Ogmento

OBOTO – Rise of the Robots

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OBOTO – Digital Pet (Robot) Showcases Advanced Augmented Reality

Since co-founding Ogmento back in 2009… a goal for the company has always been to creatie immersive augmented reality experiences, including the ability to place characters and other digital interactive content seamlessly into the physical world.

The key to a truly magical and immersive experience is in the tracking.  Powerful computer vision algorithms come into play in order to seamlessly tie the virtual to the physical.  With Ogmento  focusing on premium AR experiences,, we are now highlight some of our tracking capabilities with the introduction of OBOTO, and a little robot named Oggie.

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With our prototype OBOTO app (available for iPhone) we are testing out the idea of a digital toy robot that can interact and track to the physical world without the use of markers, printouts, or any pre-setup.  To date, the need for markers, printouts, or a lengthy set-up process have prevented Augmented Reality (AR) from true mass adoption.  These initialization methods are intrusive, and ultimately barriers to entrance for many mobile content enthusiasts looking to experience the magic of AR instantly.

When it comes to offering an engaging augmented reality experience (one which can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere), Ogmento believes a zero-initialization tracking solution in a natural environment is key.  The release of OBOTO, Ogmento’s first original project, showcases such a solution.

Users can place Oggie into any environment they wish — on a table, on the floor, in middle of the street, in their hand, etc.  Oggie will track to the environment instantly, allowing the user to pan, zoom, and move around creating a seamless mixed-reality experience.  This zero-initialization, natural feature tracking AR, allows for instant immersion, which is key.

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Photo and video features allow users to get creative and show off with their very own digital pet robot.

If people enjoy the notion of virtual characters in the real world, and  the character interactions that come along with that, there are endless opportunities for this type of application. Virtual pets, mascots, toys, and more. With the added ability to unlock exclusive content based on location, and brand recognition as well, this is a content model that has no limits, and will only continue to grow.

Be sure to download and check out OBOTO, and let me know what you think.  If your company, agency or brand have ideas in mind based on this content model, I’d love to explore opportunities with you.

Relavant Links

ogmento.com/apps/oboto

facebook.com/ObotoCentral

youtube.com/ObotoCentral

twitter.com/ObotoCentral

Going Geo-Social and Hyper-Local

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I’m excited about the recent launch of our Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary iPhone game for many reasons — First, it’s Ogmento’s first big game title, and it feels great to finally have something out in the market. Even more so, this game represents a new breed of game design & platform, that is very powerful and represents the next generation of location-based gaming.

The Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary game can be described as a “Geo-Social, Massive Multiplayer, Augmented Reality Game.” That’s a mouthful, so lets call it a GSMMARG for now (if you have a better acronym, let me know). These three unique areas have individually generated a lot of buzz over the past year, but few have combined them all into one big game experience before.

On The Geo-Social side, the most common examples of popular mobile games include Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, and MyTown. Still, while these apps might offer badges and rewards for your geo-social activities, only MyTown is really close to being a game. Foursquare and the like are more akin to LBS social networks, which offer “badges” for repeat visits to certain locations (check-ins) . While these Geo-Social apps are all the rage right now, there are some inherent flaws to the way they are set up, which make them 1) not very fun or engaging, 2) not very accurate, which encourages cheating, and 3) more suited as city-guides / utility apps than any sort of true game experience.

The Paranormal Activity Game developed by Ogmento takes a newer (and what I believe to be a much more engaging) approach to Geo-Social games. Using Google maps as our “game board”, players can dynamically change the tides in the battle between good and evil, and see how that plays out in real-time, in the real-world. If you neighborhood is infected by demonic activity, you can see that on a map (Hell Holes). You can then create safe havens (Sanctuaries) by casting spells, and see how the game board (map) changes instantly. Missions in turn are not as much about “check-ins” as they are about treasure hunting along a story-line path to discover unique locations, and unlock special items which allow for more powerful spells, etc. Unlike other Geo-Social apps, the power of this game can “drive” a player to a specific location for fun and rewards. We can create missions on the fly at any specific location or time, which is very powerful. For example… when the third Paranormal Activity movie comes out in theaters this October, we can drive people to the movie theaters opening night as a mission, and allow them to unlock special spells and rewards.

So let’s talk Hyper-Local! As I mentioned, the check-in is inherently flawed because one can check in to about 40 different locations from the comfort of their house. GPS alone is not very accurate, and rewarding somebody for visiting your retail store when they haven’t really visited does not make much sense. The lack of accuracy encourages cheating, and makes the experience less rewarding for those who play by the rules. Ogmento can take the idea of check-ins much further by using computer vision to essentially “verify” the visit. If the GPS is telling me I am standing near a Starbucks, and at the same time, I am “looking at” a Starbucks logo via my phone camera, we have a powerful combo. Now, add in a bit of Augmented Reality, and trigger an interactive experience off of the logo, as well. Now the player is engaged with the brand, experiencing a cool mixed-reality experience, unlocking special rewards, and truly verifying the visit.

Currently, the Paranormal Activity game has a hyper-local augmented reality experience that is not tied to locations, but rather from user-generated content. We wanted to show-off a bit of true hyper-local AR in the game, as most AR games in market still use GPS only, or other non-computer-vision techniques. We also did not want the user to have to print anything out, and to make the trigger something fun and unique, which tied into themes of the game. We came up with “sketch-casting” where players cast spells by sketching a pentagram, and focusing their camera on the drawing. The player can create their own star sketch, and witness a true computer-vision AR experience as part of the game — a sample of things to come.

If you have an iPhone, be sure to check out Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary, and try it out for yourself. While this horror-themed RPG might not be for everybody, the power of the platform is very evident. Ogmento will be launching more titles this year, which follow along the lines of PA:S. We’ve gone geo-social and hyper-local, and the mobile game space will never be the same again.

Experience Real World Horror

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The press release went out today for Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary. We did a soft launch about a week ago, and got over 5,000 players in just a few days by word of mouth, and one mention on Paramounts Facebook page for the movie. Now with the press release out, we are looking forward to building those numbers dramatically. Exciting stuff! Here is the release…

Experience Real World Horror Game With Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary for iPhone

First Game to Combine Vision-based Augmented Reality, User-Generated Content and Geo-Social Elements; Now Available in the Apple App Store

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Augmented Reality (AR) gaming company Ogmento Inc. today announced the release of Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary, a geo-location based, augmented reality role-playing game, now available for free in the Apple App Store for the iPhone. Published by Ogmento under license from Paramount Digital Entertainment, Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary creates a new way for players to interact with their environment, where the world is the new game board and favorite neighborhood locations – coffee shops, grocery stores, parks – become integral elements in the game to transform a player’s daily routine into a riveting experience.

The launch of this game marks several milestones in mobile gaming:

- The first augmented reality game of its kind to use Ogmento’s patent-pending technology that engages with user-generated content. It allows users to draw out game play elements on paper that come into life in the game through a camera phone.

- The first game of its kind to mix geo-social and vision-based augmented reality game elements with a top tier film franchise.

Game Overview

Demonic forces are trying to bring hell to earth, and it’s up to players to withstand temptations and possessions to stop them. In Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary for the iPhone, players will have to choose a side in the global battle between good or evil. Using their iPhone at home, at work, or where ever they are, this location-based, augmented reality experience will empower players to seek out demonic activity that will test their sanity at every turn. Be careful not to succumb to evil urges, or players will become possessed by powerful dark forces. Cast spells to create sanctuaries around a player’s favorite places to keep the demons away, or submit to the unknown and spread hellholes across the city. But players can’t persevere on their own; they’ll want to recruit and collaborate with friends around the world to stay on top.

“The Paranormal Activity franchise embodies the powerful psychological space between what’s real and what’s imagined,” said Brian Selzer, co-founder and president of Ogmento. “We wanted to encapsulate that feeling in an iPhone game and use augmented reality to accentuate the overall game experience in a way that has never been done before.”

Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary is free to play, with additional features, game elements and virtual goods available for purchase in the iTunes App Store.

Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary for the iPhone can be downloaded for free at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paranormal-activity-sanctuary/id392834635?mt=8&ls=1

About Ogmento

Ogmento was founded in 2009 by industry veterans committed to developing the next generation of video games. Through cutting-edge technology that overlays computer graphics onto real-world environments, Ogmento creates games that let users directly interact with their surrounding environment. The company is currently developing ground-breaking Augmented Reality (AR) content for a range of mobile devices and platforms including iPhone, Android, PC, and traditional game consoles. Ogmento is ideally positioned at the epicenter of the Augmented Reality and Geo-location gaming industries. For more information please visit http://ogmento.com/.

About Paramount Digital Entertainment

Paramount Digital Entertainment (PDE) is a division of Paramount Pictures Corporation. PDE develops and distributes filmed entertainment across worldwide digital distribution platforms including online, mobile and portable devices, videogames, and emerging technologies. Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. The company’s labels include Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Digital Entertainment, Paramount Famous Productions, Paramount Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., Paramount Studio Group and Paramount Worldwide Television Distribution.

Ogmento First AR Gaming Startup to Win VC Funding

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I’m thrilled to be able to officially announce that Ogmento is now venture-backed. The news hit the wires today, and the story is being picked up at a tremendous rate (WSJ, Forbes, Yahoo, AOL, CNET, USA Today, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Joystiq, and many others).

Here is the original press release -

Ogmento Raises $3.5 Million in Series A Funding From Chart Venture Partners

Becomes First Augmented Reality Gaming Company To Secure Institutional Investment

NEW YORK, May 26 /PRNewswire/ — Augmented Reality (AR) gaming company Ogmento, Inc. (“Ogmento”) today announced the closing of $3.5 million in Series A equity financing to expand development of its AR game platform and operations in New York and Los Angeles. The round was led by Chart Venture Partners with participation from CNF Investments and private investors.

Already a leading company in the burgeoning Augmented Reality gaming space, Ogmento will use the funding to build out its development teams on both coasts. The company will also use the proceeds to expand the core features of its technology as it prepares the release of several game titles in the coming year.

“This investment allows us to expand our operations to support our growth while putting development resources into our own intellectual property,” said Ori Inbar, co-founder and CEO of Ogmento. “Chart and CNF bring a strong track record of identifying disruptive technologies early, and working with founders to build strong companies.”

As part of the financing, Matthew McCooe of Chart Venture Partners and Joe Del Guercio of CNF will join Ogmento’s board of directors, along with founders Brad Foxhoven, Brian Selzer, and Inbar. Cole Van Nice, a partner with Chart, will also join Ogmento’s management team directly as COO to help drive strategic planning.

“We’re thrilled to have this level of support from our investment partners,” said co-founder and President Brian Selzer. “Given Chart’s investment activity in hardware and software areas related to AR, they understand the true potential of this technology. Adding a partner to our management team is an exciting endorsement of our business.”

Ogmento has already developed interactive Augmented Reality experiences for Penguin Publishing, SAP, Orange Telecom, Smith and Nephew, and PBS. The company is currently producing games in collaboration with leading media, CPG, and sports enterprises and will continue to partner with game developers and augmented reality labs around the world.
“We’ve been evaluating the fast evolving AR industry for over a year, and believe that Ogmento is uniquely positioned to lead the charge for the industry. It has an incredibly unique mix of mainstream video game industry executives, AR industry thought leaders, and world-class researchers and scientists,” said Cole VanNice, a partner at Chart Venture Partners. “We’re delighted to be the first VC to provide funding to a company focused on Augmented Reality games, and I’m confident that together we can help Ogmento continue to build on its position as a market leader.”

ABOUT OGMENTO
Ogmento was founded in 2009 by industry veterans committed to developing the next generation of video games. Through cutting-edge technology that overlays computer graphics onto real-world environments, Ogmento creates games that let users directly interact with their surrounding environment. The company is currently developing ground-breaking Augmented Reality (AR) content for a range of mobile devices and platforms including iPhone, Android, PC, and traditional game consoles. With founders Ori Inbar, Brad Foxhoven, Brian Selzer, Oriel Bergig and Nate Hagbi and a team of experienced game designers, animators, and award winning PhD scientists, Ogmento is ideally positioned at the epicenter of the Augmented Reality industry. For more information please visit http://ogmento.com.

AR: The Purple Pill

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Things have evolved since The Matrix.

We no longer have to choose between taking the RED or the BLUE pill.

Augmented Reality offers the PURPLE pill!

I am putting together some slides for my upcoming presentations at eComm, ARE2010, etc. I thought this particular slide might serve as a nice teaser. The title of my talk is “AR: The Power of Real World Gaming,”, but “AR: The Purple Pill” certainly works as well.

For those reading this and interested in attending eComm, I’ve got 50% off codes. If you want to go, let me know.

Humanity+ Summit 2009

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I will be speaking at the Humanity+ Summit this Sunday, December 6th on the subject of Augmented Reality, and how to make sure we use AR to get to an awesome future!

The H+ Summit (Organized by Humanity +) is a two day, interactive event that will explore how humanity will be radically changed by technology in the (possibly quite near) future. Over 30 visionary speakers will explore how to enhance your body, mind, life, and world…

What is going to be like to be a human in this next phase of technological progress? How can we get our heads around it so when it arrives we’re best prepared to deal with it?

We foresee the feasibility of redesigning the human condition, including such parameters as the inevitability of aging, limitations on human and artificial intellects, unchosen psychology, suffering, and our confinement to the planet earth. The possibilities are tremendously broad and exciting — and the H+ Summit will provide a venue to discuss them with like-minded individuals, and hear exciting presentations by the leaders of the ongoing H+ r/evolution.

The Summit will be held at EON Reality, Inc. – The world’s leading interactive 3D visual content management and Virtual Reality software provider.

It should be fun, I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone there.

For more on the event and a list of speakers, check out http://hplus.eventbrite.com/

Prime-Time for Augmented Reality

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A recent AdAge artilce, starts off with the following question – Is augmented reality ready for prime-time?

Twentieth Century Fox, Coke and McDonalds are about to test the emerging technology’s mettle as a marketing tool to promote the Dec. 18 release of “Avatar,” the first live-action movie to be produced and released entirely in stereoscopic 3-D.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to go to lunch with the guys at Total Immersion responsibile for the Avatar AR campaign, Bruno Uzzan and Greg Davis. At their office, I got a sneak peek at the AR enhanced AVTR Coke can, and checked out the Avatar Mattel Toys and i-Tag’s too. Clearly, the Avatar AR campaign is a significant milestone in what is truly the dawn of AR marketing.

The AdAge article asked – Will Efforts by Coke, McDonald’s to Plug Fox’s Much-Anticipated Movie Finally Take Nascent Tech Mainstream?

I respond to this question with the following comments…

I am excited to see this campaign come to life, and believe it represents the dawn of AR marketing in a big way… highlighting how mega brands and products will come to life with added engagement, and rich-media to further enhance the customer experience.

Today’s webcam campaigns are clearly more about the wow-factor of triggering holographic-like animations off of an everyday item. As we quickly move from glyph-like codes (i.e Esquire mag) to natural feature tracking (i.e branded logos). The evolution of hardware and software will only lead to more robust, compelling and informative marketing campaigns. And mobile… will change everything!

The power of mobile AR will truly revolutionize how marketing is done. Smartphones can be used to unlock a deeper / hidden layer of content tied to the people, places and things all around us. The power and potential of that cannot be denied. We are just getting started with AR marketing.

So, will efforts by Coke, McDonalds to plug Avatar take nascent tech mainstream? Absolutely! I would argue that these mega-brands and franchises are not rolling the dice on AR technology, but rather understand where this technology is headed, and the power that it brings. We should look to these mainstreams brands to realize the right time to step in is now.

My UgoTrade.com Interview (Augmented Hollywood)

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Picture 3I was interviewed a couple weeks back by Tish Shute for her UgoTrade.com blog. Tish is a very strong supporter and voice for our burgeoning Augmented Reality Industry. She has been doing a series of feature interviews lately with all the major companies in the AR space. If you are new to AR, I highly recommend diving into UgoTrade for a truly inside perspective on things.

As for my interview, we spoke about AR from a bit of a Hollywood angle. Since I have been in a lot of studio meetings lately for Ogmento, touting our mobile Augmented Reality services, I shared a bit of insight on things from that perspective.

Here is an excerpt:

Brian Selzer: Hollywood creatives caught the AR bug before they knew what AR was. Look at science fiction movies and video games to see AR everywhere. Terminator, The Matrix, Minority Report, Iron Man.. the list goes on. Look at any video game with an integrated heads-up display. It’s clear Hollywood loves AR. It’s only been in the past few months though that the light bulb has been lit and Hollywood is seeing that the software and hardware are here today to deliver these types of AR experiences in real life (to a lesser extent of course, but the path is getting clear). So yes, the buzz is here and it’s strong. With that, we all have to be prepared for the good, the bad and the ugly as AR goes mainstream.

It certainly goes to show how young this industry is when Ogmento and Total Immersion are currently the only AR companies based in Los Angeles. It’s very exciting to be the only company right now demonstrating a natural feature tracking (markerless) iPhone experience in Hollywood. We are in talks to bring some very big brand and properties to the mobile AR space. The goal is to deliver experiences that create added engagement and value to the consumer.

For much more, check out – Games, Goggles, and Going Hollywood…How AR is Changing the Entertainment Landscape: Talking with Brian Selzer, Ogmento

My Wired.com Interview

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Wired.com interviewed me the other day on the subject of Augmented Reality.

Here is the article, which is currently the featured story on the site. – “If You’re Not Seeing Data, You’re Not Seeing.”

Being a huge Wired fan since the inception of the magazine it was a thrill to be directly contacted by them for my perspective on the dawn of the AR industry. I was asked specifically about the product mix focus for Ogmento, so I hinted at the fact that we are in talks to create mobile marketing campaigns around some major movies and toy lines.

I was slightly miss-quoted on the comment “In 2010 every blockbuster movie is going to have a mobile AR campaign tied to it.” I am not in the position to speak for “every” big movie marketing campaign, but I did share that all of the major movie studios we have met with love the possibilities of mobile AR. It is certain we will see a lot happening in the movie marketing space by end of year and into next.

Augmented Reality Comic Con

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I just returned from Comic Con (my 15th year), where I was showing people our iPhone Augmented Reality demo (ogmento.com). I am happy to report that there is fantastic buzz on our application with lots of interest from the entertainment, gaming and publishing sectors. It’s clear many are ready now to take the AR plunge!

While I was walking the convention floor with our mobile AR demo, I was pleased to discover 2009 to be the first year AR was showing up at the convention.

Focus Features had an AR demo using a webcam for the movie “9” produced by Tim Burton. The poster for the movie is just a giant QR code, which will unlock the movie trailer. The AR demo had kids holding a postcard with a marker on the back in front of the webcam, and a static animated figure appeared.

Sony’s District 9 was also being promoted at Comic Con, and they have an AR exprience online promoting that movie too.

The most interesting official AR presentation was by Mattel, which introduced toys based on the movie “Avatar.” The toy line is being released with an augmented reality counterpart, as each toy comes with a 3D tag (i-Tag) which can be held under a webcam leading to an animated 3D vehicles coming alive on your computer. These vehicles can do battle as if you were playing a video game. Total Immersion developed this AR experience for Mattel, and they certainly are the reigning kings of the webcam-based experiences. The animations and audio were really nice, and the overall experience is a great bonus feature enhancement to the toy line.

I think this was the first entertainment convention where AR made a big splash. More and more people are now being introduced to Augmented Reality, and 2010 is looking to be a banner year as movie studios, toy companies and publishers begin to embrace the technology.