The Boring User Manuals version 2.0

[tweetmeme] A lot of applications for Augmented Reality are available in the market, in fact a lot of them are available for free and need not be purchased. But just like most new platforms it misses practical usages, at least at this early stage, and new applications are the ones that define how the success of the technology and platform performs.

Most user manuals are not very user friendly. They’re full of poorly written text and confusing diagrams which can really throw off people from reading them. Worse still, the gap between problem and solution is vast because we’re forced to apply a linear format to a specific question. There is no search box in manuals for a specific function.

But here’s an idea: What if instead of leafing through pages or scrolling through an online manual, you could simply see your way through a task? Just slide on a headset, hold your phone in front of you or extreme wear the Augmented Reality Lens and work your way through a bit of customized, augmented-reality education.

That’s what Columbia University computer science professor Steve Feiner and Ph.D. candidate Steve Henderson are trying to do with their Augmented Reality for Maintenance and Repair (ARMAR) project. They’re combining sensors, head-worn displays, and instruction to address the military’s maintenance needs. Take a look at this project video and you’ll quickly see how the same application could extend to all sorts of use cases:

The user can see five kinds of augmented content presented on the see-through head-worn display:

  1. Attention-directing information in the form of 3D and 2D arrows, explaining the location of the next task to perform.
  2. Text instructions describing the task and accompanying notes and warnings.
  3. Registered labels showing the location of each target component and surrounding context.
  4. A close-up view depicting a 3D virtual scene centered on the target at close range and rendered on a 2D screen-fixed panel.
  5. 3D models of tools (e.g. a screwdriver) and task domain components (e.g. fasteners or larger components), if applicable, registered at their current or target locations in the environment.

There are many day-to-day tasks in which consumers currently need to consult written or computer-based instructions. Think of assembling a bicycle or a piece of furniture, making a complex recipe, wiring a home entertainment center, or fixing a balky lawnmower. These are just some examples of tasks in which systems like ARMAR could make the task easier and faster to perform, and make it more likely that it’s performed correctly. Another Video below:

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    • Danny
    • March 5th, 2010

    I developed my first augmented reality application for an Android phone this Jan. Went into demo sections of the Mobile World Congress on Feb 15th. The technology is really great to work with but I’m still not able to make a great break through product yet! still scratching my head for a great use-case 🙂

      • misterjester
      • March 6th, 2010

      Dan wanna talk to you about an app !! please help me … shall mail you details tell me if you can help.

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