Tag Archives: Alan B. Craig

ACM “Features” Augmented Reality Book

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) (which surely has one of the greatest names for a major professional society!) this month “features” the book Understanding Augmented Reality written by friend of the blog, Sensei Alan Craig.

I’ll just briefly note that this is probably the best informed and thoughtful discussion of Augmented Reality as a medium (rather than a gee whiz technology).

If you actually want to understand Augmented Reality, in it’s many forms, this is a good place to start.

Dr. Craig actually knows what he is talking about, and he’s not selling some particular product or technology.

Check it out.


From December 2015 ACM Learning Center Bulletin:

Featured MK Title: Understanding Augmented Reality
According to author Alan B. Craig, technology that supports augmented reality will come and go, evolve and change. The underlying principles for creating exciting, useful augmented reality experiences are timeless. Understanding Augmented Reality addresses the elements that are required to create compelling augmented reality experiences, covering core conceptual issues regarding the medium of augmented reality as well as the technology required to support compelling augmented reality. By addressing AR as a medium at the conceptual level in addition to the technological level, the reader will learn to conceive of AR applications that are not limited by today’s technology. At the same time, ample examples are provided that show what is possible with current technology.

This is just one of more than 400 titles from publishers Morgan Kaufmann (MK) and Syngress in ACM’s eBook collection, covering the most bleeding-edge topics in computing, such as Big Data, Cybersecurity, Human-Computer Interaction, Parallel Computing, and more. The books are available in PDF (and some in ePub) and are downloadable to your desktop, laptop, tablet, and any popular eBook reader on your mobile device. All members (Student and Professional) can access them through the ACM Learning Center eBook catalog as well as the ACM Digital Library.”

  1.  Alan B. Craig, Understanding Augmented Reality: Concepts and Applications, San Francisco, Morgan Kaufman, 2013.

Sensei Alan Craig on BLUI, “Body Language User Interface” (1999)

Last week I noted the charming little video from Glen Keane, who is excited by his VR system that lets him “step into the page”. Keane’s excitement speaks for itself, and this VR is clearly something new for him.

When I showed this video to my VR Sensei Alan Craig, he liked it, too.

But then he remarked, “But – that is BLUI  (Body Language User Interface – pronounced Bluey).   Alaska BLUI was one of my favorite CAVE apps back in the 90s.  It was very simple but oh so powerful.

He is referring to the sweet, simple application from the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (at Fairbanks, Alaska), developed by Bill Brody and Chris Hartman in the 1990s (nearly twenty years ago). The report was described in a couple of papers (refs 1-4  below), and a report is available here.

The same folks created BLUISculpt™, for creating 3D shapes with a similar interaction. (Ref 5-6 and: source code for BLUISculpt!)

I don’t know if this is a port, or a deliberate reimplimenation, or just a case of convergent development. It doesn’t really matter.

Mainly I wanted to acknowledge the earlier work, and point out that VR has been around a long time, and most of the “new” apps you see this year were done a long time ago at supercomputing centers (where we could muster the oomph to run it).

Sensei Alan comments about BLUI, “It was always one of my favorites to show kids because they could draw so easily.  It was also great for demoing 6 DOF tracking because I could draw a simple house and then have people step inside it.

The bottom line is: if you are interested in creating Virtual Reality, you might be well served to consult with Dr. Craig and other pioneers (see refs 7-9 and here). They know a lot, you should try to stand on the shoulders of these giants.


  1. Brody, Arthur W. and Chris Hartman. BLUI: a body language user interface for 3D gestural drawing, 1999, 356-363. http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.348456
  2. Brody, Arthur W. and Chris Hartman. Painting in space, 2001, 602-614. http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.429534
  3. Brody, Bill and Chris Hartman, A Painting in Space. Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, Fairbanks, 2000. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=
  4. Brody, Bill, Painting Space With BLUI (SIGGraph explorations), in SIGGraph. 2000: New Orleans. https://www.siggraph.org/s2000/conference/skapps/skapps12.html
  5. Brody, Bill, Glenn G. Chappell, and Chris Hartman, BLUIsculpt™, in ACM SIGGRAPH 2002 conference abstracts and applications. 2002, ACM: San Antonio, Texas. p. 291-291.
  6. Craig, Alan B., Understanding Augmented Reality: Concepts and Applications, San Francisco, Morgan Kaufman, 2013.
  7. Craig, Alan B., William R. Sherman, and Jeffrey D. Will, Developing Virtual Reality, Burlington, MA, Morgan Kaufmann, 2009.
  8. Sherman, William R. and Alan B. Craig, Understanding Virtual Reality: Interface Application and Design, San Francisco, Morgan Kaufmann, 2003.

“Booklet Builder”: A good Idea for Teaching Language and Heritage

Friend and Sensei Biagio Arroba sent the  news that his Booklet Builder is now available for download. (I know he’s been working to get to this stage for quite a while.)

The Booklet Builder helps with Native American language education. It is a system designed for Native American colleges, tribes, schools and community-serving organizations, to help organizations with creating and sharing bilingual content.

Built on Drupal and other open software, with extensive support for multiple writing systems, BB is the current result of Arroba’s many years of work on ways to use Web tools to help communities preserve, teach, and learn their endangered languages. BB is a twenty first century answer to the significant challenges of publishing materials in Native American or other endangered languages.

A key feature of BB is that it is designed for “community driven content”, to let people build their own materials for formal or informal education. The flexible framework has been used in a number of projects with many collaborators, including:

  • A Living, Growing Textbook, Héċet̄u Weló Student Manual (Oglala Lakota College)
  • Content Standards (Oceti Sakowin Education Consortium)
  • Children’s Readers (Ilisagvik College in Alaska)

The same platform can be used to create games, story and song libraries, in multiple languages–lot’s of things.

I know that Sensei Biagio has worked for many years and through many versions of this concept, making him one of the outstanding experts in “crowdsourcing endangered languages“.

An earlier incarnation was LiveAndTell, which was a really neat social site for sharing (mainly) Lakota language multimedia.  LiveAndTell is described in some detail in the report and paper cited below.

Archived screen shot of LiveAntTell

Booklet Builder is a unique and interesting web toolkit.  Check it out.

áta čhó (I got that from the web: I hope that is an appropriate translation for ‘nice job’!)


  1. Arobba, Biagio, Robert E. McGrath, Joe Futrelle, and Alan B. Craig, A Community-Based Social Media Approach for Preserving Endangered Languages and Culture. 2010. http://hdl.handle.net/2142/17078
  2. Arobba, Biagio, Robert E. McGrath, Joe Futrelle, and Alan B. Craig, A Community-Based Social Media Approach for Preserving Endangered Languages and Culture, in “The Changing Dynamics of Scientific Collaborations” workshop at 44th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. 2011.

Augmented Reality by Skull Mapping

There are a variety of Augmented Reality technologies, with different user experiences. It drives me nuts when one particular variant is taken as “the” way AR works. (We are getting a lot of that nonsense from the Occulus Rift folks this year.)

The Skull Mapping collective out of Belgium is doing creative work with 3D projection mapping. I really like their recent “Le Petit Chef”.

First, they tell a story, not just “gee whiz, look at that”. I note that it is a very short story, but they manage to connect us, get us interested, and then resolve it.

Second, the whole thing is extremely location and context specific. This is the nature of the technology, but the important thing is that the story fits in and exploits the context. We know what the story is about because we are all here together in this restaurant.

Third, I like the way they mesh the virtual and digital. Notice at the end how the physical plate is carefully set right where the virtual plate was. And the virtual fork that was “dropped to the floor” is replaced by an identical physical fork (reinforcing the reality of the first one).

And a fourth point: this AR experience is something that you have to go to the restaurant, together, to experience. Only when you sit down to dinner does the dog dance for you. Be here, now.

Wonderful job, all.

I do have some suggestions for improvements if there is a Version 2. (“Le Petit Chef II: the ReCheffining”? “Terms of Enchefment”? ).

First, it would be really important for there to be more than one variant of the story, with different gags. Possibly even different Chefs. Is there more than one Chef, who might disagree and fight over your meal? Anyway, these variants would reward multiple visits, and even at the same table people might see something different in different chairs.

Second, the video shows only one meal. Obviously, it would be cool if there are several different orders, to have the Chef “prepare” or at least plate up the alternatives. As above, this would reward repeated visits.

By the way, the project could be interactive, which means that you could be asked to specify choices about side dishes, or preparation (that could go to the kitchen). And you could shake hands or pat the head of the chef. Or whatever.

(Shall I mention that you could slip the Chef a tip using bitcoin.)

Cool stuff.

  1. Alan B. Craig, Understanding Augmented Reality: Concepts and Applications, San Francisco, Morgan Kaufman, 2013.

Aloha from the big island of Hawaii; Ideas for Augmented Reality; and a Modest Proposal

I’m just returned from eight days on Hawaii, mostly at the Hilton resort at Waikoloa Village, the NW side of the big island.

As expected, Hawaii was wonderful: the weather is great, the people are happy and friendly, and I don’t mind missing the last big storm of the winter in Illinois, not at all.

The Waikoloa Village is on the northwest, dry, side of the big island (not a drop of rain while we were there—despite weeks of soaking just over the mountain in Hilo), apparently built on giant lava flows. The development is pretty touristy, with nary a bookstore to be found, but plenty of golf courses and jewelry stores. Not really my scene at all.

The Hilton is a bit more “Disney” than I expected, with considerable amount of “scripting”, and a lot of emphasis on stuff for little kids. The kids don’t bother me too much, and the script is tolerable since the theme is “Hawaii is wonderful”, which requires restraint and respect for heritage and nature. Mercifully, no costumed characters or fake villages.

By far the best part of the visit was the whale watching.  Hundreds of whales were swimming, breaching, and flapping, easily visible from shore. It was quite a show, and didn’t require any extra fee to enjoy.

One or more humpback whales cavorting.
(Phone video from Waikaloa, 28 February, Robert E. McGrath)

I was also happy to find a footpath along the shore which led to Anaeho’omalu Bay beach, where I was happy to find the Lava Lava beach club, a wonderful informal restaurant literally on the beach.  Walking a couple of miles for a good lunch is much more my style.

Thinking about Augmented Reality

After a couple of days recovery from the long flight, I had recovered and started to think again. One thing that occurred to me is that there are a ton of opportunities to deploy Augmented Reality in this kind of setting.

I’ve been thinking, studying, and talking about Augmented Reality for many years now. My colleague Alan Craig and I have written (mostly unsuccessful) proposals as long as 6 years ago. We were fortunate to receive support from the National Science Foundation, and from the National Institute of Health  for some of our work. Alan and I, along with our many collaborators, have mainly been concerned about non-profit sector applications, including science, museums, schools, and so on.

But it occurred to me that AR technology works the same in a resort, and many of the applications we’ve envisioned would be quite cool. And—bonus—there is actually a possibility that they could be funded and sustained.

So here is a three part article…  [Read Article]