Microsoft Research Shuts Down AURA

Microsoft Research Communities shut down the AURA project on June 30th! This was news to me as I just saw it last weekend at the Communities and Technologies conference. Here is a description of AURA from the Microsoft Research Site:

AURA – Allows populations using mobile devices to collectively author and access annotations on physical objects.

What they mean in English is that "AURA let you scan stuff at the grocery store. Upload images like Flickr and provide ratings on the objects." So in theory you could walk around Wal-Mart rating objects real time and perhaps connect with someone in the store who had experience with that particular object. Diapers are expensive you know.

Anyway, this is what the AURA page now says:

Microsoft Research AURA project and all AURA services have terminated
as of June 30, 2007.
The Microsoft Research Community Technologies Team thanks you
for your interest in this research project, and hopes that it
has been a valuable resource.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or feedback.

So, if you are thinking about this as a business model perhaps think again?

One thing that I *know* was broken with the AURA model was the "last mile" – it only worked on Windows Mobile Devices. And even those needed lenses to allow the camera to focus on something as close as a barcode. So it wasn’t convenient. And now it is gone. Hmmm.