The latest buzz word to hit the streets this autumn is augmented reality (AR). We had virtual reality 25 years ago and that never lived up to the hype; will augmented reality have the same fate?
First of all, what is it? The simple answer is that augmented reality is the superimposing/merging of graphical images onto the real world. By combining this with a video camera and GPS system the results will be amazing.
Picture from Layer
Here at Mio we believe augmented reality will become more popular as the systems creating them become more sophisticated. Whilst Mio are investigating the feasibility of this technology for GPS navigation devices, it could be some time before it sees the light of day.
Until the software can adequately demonstrate the route you have to drive, as well as the next turn and speed, it's going to be a while before AR totally replaces the current map views that we have now. In the meantime augmented reality company, Mobilzy, have produced a product that marks the beginning of how AR in-car navigation devices could work. Wikitude Drive shows you where the next turn will be, the distance to the turn, the ETA and speed. Mio believes that it's still lacking some of the essential features necessary for a complete driving experience, but it's a start.
Besides in-car navigation the GPS receiver in many cell phones is being used for applications that will tell you more details about what you're looking at. In others you'll be able to find out how the nearest restaurant is rated amongst others in the area. Whatever you’re looking for, it can probably be found.
Picture from Wikitude
In recent months these apps have become more prolific and every few months some new "must have" piece of software appears in your in-box, ready for you to download to your phone. In August, Mobilzy, Layar and Yelp showed their AR offerings. Mobilzy released the Wikitude 3D browser an application which lets you discover more about the history of your surroundings. Point the camera at a famous building or point-of-interest and Wikitude will provide detailed historical information about it. Users can also add their own POI's which will increase the size of the database. Layar provides a similar application but with a different look and feel. Layar gets its information from a variety of sources and users can help add POI's by connecting to Flickr. Yelps offering is far more localized and kind of not official (go here for the Easter egg activation instructions), but if you're in San Francisco and you have an iPhone it could be worth downloading. October's offering is Urbanspoon, a great app that will provide you with reviews of restaurants around the US and, like Wikitude, users can add to its success by adding their own reviews, and its new "Scope" feature displays bright circles with average ratings and different sizes depending on their distance.
Picture from Yelp
Besides cell phone apps, AR is gathering momentum in such fields as car mechanics, car navigation, 3D games and music videos. Mechanics working on high-end cars can have their jobs made easier as BMW demonstrates in this video. The first game using ZugMo Motion Capture Technology brings AR to your home computer. CannonBallz, is a bit of fun where you have to dodge virtual cannon balls. Your image is captured via a webcam and you can use Facebook to challenge your friends. Finally, at the Adobe Max convention, singer-songwriter John Mayer announced that he'll be releasing an AR music video. From the 19th October you too will be able to play with this technology if you go to http://www.johnmayer.com and print out the specially designed augmented reality marker and then hold it in front of your computer's webcam, where your image will be shown on the backdrop of John Mayer singing his latest song.
The applications above are just the start and the links below are the future.
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Insider and cool Links
Ad Creation - How AR is changing advertising
The future, today
Coming to a cereal box near you
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