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Can Flash Player help your research project?

March 23rd, 2009

Last autumn I gave a talk at RoCHI (http://rochi2008.utcluj.ro/) a Romanian academic conference about human computer interaction. I wasn’t very excited to attend the talks there since I didn’t have very high expectation about the research activities in Romania. Well, I was very wrong. About half of the subjects and presentations there left me “mouth open’” .I also  had the pleasure to meet Mr. Sabin Buraga who I can say is a true Teacher 2.0 :) and who was one of the main responsible for putting together that inspiring conference.

But there is one subject in particular that I want to talk about: Augmented Reality. Because at that little conference I had the pleasure of staring at some extremely cool augmented reality demos. They were based, I think, on some versions of ARToolKit, also a joint research effort from multiple universities. And I was thinking: How can this technology be put to use on some real projects? How can it be evangelized?

Then I forgot about it until a colleague of mine showed me this demo. It was made with a Flash port of ARToolKit called FLARToolKit by Saqoosha. How cool was that, augmented reality in Flash!

And then the creative agencies got them and now it seems to be a fad:

http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/augmented_reality

http://www.topps.com/

and I think that BMW is preparing one for Mini.

I realized that once the ARToolKit algorithms got to run in Flash Player and thus reach 98% web audience and some creative agencies figured out they could do something with them, the technology just got free advertising worldwide. I am thinking that if you are working on the next graphical or visualization algorithms you might really want to consider them running on Flash Player. Just for the sake of a cooooool demo that can be seen by everybody. Not to mention that with Alchemy you can still have all or part of your algorithms written in C or C++ and compile them to run on Flash Player.

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