.
  • It’s available in three flavors: Free (Personal Learning Edition), Professional Lite and Professional.
  • I was able to use it, which means that it can’t be that hard to figure out.

Start out by grabbing the Quick Start Guide; you’ll find the relevant links about halfway down the plugin’s webpage. Follow Steps 2 and 3 to download and install the software; the free Personal Learning Edition will let you see how everything works without spending any money. After that, achieve instant gratification (my favorite kind) by skipping ahead to Step 6 in the Quick Start Guide: “Creating your first Augmented Reality Scene”.

Sneak Peek of Android 3.0, Honeycomb

The past few weeks have been exciting ones for the Android team: we recently released Nexus S and Android 2.3, Gingerbread, and we’ve even had some of our most popular team members take a trip to space. But we haven’t stopped buzzing with excitement: today at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, we previewed Android 3.0, Honeycomb.

Honeycomb is the next version of the Android platform, designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets. We’ve spent a lot of time refining the user experience in Honeycomb, and we’ve developed a brand new, truly virtual and holographic user interface. Many of Android’s existing features will really shine on Honeycomb: refined multi-tasking, elegant notifications, access to over 100,000 apps on Android Market, home screen customization with a new 3D experience and redesigned widgets that are richer and more interactive. We’ve also made some powerful upgrades to the web browser, including tabbed browsing, form auto-fill, syncing with your Google Chrome bookmarks, and incognito mode for private browsing.

Honeycomb also features the latest Google Mobile innovations including Google Maps 5 with 3D interactions and offline reliability, access to over 3 million Google eBooks, and Google Talk, which now allows you to video and voice chat with any other Google Talk enabled device (PC, tablet, etc).

Please stay tuned for more Honeycomb news from the Android team. For now, you can get a taste of Honeycomb by checking out this video.

The Next 365 Days In 120 Seconds

One year in 120 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

I just wanted to let you in on a secret. The secret of the future. Yes, that’s right, the future: The next 365 days of life in this beautiful pale blue dot are in this video.

Yes, yes, the time lapse is from 2009, but no matter how many wars, natural disasters, sickness, elections, scandals and iPhone 5s get unveiled in 2011, this is what the world will be at, impervious to our stupidity and discoveries and glories and miseries and happiness and sadness and hate and love and cocktails and disco dances, spinning at 66,611 miles per hour around the Sun as it has been spinning for the last 4.5 billion years.