Korea’s Olaworks is bringing smarter augmented reality to camera phones

Korea’s Olaworks is bringing smarter augmented reality to camera phones

Growing up watching movies like The Terminator, I always thought it would be amazing if humans too could have a visual system that could analyze we are looking at in real-time what. As it turns out, the future is actually not as far away as you may think, and I’m not talking about Google’s smart glasses.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the combination of computer generated data and the real world and, in recent years, many developers around the globe have been experimenting with the technology. One Korean startup, in particular, is making significant progress with AR.

Olaworks, which was founded in 2006, focuses on the development of computer vision and graphic technologies. The company’s technology works on cameras on devices, such as smartphones or tablets to accomplish a variety of functions, and include augmented reality and image recognition.

While Olaworks has a few apps to its name already, its main focus is the creation of technology which can be sold or licensed to other companies. Olaworks currently holds more than 60 patents and its technologies are used on various platforms around the world.

Most recently the company showcased its services at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain, where the image below was taken.

The company’s facial analysis technology has received a lot of attention and it incorporates a number of features including, recognition of similarities between faces, gender recognition and detection of facial features. A number of other features that Olaworks has developed — such as smile and blink detection — have the potential to be extremely useful for the digital cameras and devices of the future.

So far, however, the most successful solution that the company has developed are facial recognition and real-time tracking. Using a smartphone camera, the software can recognize a face registered in its database or address book, before going on to display the information about the person in real-time on the screen. As the person’s head moves, so it is tracked until it goes out of sight.

The company is taking that object analysis a step further with its new Web-based tool Mnemonics. The system differs from existing solutions as it searches for images “by context”, rather than using text.

Mnemonics connects similar images from around the Web, from where these connections can be projected onto maps or a 3D globe model. Images are arranged into ’seedclusters’, which house the most similar images and ’superclusters’, which are largely similar.

More details about Mnemonics are revealed in the video below:

Olaworks’ has worked with various major companies, such as Naver and LG Electronics, who used its technology in search engines, apps and other various software. Olaworks even developed its own app named ScanSearch, however it was only released in Korea and to a limited number of Windows phones users in Europe. The app uses augmented reality to show various locations in the direction that a mobile phone’s camera is pointed; including restaurants, bars and hospitals.

Olaworks’ describes it services as providing “the best experience thru[sic] photos and video”, while CSO Ryu Joong-hee explains company’s philosophy further:

At Olaworks, if we see a need for something in the market then we create the technology or solutions to match those needs.

Augmented reality is coming soon, and the Korean company is one of the pioneers making it happen.

➤ Olaworks

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