HP: Printed images can 'come alive' with Autonomy tech

The Aurasma augmented reality technology will let people make printed images 'come alive' by associating them with cloud-stored pictures, film and other forms of data

HP has said how it might integrate augmented-reality technology from Autonomy directly into its printers.

Aurasma demo

HP has indicated how its will use Autonomy's augmented-reality tech Aurasma in its printers. Above: holding the phone and app over the bottom-left image causes a video to play on the phone. Image credit: Autonomy

The Aurasma technology from HP's Autonomy division could be used to tie cloud-stored data such as movies to printed images, according to Nicole Eagan, senior vice president of information management at HP. Aurasma, which has been available as a cloud-based mobile app since May 2011, creates digital fingerprints called 'Auras' for individual objects and uses these to link online resources to images of those objects.

"Every time you want to print an image and when you point your mobile device to it, with Auras it would come alive," she told ZDNet UK on Thursday. Aurasma, which is run as a separate division within Autonomy, has demonstrated this by overlaying movies on pictures in mobile phone images taken from real life.

Every time you want to print an image and when you point your mobile device to it, with Auras it would come alive.

– Nicole Eagan, HP

In November, Autonomy's chief executive, Mike Lynch, told ZDNet UK the company was working on "really stunning technology" for printers.

Using an Aurasma-enabled printer, a marketer could tie an image of a baby to a movie of the same child stored in the Autonomy Aurasma cloud. Then, when people pointed a smartphone with the Aurasma augmented reality app at the image, the phone's screen would play the movie. "It's futuristic," Eagan said.

The technology is in development. "We have been working on a research project [with HP] for some time about how exactly we would do it," Matt Mills, head of innovation and strategic partnerships at Aurasma, told ZDNet UK. "It's certainly a goal."

Consumer applications are also on the cards. A user could take a photo of the garden in a new house, link it to a movie or message, then post the print-out to relatives, confirmed Eagan. 

"It's not going to be your boring 'Here's a printer'," Fernando Lucini, Autonomy's chief architect, said. "It's about how we make it part of your world, part of your story and your data... It's going to be very different, I don't think [people are] going to have thought of this."

Enterprise technology

HP is also working on enterprise-targeted printer features that use Autonomy's technology to push draft documents to employees who need to review them prior to printing.

For example, Eagan said, legal departments could use the technology to make sure a contract was sent to the right people for review, before routing it to people for signing and printing.

The news follows HP's merger of its printer and PC units in March. At the time, analysts said they were "not sure of the strategic benefits" of the move. HP bought Autonomy for £7.1bn in October.

The company would not give any potential release dates for its Aurasma-based printer product.

"HP sees many opportunities for Autonomy technology to be integrated across its product line," HP told ZDNet UK when asked for further information on the technology. "We have already launched joint products and plan that there will be more. We will announce these developments when we are ready to bring these to customers."

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