With great strength comes great responsibility

AR : A View From The TrenchesThis week we joined the Augmented World Expo in Berlin. This event is super relevant now that Augmented Reality (AR) is rapidly becoming mainstream.
The Netherlands was represented by us and a couple more very impressive Dutch superheroes.
The theme was “Super powers to the people“ and the conference was filled with super heroes from all over the world.
“With great strength comes great responsibility” and this was an important theme in our keynote talk.
Platipus likes to be a facilitator in the process of teaching the youngsters ( the super heroes in development ) to be able to join in “reading” and “writing” in AR. So we shared our experiences in educating ( emancipating ) the new generation and asked for help from the AR community.

Augmented Reality in a post metaio era

Only a few days ago, the 27th of May, the community of certified metaio developer heroes suddenly discovered that long-time friend metaio had disappeared. He had vanished and only left a short note announcing that his services to us would be discontinued. And that was it. No details on the “why?!“, just: “no more metaio magic for you friend!

Metaio developers received a beating when Apple seized metaio and discontinued all it's products and services

Without supply of metaio’s magic the developers felt left alone, exposed and vulnerable. Metaio was an old faithful friend and one that we had always blindly trusted would cover our backs while we fought our battles in the slowly emerging new world of AR.

We’ve entered a new era. A major shift has happened in the AR landscape.
To give you a sense of what metaio’s technology meant for an average Platipus Augmented Reality app, see this info-graphic;

PostMetaioEra1

Yes, that’s right; metaio would allow us ( in return for a substantial amount of our money ) to piece together great AR functionality by combining their brilliantly designed highly efficient software components. Metaio code covered most of the hard challenges of AR, so we could focus on building the actual user experience of the actual user application. For us, metaio was the smartest option for most of our application needs because their technology stack supported an incredible wide range of (highly configurable) tracking technologies, supported all the software- and hardware platforms (PC, Mac, iOS and Android) that we wanted to develop for and supported a wide range of AR content formats. And as an icing on the cake metaio also released pretty awesome tools for rapidly creating and testing tracking configurations and content for their platform. We certainly weren’t in a developer heaven but metaio was often far ahead of it’s competition, both in the breadth of its offerings as well as in the details. We had great fun working with metaio because you could feel that they were genuinely excited about AR technology and excited by the advancements they co-created with their hardware- and software partners. For years we’ve been visiting metaio’s Munich InsideAR events which gave an unique opportunity to get deep insiders knowledge an be inspired by the brilliance of the enthusiastic nerds that it attracted.

Now that we’ve learned that metaio has been acquired by Apple we have little hope that the technology will return to empower AR developers. We guess that Apple will use the captured superpower exclusively for advancing the AR experiences on their iOS and OS X platforms. We’d  love to be proven wrong on this assumption. Apple is not yet communicating with the community of metaio certified developers so we have to guess their intentions with us. We’re not waiting, we can’t afford to sit still, the world needs our magic.

There’s no off the shelf alternative for metaio’s technology stack. So we will have to go shopping for superhero magic potions again.  In this post metaio era, we’ll have to connect puzzle pieces from different providers to maintain ( improve! ) the quality level that you expect to get from Platipus.

PostMetaioEra2

Well, Platipus certainly is a master in adapting and connecting ( remember we’re both reptile and mammal ) so we naturally feel comfortable in the new era. And with AWE just around the corner ( 8-10 June ) we’re very excited about the opportunity to connect with the rest of the AR super heroes and see who will emerge to fill the gaps that metaio left. The world needs further merging of the digital and physical. Platipus will continue the fight to unlock the potential of the new highly augmented world and bring it’s super powers to you.

If you’re going to AWE please consider going to our talks on Tuesday. See you around!