I’ve been involved and observed technology standards for nearly 20 years. I’ve seen the boom that came about because of the W3C's work and the Web standards that were put in place early. The standards for HTTP and HTML made content publishing for a wider audience much more attractive to the owners and developers of content than having to format their content for each individual end user application.
I’ve also seen standards introduced in emerging industries too early. For example, the ITU H.320 standards in the late 1980s were too limiting and stifled innovation in the videoconferencing industry a decade later. Even though there was an effort to correct the problem in the mid-1990s with H.323, the architectures were too limiting and eventually much of the world went to SIP (IETF Session Initiation Protocol). But even SIP has only had limited impact when compared with Skype for the adoption of video calling. So, this is an example where although there are good standards available, they are implemented by large companies and the mass market just wants things that work, first time and every time. AR is a much larger opportunity and probably closer to the Web than video conferencing or video calling.
With AR, there’s more than just a terminal and a network entity or two terminals talking to one another. As I wrote in my recent post about the AR Standards work, AR is starved for content and without widespread adoption of standards, publishers are not going to bother with making their content available. In addition to it being just too difficult to reach audiences on fragmented platforms, there’s not a clear business model. If, however, we have easy ways to publish to massive audiences, traditional business models such as premium content subscription and Pay to watch or experience, are viable.
I don’t anticipate that mass market AR can happen without open AR content publishing and management as part of other enterprise platforms. The systems have to be open and to interoperate at many levels. That's why in late 2009 I began working with other advocates of open AR to bring experts in different fields together. We gained momentum in 2011 when the Open Geospatial Consortium and the Khronos Group recognized our potential to help. These two standards development organizations see AR as very central to what they provide. The use of AR drives the adoption of faster, high performance processors (which members of the Khronos Group provide) and location-based information.
There are other organizations very consistently participating and making valuable contributions to each of our meetings. In terms of other SDOs, in addition to OGC and Khronos, the W3C, two sub committees from ISO/IEC, Open Mobile Alliance, Web3D Consortium and Society of Information Display are reporting regularly about what they’re doing. The commercial and research organizations that attend include, for example, the Fraunhofer IGD, Layar, Wikitude, Canon, Opera Software, Sony Ericsson, ST Ericsson and Qualcomm. We also really value the dozens of independent AR developers who come and contribute their experience as well. Mostly they’re from Europe but at the meeting in Austin we expect to have a new crop of US-based AR developers showing up.
Each meeting is different and always very valuable. I'm very much looking forward to next week!