universe2go in the press:
universe2go will turn you smartphone into a fascinating guide through the night sky with augmented reality (AR) binoculars.
How does it work?
The augmented reality binoculars are a completely new technology, which we call “Stargazer”. It allows you to see the real sky and the generated overlay images simultaneously. To do this, universe2go uses an app on your smartphone (IOS/iPhones or Android devices). It generates images of the night sky based on your local time, geographic location and the orientation of the device. Or in short: it knows where you are and what you are looking at.
You may know a lot of successful sky map Apps on all mobile platforms which claim to have an AR feature. They show the background image from the camera to generate the illusion of an overlay of reality and virtual content. This works fine in the living room but is totally useless at the night sky because the smartphone camera is not light sensitive enough to catch the stars. universe2go in contrast generates "genuine" augmented reality!
Where does it work? - on every location on planet earth.
Which languages does it speak? - English and German.
Runs on which platforms? IOS/iPhone and Android.
Obviously it makes sense to leave your sofa and explore the real night sky outside to make use of universe2go!
What can you do with universe2go?
In Discovery-Mode you explore the 88 official constellations of the night sky. Learn how the visible constellation change with the seasons of the year and which stars at the sky belong to which constellation. The constellation will be visualized to you by universe2go with lines between the real stars, that you can see in the sky. And the best about it all: You will get a short audio explanation about the specialities of the constellation. The audio is available in English and German.
Constellation lines connecting the celestial stars to show you the 88 celestial constellations.
In Mythology-Mode universe2go will show you images of mythological figures, which the ancient cultures associated with the stars in the sky. Linger a short moment at the image and universe2go will start to narrate an ancient greek legend about it. Through this very entertaining way you will learn a lot about the gods, heroes,beasts and beautiful princesses of old.
Mythological figures image overlay to show you images of mythological figures of the ancient greek astronomer Ptolemy and others.
In Deep-Sky-Mode you will see interesting sky objects beside the stars, which you normally would not be able to see with your naked eye. Discover beautiful nebulae, galaxies and star clusters, which are invisible but nevertheless populate the sky in huge numbers. universe2go will show you a fine selection of interesting objects. The most important information will be displayed as overlay in the head-up-display. Then universe2go will zoom to show you great images of the best telescopes world-wide like the Hubble Space Telescope and will explain them with spoken background information.
Object information show you detailed information about stars, nebulae, galaxies, comets and planets.
Have you ever been to a 3D planetarium yet?
When you hold on to a deep sky object you will get a zoomed image, a close up view of the objects, most of them in astonishing 3D!
(you need to watch this image with anaglyp / red-cyan glasses; with the universe2go no glasses are necessary to see the 3D effect)For me this is the coolest feature of universe2go! You will love it.
You consider yourself as an experienced astronomer? Great! – Take the challenge and try to search & find constellations, stars, planets or deep sky objects in the sky. universe2go will set the task and will give you feedback if you are wrong or right .
universe2go is for everyone!
Have you ever looked at the night sky and wandered which stars belongs to wich constellation?
Have your kids ever asked you about the stars and the night sky and all you knew was the big dipper?
Did you ever wanted to find the polar star and learn about what makes him so special?
Do you love to listen to fascinating stories about heroes, beasts and princesses of old?
Have you ever asked yourself how far you can see with your naked eye?
Do you want to know where all this beautiful Hubble images are located in the sky and learn more about their background?
Do you want to know if a meteor shower is coming tonight?
Did you ever wanted to find a comet that you heard or read about?
You know absolutely nothing about astronomy yet? (Or even if you do but love to learn something new...)
Then universe2go is definitely for you!!!
Will it work with any smartphone?
To claim that it will work with any smartphone would be incorrect - for any app.
Anyway universe2go works with many of the currently available smartphones on the market. (Windows phones excluded, could be a stretch goal).
The app will be available on the Apple App Store for IOS and on the Google Play Store for Android devices. You can choose from a list of compatible smartphones or put in the dimensions (size of display, number of pixels) in the settings.
universe2go will come with a hardware adapter for your smartphone so that it will securely fit into it. This adapter is made of a smooth material to protect the smartphone from scratches. If you change your smartphone some day you can buy just another adapter to keep using universe2go.
The evolution of universe2go
The first prototype was glued together with cardboard and some optics "at hand" nearly two years ago. The image quality was lousy but it proved that the idea would work. But as Thomas A. Edison put it "Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." After more than one year of development universe2go has now reached a great level of image quality, reliability and user friendliness.
First of all the hardware (optics) needed to be optimized to be lightweight, yield a sharp image and get the maximum field of view in order to make even the big constellations to fit in real size.
Secondly we developed special algorithms to accord for the inherent measurement errors of the smartphone, especially the compass. Although the sensors in the devices have a high precision (e.g. they yield very exact measurement) the compass has a very low accuracy which is usually not better than +/- 15 degrees. We even put the smartphones on a computerized telescope mount and spun them around to make measurements. In endless testing sessions outside on the "real night sky" I finally figured out how to reliably identify the correct stars and to align the overlay image with the real sky.
We experimented also with external sensors but beside the cost effect, we really wanted to stick to the idea of a "passive" device. You know - Murphy's Law; with additional sensors you would always deal with empty batteries, connection problems, incompatibility and so on. universe2go works as long as your smartphone works!
And last but not least we experimented a lot with different user interaction types to make the app very easy to use and control when it is inside the Stargazer device. Most of the time universe2go will work "automatically" - just look at a "Point of Interest", a star, a planet or a deep sky object and it will start explaining or telling an interesting story. Only when you want to switch between modes or change settings you control the app with movements of your head (which is very easy to learn, as many test persons have proven already).
Where do we stand now?
We are now ready for production of the universe2go. We already designed and planned the production with industrial standard 3D data formats. universe2go will be Made in Germany in order to guarantee a high quality of the product.
- The raised funding will be mainly used for creating the tooling for the injection molding but also for optimizing the Android and IOS apps and for mixing and sound processing of the audio.
Why should you fund this?
First of all you should fund universe2go because you think it is a very cool idea. Many people which have seen the prototype so far think that, too. Here are some testimonials:
"Great idea! Especially the 3D images" - Thomas Jacob
"Brilliant. Super idea. I believe this has a big future!" - Daniel Bockshecker
"I didn't know that stargazing could be that much fun!" - Marion Hofmann
Since we have filed several patents, we are experienced in implementing new technologies together with our industry partners. In the past we sold most of our ideas and lost control over them which hurts sometimes. With universe2go we wanted to enter a new road and a new experience because we believe in sharing ideas and in the community of people who want to see interesting projects growing and developing into a great product.
For us universe2go is important not only for the business part of it but because
- we want to share our enthusiasm for the night sky. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it perfectly: "Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile." - Love this!
- universe2go makes you go outside and realize this beauty instead of using your iPad or smartphone inside as a cool gadget which shows virtual stars on your living room wall.
- it is a great educational device which let's you and your kids learn with great fun.
- we need your support to make universe2go happen! The costs for the tooling is the most critical hurdle to take for any hardware project and a great risk for the entrepreneur if he does not know if anyone is really interested in his idea.
- we want to establish an internet platform and a community where you can share astro images and stories of your own about the night sky. And Indiegogo is a great way to start such a community. Be the first one to join!
The road ahead
The next step is to make the injection molding tooling which takes about 6-8 weeks. When the tooling is complete, we will begin test production runs. If everything works fine we should be able to move to full production by Summer. The production timeline looks like this:
- March: In conjunction with professional German mechanical engineers and designers with experience in mass market consumer products manufacturing we will finalize the tooling design. The pre-production prototype has been tested in the field and we are satisfied with the usability and look of the design.
- April: Injection molding tooling should be complete. Our manufacturer has done work of similar or more challenging designs for many clients in Europe. We have reviewed the tooling milestone based on the finalized 3D industrial data formats together with professional manufacturing experts.
- May: Final checks of engineering prototypes.
- June/July: Production begins. Our manufacturer has a large facility capable of producing 10,000 units per week, if necessary, and a demonstrated track record of high quality production for major consumer brands.
- end of July: Product transferred from factory, labeled, and shipped to backers' doors!
More money - more fun! We have some more ideas to enhance the universe2go experience even more. Here is the first stretch goal:
- $60.000 - if we reach this funding goal, universe2go will get telescope connection functionality. (You will need a separately sold wireless device to interface with your telescope)
More details about the goal and the next stretch goal will be given when each of the stretch goals are reached. There a some exciting options down the line!
Spread the wordEven if you do not want to fund universe2go yourself, maybe because you are not so much into night sky and astronomy, you can support us!
- Tell friends about this campaign and the idea. Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ or any other social media platform.
- All I want is, to make universe2go come to live and share my enthusiasm about the night sky with others.
Thank you! Yes, you! For all you out there who helped me coming this far with my idea. For all the encouragement and motivation and criticism and advice.
And thank you to all the new supporters of universe2go. Let's create a new way of sharing our love for the stars!
- What do I need to use universe2go? - you need a Stargazer device and a compatible smartphone (iPhone4, 4S, 5, 5S, 5C, iPod touch 4th Gen., Samsung Galaxy S3,S4,S4 active,S4 mini, Google Nexus, Sony Xperia, HTC One, LG G2). You need to download the free app universe2go from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store .
- My smartphone is not on the list. Can't I use universe2go anyway? - MAYBE, if it is smartphone running Android, you probably can. Check the specs of your smartphone. It needs a gyro sensor, a gravitational sensor and a compass. (GPS is supported but is not mandatory, you can specify your location manually in the settings). The size and resolution of the display does not matter. (For very small displays the 3D view might not be available.). (refer to your manual or load AndroSensor from the Google Play Store to check the available sensors of your device).
- In which languages is the audio? So far you can listen to universe2go in English and German. (Let's see - hopefully Spanish and French will follow soon...)
- Can I use earphones? - NO, not yet. That is because every smartphone has the earphone plug at a different position so the Stargazer device would need many holes for all device types (you can drill one on your own if you dare...). I am checking the possibility of having a small adapter plug that would fit into the case. Anyway you can use a Bluetooth headset if your smartphone supports it (which it does, probably).
- Do I need an internet connection? - NO, all content is stored on the smartphone. You will need an internet connection only for content updates (planned to give you fresh information about new events)
- Can I use universe2go without the Stargazer device? YES - you can. You can switch to a sky map mode in the settings. The sky map mode has the basic functions but no audio.
- Will universe2go be open source? - NO, not by now. The technology of the universe2go is currently registered and protected by patent law. But we are thinking about releasing a lightweight do-it-yourself cardboard kit that you could assemble together with your kids after we have successfully entered into the market.
- Can I use universe2go with my glasses on? - YES, we designed the Stargazer device flat on the viewer's side to make it convenient for use with glasses on.
- What is the difference between universe2go and a planetarium app? - JOY OF USE! A planetarium app is an intelligent sky map, but still it is a map. With universe2go you immerse into the real sky with augmented reality. And then, there is this awesome 3D effect...
Who we are
Martin is the co-founder and CEO of innospiring with a PhD in quantum chemistry. He previously worked for Bayer as innovation manager. innospiring is an innovation consulting company based in Germany. The whole universe2go team is made up of programmers, a graphics designer and an audio engineer.