10 February 2014 – The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) invites allmobile developers, location data providers, network operators and LBS serviceusers to an exciting seminar and reception that will be held from 0900 to 1500 on 25 February 2014 inBarcelona, Spain at the InstitutCartogràfic de Catalunya (ICC) during the Mobile World Congress. TheMobile World Congress, to be held 24-27 February 2014 in Barcelona, is the world's largest exhibition,conference and networking event for mobile operators, cell phone and devicemanufacturers, and providers of mobile software.

Inaddition to presentations by OGC representatives about location standards that maximizethe value of mobile devices' location awareness, the OGC will host the world'sfirst Augmented Reality (AR) Browser Interoperability Demonstration. Layar,Metaio and Wikitude, the largest AR platform providers, have cooperated to makeit easy for AR content to be shared across their technology platforms. This cooperation has resulted in the development of threeunreleased but fully functioning browsers from the three companies. Thedemonstration of AR content being used interchangeably by these browsers willtake place after lunch on Tuesday Feb 25 at the ICC during the OGC mobileseminar.

The common AR interchangeformat that enables this AR interoperability is based on the candidate OGC ARML2.0 Encoding Standard that Martin Lechner of Wikitude introduced into the OGC,with the goal to provide an interchange format for Augmented Reality. After ithas been successfully tested in the interoperability experiment, ARML 2.0 willbe reviewed by the OGC membership to become an adopted OGC standard within thenext couple of months.

Thecompanies demonstrating AR interoperability believe tomorrow's AR market willbe much more open, and thus much larger, than today's AR market. Today, a userequipped with an AR-ready device, including sensors and appropriateoutput/display support, must download a proprietary application to experiencecontent published using an AR experience authoring platform. A subset of theseapplications are referred to as “AR browsers.”

ARbrowser interoperability benefits at least these four stakeholder groups: 

  • ContentPublishers willbe able to offer AR experiences with their content to larger potentialaudiences (e.g., all users of AR browsers that support interoperability) withequal or lower effort (costs) of preparing/producing AR browser-basedexperiences with their digital assets,
  • Developersof AR experiences willbe able to choose the AR experience authoring environment they prefer or isbest suited to a project without sacrificing the “basic” experiencethey can offer their clients' target audiences and also be able to invest ininnovation (specialize) in preparation of highly engaging and interactiveexperiences,
  • Attractedby larger total audience size and lower barrier to entry, there will be morecontent publishers willing to invest in AR and greater number of developerslearning/perfecting AR experience design, generating higher revenues for ARauthoring and content management system providers, and
  • End users will be able to discover and select ARexperiences from a larger catalog while also choosing the AR browser theyprefer.

OnJanuary 21, 2014 the AR Browser Interoperability Architecture document 1.2 was agreed upon by the AR Browserpublishers participating in this process. Implementations of the architecturebegan in the second phase of the process – AR Browser Interoperability Proof ofConcept – and this interoperability will be demonstrated publicly for the firsttime on 25 February.

Attendeeswill have an opportunity to meet the developers and discuss the opportunitiesthat arise from standards-based integration of AR systems.

Martin Lechner, CTO, Wikitude,explained that, “The interoperability experiment is a breakthrough for mobileAR. For the very first time, content published in one of the platforms becomesavailable on any participating mobile AR platform, allowing content creators tofollow the “write once, run anywhere” approach. To us, the experimentis only a first step. We plan to cooperate in the future and allow more andmore features of the AR Browsers to become available in an interoperable way aswe move down the interoperability path.”

Peter Meier, CTO, Metaio,said, “Developers want to create relevant content for their customers and needreliable software and platforms to present it. The interoperability AR demo isa great opportunity to focus on the content. Ultimately the consumer willdecide on his or her preferred browser, and this way we can allow stellarcontent to always be accessible.”

Dirk Groten, CTO, Layar,added, “AR is a new medium that will change the way we look at thephysical world, linking it to the digital world. In order for this medium tobecome ubiquitous and easy to use, it is necessary to create standards so thatcontent publishers can rely on their creations being viewed by the largestpossible group of end users, regardless of the application they use; like theweb that can be browsed with multiple browsers thanks to the W3C standards.With this joint proof of concept, our companies have taken a first importantstep towards achieving this goal.” 

George Percival, ChiefEngineer, OGC, said, “This coordination of the leading AR companies andthe resulting demonstration is a watershed event in the progress of open AR tobecome a new medium.  From a geospatialperspective this marks the continued progress toward merging maps with the realworld for the benefit of all.”

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)is an international consortium of more than 470 companies, government agencies,research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus processto develop publicly available geospatial standards. OGC standards supportinteroperable solutions that “geo-enable” the Web, wireless andlocation-based services, and mainstream IT. OGC standards empower technologydevelopers to make geospatial information and services accessible and usefulwith any application that needs to be geospatially enabled. Visit the OGCwebsite at http://www.opengeospatial.org.