YouAR has come out of stealth with a full stack of AR Cloud functionality, seeking additional funding and partners.
YouAR, of Portland, OR, is coming out of stealth with a product that addresses some of the most vexing problems in AR, including convergent cross-platform computer vision (real-time interaction between ARKit and ARCore devices), interactivity of multiple AR apps in the same location across devices, real-time scene mapping, geometric occlusion of digital objects, localization of devices beyond GPS (the AR Cloud), and the bundle drop of digital assets into remote locations. Together, this represents a heretofore unheard of stack of AR and computer vision features we have yet to see in AR, and could revolutionize the development of new apps.
The activity around Computer Vision (CV) and the AR Cloud is white hot. 6D.ai and Ubiquity6, which are also tackling these fundamental AR problems with important, original solutions, made financing announcements earlier this week. Last month, we talked about Placenote and Dent Reality's approaches to the AR Cloud and persistent geolocation of data in an AR cloud.
In addition, on Tuesday, Betaworks presented the AR class of its Visionworks accelerator. Notable was Selerio, which brings together the real world and the virtual world by creating a 3D map of objects in a room and replaces or compliments them with digital assets. As we see in the video below, Selerio can then have a virtual character interact with a real computer. The company was spun out of Cambridge University in England. Selerio CEO Ghislain Tasse said he believes this will be more valuable than Google Search. Selerio is seeking another round of funding for its solutions. which is seeking to create a CV solution which I call a Universal Visual Browser (UVB).
6D.ai, Ubiquity6, Placenote, and Selerio are venture-backed companies led by visionary technology entrepreneurs and backed by some of the most respected names in tech. YouAR, is a dark horse and underdog in this respect, which makes their story that much more delicious.
It’s spin-off of Bent Image Lab, a media production company in Portland led by Ray Di Carlo, who with his partner David Daniels have self-funded YouAR for the past four years. They have seven patents pending and a working demo that blew my socks off. Today they announced they are seeking investment partners to scale their platform.
All of these companies are intending to make money from licensing their base technology the way Unity does. Most have not solved the problem from the consumer point of view but YouAR expects to see revenue initially from enterprise use and sponsored experiences. You’ll still need to download special apps from each company, depending on which system has placed content there.
Barring a dramatic move from Google or Apple, this is destined to remain fragmented for some time to come. In other words, there will be multiple AR Clouds [plural]. To be the Google of visual world scale search, the CV system would need to find all data placed by all systems as it navigated the world, using a filter system to keep the user from being overwhelmed with irrelevant information, advertising and well… crap.
YouAR's Ray Di Carlo, CEO, David Daniels, CCO, and Carlo Calica, CTO.
In 2014, Ray Di Carlo told Daniels he wanted to plow the profits from their successful commercial production house into a new company that used markerless AR to create content that would inspire people. Di Carlo encouraged his reluctant partner to think of it as a play for all the invisible real estate in the world - an enormous stage.
Every street corner in every city in the world could be a trove of geolocated data and experiences. Daniels made all the obvious, common sense objections one would make to a deluded partner: "We're too old; we're not developers; we're not in Silicon Valley; we don't have access to venture capital." But a determined Di Carlo would not, could not, let go of the idea of "an internet of places.
Things got real when Carlo Calica, an engineer who had sold his company Adjacency, Inc., to Sapient in 1999, agreed to join YouAR. For a decade since cashing out, Calica contented himself with teaching and working with kids on robotics projects. Then he met DiCarlo and Daniels and was persuaded to join them on their quest. The engineers at YouAR have been handpicked and trained by Calica, whose main criteria is whether he views the talent as "a hacker". Almost all of the ten engineers hired by Calica were young comp sci grads from local colleges and universities who he then trained to hack the YouAR solution.
One of YouAR's hacks makes Apple’s AR Kit interoperable with Google’s AR Core, something entire companies like 8th Wall are trying to solve for the industry at large. Having just gone through the non-trival process of porting my book's app from iOs to Android, I can personally attest to the difficulty of this problem and the value of solving it for developers.
"It's kind of fun to tame AR Kit and make it play nice with Google and other systems," Calica said. " Di Carlo confirmed that commercial deployment of features like dynamic logic and loading of objects that are possible with Android will require some flexibility from Apple. "They have a lot to gain by opening their system.”
These two videos show some of YouAR's persistent capabilities, such as occlusion (including some foliage occlusion, which is a "wow") and cross-platform iOs and Android capability (also "wow") and multiplane detection.
Daniels explained that there are a number of systems working at once to make this possible: "Dynamic Asset Loading into an AR engine, just-in-time compiling for Android and Apple (hacked), a real-time content editor, a cloud server, convergent computer vision, 3D mapping, and geospatial persistence of assets."
DiCarlo believes the integration of the camera with a browser like Firefox would be the beginning of the end of the App Store. "YouAR is built for anarchy. It's critical there is no central control of the AR Cloud. It has to be as open as the Internet." Indeed, YouAR is spearheading the establishment of a new industry organization, the AR Cloud Foundation which would unify the industry around a decentralized, public AR Cloud.