Everyone talking about what near-future AR device should look like, so I’d like too.
First possibility – videoglasses with camera + lightweight PC.
Dedicated wearable PC is out IMO, it’s a too hardcore staff.
Next close thing is a netbook. Netbook could be used both in its main capacity and as an AR platform. However the problem here is the weight. Somehow I don’t think average user would want to carry around 1kg netbook in the backpack, while using AR. Anything more light wouldn’t have enough processing power to track mid-resolution stereo cameras in real time. Nevertheless weight could be reduced.
Make display and keyboard detachable, use carbon fiber case and easily replaceable dual (or may be triple) batteries. If all this would reduce weight below 400g while keeping CPU above 1.5Mhz with 2.5 hours of full load battery life (5 hours with dual batteries) such netbook could be viable platform for AR with videoglasses.
Second possibility – handheld/smartphone. Here we have severe limitations on the battery/CPU/GPU. That’s why I don’t think high resolution display would be beneficial for such AR device. To process high-resolution images require a lot of CPU power. And with small size of display hi-res wouldn’t look much better then low/mid res. 320×240 is good enough , 400×320 is optimal probably. For the same reason 1 Mb camera is enough too, but it should be fast, preferably 60 fps, camera with high quality sensors, without any distortions and good for low-light conditions. I’m not sure about auto-focus. Slow auto-focus could be a problem. Accelerometers and compass would be good. GPS is a must. CPU – 600 Mhz at least, with hardware floating point. Lightweight GPU. Most important thing is API. Complete access to Image Processor (if present), Digital Signal Processor and raw camera data. That kind of API is not easily accessible on the most of the modern smartphones.
Actually if existing smartphones had such an API opened right now there would be breakthrough in the mobile AR already. Access to DSP could make image processing a lot faster.
Now would any such device allow real time AR like in the Coca-Cola avatar ad? Definitely no.
The bottleneck here is the battery IMO. We have to wait for some new future tech like carbon nanotubes
supercapacitors to see complete coverage AR.
Just checked GLBenchmarks for Samsung INNOV8.
Samsung GT-i8510 Innov8 performance details:
High-level 3D Performance
GLBenchmark HD ES 1.0 : 1602 Frames
GLBenchmark HD ES 1.1 : 628 Frames
GLBenchmark Pro ES 1.0 : 328 Frames
GLBenchmark Pro ES 1.1 : 35 Frames
CPU Performance: Float : 988
CPU Performance: Integer : 4183
For comparison –
Nokia N95 8GB performance details:
High-level 3D Performance
GLBenchmark HD ES 1.0 : 1944 Frames
GLBenchmark HD ES 1.1 : 1766 Frames
GLBenchmark Pro ES 1.0 : 395 Frames
GLBenchmark Pro ES 1.1 : 570 Frames
CPU Performance: Float : 1411
CPU Performance: Integer : 4254
Old Nokia N95(8Gb) still beat best of newish Symbian devices hands down.
Other platforms had 600+ Mhz devices long time ago, Palm switched to new generation CPU – OMAP3430. After two years no one still able to produce better high-performance Symbian device ?
Samsung INNOV8 (Samsung GT-i8510) seems to be the best Symbian device for AR so far.(And for 3d gaming too BTW)
Camera: 120 fps in QVGA vs 30fps Nokia N95
CPU: 450 Mhz ARM11 + PowerVR 3d accelerator vs 330 Mhz ARM11 + PowerVR 3d accelerator for Nokia N95
Sound: 3D surround sound effect by DNSe 2.0 technology vs ??? for Nokia N95
GPS : both, but INNOV8 being Symbian 9.3 allow self-signing for developer who want to use GPS.
For Nokia N95 use GPS require complete Symbian Signing.
Overall pretty impressive device, with 3d accelerator, 50% faster CPU and a lot faster camera.
Mobiles on other platforms often have better CPU (533-800 Mhz), but usually lack 3d accelerator and/or have bigger screen resolution. Bigger resolution would either eat more CPU power or would force developer make effective screen window smaller.
PS There are reports that actual INNOV8 CPU speed is 330mhz