OBOTO – Rise of the Robots

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

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.

Instafilms.com is live!

We just launch of our public beta for Instafilms.com. This is “machinima for the masses.” Instafilms allows video game fans to make their own CG animated short films (or shows) with a simple tool set that includes text-to-speech, drag and drop cameras, and choices of sets and characters. Shows get rendered within minutes, and you can post them anywhere.

There are currently three “shows” to choose from: Sony Playstation’s Heavenly Sword, Ubisoft’s Brothers in Arms, and our own original franchise, Menlo Park. We will be adding more game franchises in the coming weeks.

Make your own cartoon.. its a lot of fun! Any comments or feedback, I would love to know what you think!

My 3D Facial Avatar

While at GDC I had my face scanned by EyeBCom, for a realistic 3D facial avatar. The scan turned out really nice, although I hate to admit this because I look very serious and a tad goofy.

I also met with the gang over at BigStage and had my picture scanned into their system. I will update this post once I get access to that demo. Once scanned into their system BigStage offers a bunch of movie clips which you can integrate your face into, turning yourself into the star. This final product is a bit like what JibJab and Gizmoz are doing now, but with 3D tech you can take things much further than just the floating head effect typically seen.

These 3D facial scans have obvious User-Generated Content (UGC) implications, allowing people to easily upload their photos online and put themselves into video game and animation experiences. BigStage currently asks for 3 pictures to be taken (a bit much) and a standard webcam camera will not work (resolution too low), so the barrier to entrance is still a bit high. Still, things are changing quickly and soon it will be very easy to star in any online content you want using these technologies.

As we get ready to launch instafilms.com, this is certainly a viable extension of our business, and should prove to be a lot of fun once integrated. Why just direct your own videos and animation, when you can star in them too?

Instafilms.com – Menlo Park


We continue to build out Instafilms.com for a Q1 ’09 release. While most of the site focuses on video game related content, we are launching new and original shows as well. Here is a sneak-peak at one of the new characters and environments for a show we call “Menlo Park.” I wrote this very quickly as a test to see if the new assets are working properly, and also because I am bummed I can’t buy peanunt butter right now due to a selmenella scare.

Instafilms.com – Machinima for the Masses

Instafilms - coming soonMy latest project is in rapid development right now, and I am truly excited about this one!

The site is called InstaFilms, and allows you to make a high-end CG (3D) animated show instantly! The tools are really easy to use, the technology utilizes “text to speach” so you simply type in what you want the characters to say, and they speak them right away. Choosing camera angles, sets, characters, animations could not be easier.

We will be importing high-end video game characters, sets and other assets. If you are familiar with the quality level of these assets, you start to get an idea of what these movies will look like. Now, anybody can be making their own Pixar-like shows.

Please sign-up to be notified of our Private Beta Launch in January 2009. We will be rolling this out to the public during Q2 2009.