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Augmented Reality (AR) experts Metaio and image-recognition company Kooaba have teamed up to deliver an AR experience for music fans. The new Android version of Metaio’s Junaio mobile AR browser lets users point a phone camera at any CD cover and see related information, such as band-related merchandise on eBay, affiliates or customer ratings and nearby events related to the artist.

Kooaba’s image recognition identifies the CD while Junaio displays the relevant information in an AR interface. However, the CD application is really just a demonstration. The real significance of this announcement is that mobile AR, which has previously been mostly restricted to the outdoors, can now be applied to everyday household objects.

Mobile AR browsers recognize the objects in the phone’s camera view and overlay information over that view. Since GPS and the phone’s accelerometer are used to identify the camera’s field of view (and this information is not very accurate), only large-scale objects like buildings can normally be recognized. Indoor AR requires the use of a marker, usually some kind of QR code (a 2-dimensional barcode) embedded in the object which the phone can recognize. Everyday objects can’t be recognized unless they have a marker.

We previously wrote about an AR application called Recognizr, which uses facial recognition to identify people and display their status updates. Kooaba does the same thing for objects.  Kooaba’s visual search technology uses image recognition to identify any object present in the company’s database, which currently covers books, CDs, DVDs, games and movie posters. You can also add new objects via the Kooaba API so Kooaba can be “taught” to recognize any type of object. One downside to this kind of image recognition is that, depending on the size of the database of objects, it can take up to 10 seconds to retrieve the information.

Junaio decided to partner with Kooaba since it is the only open visual search system currently available. Google Goggles is only available on Google phones and Nokia’s Point and Find is restricted to Nokia phones. Adding visual search is part of Metaio’s effort to become the technology leader in the AR space and to create an “Augmented Reality Experience Platform” that can be used for all kinds of applications. The company has a track record of extending the technical capabilities of AR with features such as LLA (Longtitude, Latitude, Altitude) markers which improve the accuracy of positioning in indoor AR or the forthcoming markerless tracking technology which can identify the same building or landscape feature in different weather and lighting conditions.

Metaio CTO Peter Georges Meier says Junaio expects to use a revenue share model where, for example, if a print ad has an AR dimension, then Metaio gets part of the ad revenue. There are also plans to add payment features to Junaio so that people can buy AR content like travel guides but also buy the object (or related objects like concert tickets via CDs) being viewed via the AR interface.

Metaio is based in Munich, has a staff of 65 and was established in 2003. Kooaba has 10 employees, was founded in 2006 and has 10 employees. Both companies are privately funded.

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