Charming and historical Monsanto, dubbed ‘the most Portuguese village in all of Portugal’ has a new claim to fame: it is the first town in the country to offer visitors and tourists an outdoor audio-guide system for exploring the town’s numerous highlights.
The audio-guide system developed by YDreams, runs on GPS-enabled PDAs that feature up to 24 points of interest in Monsanto. Visitors to the village no longer need to navigate the streets with confusing paper maps; instead the system’s integrated GPS technology automatically detects points of interest that are within the visitors’ range and triggers audio narrations, and displays additional images about each one.
Monsanto Audio Guides are managed and rented out to visitors by Edeventos, a local events organization firm. The amount of information provided by the audio-guide is incomparable to using a traditional map or guidebook, plus they come in three languages and there is even a version developed especially for children.
In the meantime, YDreams is currently working on a next-gen audio-guide, which aside from incorporating GPS and compass, will also integrate augmented reality technology to liven things up even more. So globe-trekkers, stay tuned – a new reality may be right around the corner in a town or city near you.
Check out the video below for a better look at the audio-guide in action (coverage in Portuguese):
Yesterday Bruce Sterling referenced our augmented reality scenic viewer on his blog! Bruce commented that “it was Interesting to see a kiosk application. If you can call that device a kiosk.”
And of course it is so much more than an average kiosk. Dubbed a virtual sightseeing scenic viewer, the totem-like device spins 360º and features a built-in screen and webcam that captures and displays exactly what you see before you on the screen in real-time. The magic resides in the fact that it uses augmented reality to merge virtual digital elements such as video, text and images with real live points in the landscape. Imagine aiming the scenic viewer at the Bastille in Paris and being able to watch a 3D historical recreation of the angry mobs storming the fortress-prison during the French revolution! The possibilities are endless and the Virtual Sightseeing scenic viewer has the capacity to make it real.
Below a video of our first scenic viewer deployed at Pinhel Castle in central Portugal back in 2005:
Many of natural user interfaces (NUI) use cameras to detect the presence of people, objects, markers, etc. This type of applications are very complex as it may include many computer science subjects like, computer vision, real-time 3D graphics, real-time physics simulation, artificial inteligence and multi-threading.
There are many libraries like OpenCV, OGRE and ODE, that resolve some of these problems but, how can we integrate all them into an easy to develop and easy to customize environment.
YVision is a platform developed by YDreams’ R&D group (YLabs) and used by YDreams’ production for the last 3 years. Many dozens of applications for our customers have been developed on it and we recently released version 3.0.
It is fully developed in C# and fully integrated into Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 (project and item templates, code snippets, IntelliSense, reference documentation) making it very productive for the developers.
Although the platform was primarily developed for NUI applications, it was kept open enough to be used on many other scenarios. We are currently using it to simulate and control robots. This is why we call it “general purpose”.