Wednesday, 13 April 2011

13.04. Meet Ayla the AR

I saw an interview with a writer on the telly here the other day, a writer named Jean M. Auel. She is most famous for a series of novels set in prehistoric Europe that explores interactions of Cro-Magnon people with Neanderthals. She has just published her sixth book in this series and the interview was about this new book. Her first book in the series called ‘Earth’s Children’ came out as early as 1980, and I read it a few years later when it had been translated into Norwegian. You might have heard about it, the first book was called ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’ and was filmed with Daryl Hannah as Ayla. The next couple of books came out at regular intervals, number 2 in 1982, number 3 in 1985, number 4 in 1990...and then there was a long wait for the next book. I thought I had missed the book launch, or perhaps because I had moved to Britain maybe these books weren’t as popular here as they were in Norway. But finally, in 2002, book number 5 was released, and I read this one in English. I have to tell you these books are not exactly small things you tuck into your pocket on the tube...they are huge! And so is book number 6 too, just published, 9 years after number 5 and long awaited :-) The book is 660 pages and just as much a brick as all the other ones, but I bet that when I get to the last page I will feel exactly the same way as with all the other books in the series; wishing that there were many more pages still!

The new book, ‘The land of painted caves’, has an interesting feature on the cover, an augmented reality symbol, a kind of a hologram you can see if you hold the book up to a web-cam. I haven’t bought books for a long time, quite a few years to be honest, so maybe most book publishers have entered the 21st century to be able to attract the right kind of readers – and offer these and similar kind of interactions. I was intrigued by this feature so I just had to have a go at it. There is no gadget or IT-tech-gimmick that I can just walk past without at least have a try :-) I did struggle a bit at first, I must admit that, for some reason my computer told me that I had TWO web-cameras – although I definitely have only one, an integrated one, and nowhere in the help file for this little gizmo did it say that I had to choose camera...chose between the one and the one I had! I finally got it to work in Mozilla Firefox, just by trial and most things in the world of least my world! And lo and behold, I saw Ayla :-) Or a hologram of what the publisher thought she should look like, and sound like - with a very British voice!

I thought I had to share this with all my visitors, but how on earth can I explain to you what it was I saw? I bet you haven’t really got it yet....right? OK, if you would like to see this, I have made a short movie of what you can see on the screen, but as I have filmed the actual computer screen, the quality is of course not very good. However, if you intend to buy this book at some point, don’t let me spoil this for you, as you can do the same if you have a computer and a web-cam. But if you would like to see Ayla, the main character in all 6 books, click on the start button below.

What did you think? Just to clarify; what you see are my hands holding my book in front of my computer so that my web-cam can see the book and the small golden symbol on the front of the cover. The software installed in the browser picks up the fact that I am showing that symbol, and then views the hologram, or the augmented reality figure as they call it. Every time I hold the book up in front of the web-cam, the figure comes up and the short video starts; when the golden symbol comes out of shot of the web-cam, the figure vanishes. It was a bit difficult in the beginning to get Ayla to stay; she kept dropping off because I didn’t keep the book in the correct angle. And once she actually appeared upside down, with her bum in the air! I have no idea how I managed to do that, but I started laughing when that happened, so I had to cut that bit out – didn’t want to have that on the film! But if you are having a go, give it a few attempts as you probably will need it, but once you get the hang of it you’ll see it isn’t difficult at all. I am mostly amazed over the technological advancement behind this feature, not so much the drawing of the woman – which by the way looks much better on screen than through my camera lens I can assure you, so if you do have the book and haven’t tried this yet, have a go, you won’t be disappointed. Did you wonder about the music? If you recognised it but can’t really remember what it was I can put you out of your misery and make sure you won’t have to spend the rest of the day and evening ponder about the title: it was ‘The New World Symphony’ by Antonín Dvořák (1893) – a rather fitting piece of music for the main character of the book series ‘Earth’s Children’ I think.

I haven’t started reading the book yet, I have so many projects going on at the moment and I know how buried I can get in a book once I start reading so I have decided to just put it on my bookshelf until I go into hospital again in June. I will get plenty of time to read this book then, as I am having a hip replacement operation. If I can just manage to leave the book alone until then, I am going to enjoy reading it while recovering from my operation. Book review will therefore have to wait until further notice :-)

That’s it for tonight, I have no further update for my gardens because I haven’t been outside for a couple of days, but I hope to get a bit done over the week-end and will try to take some new photos. Until next time, take care.


  1. Thank you! I haven't got a web-cam and have been very curious about what would appear if I was able to hold my book up to one.

  2. Where did you find the AR app? The book says go to but I get a blank page :( This may be because the book is a few years old but I hope the app is still available somewhere! If anyone can tell me, please do.

    1. This post was written nearly 2 years ago, the publisher has obviously taken down the AR since then. I am therefore closing this post for any more comments as I don't want to be flooded with questions about it. I have nothing to do with the book or the publisher :-)