Augmented Reality

11th July 2009

The augmented reality Twitter client, TwittARound makes fantastic use of the compass capability inside the new iPhone 3GS. The application shows the user which direction and how far away their friends are and where their twitter mesages are originating from.

Initially I presumed the compass was added purely for in-car GPS applications. However I now see that it is one more step toward the phone becoming 'aware' of its surroundings and being able to act in a natural way. An iPhone can tell where it is in the world (GPS), which direction it is facing (compass) and the how it is being held (accelerometer). Knowing these facts it can respond accordingly.

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As much as I am impressed with the work that has gone in to TwittARound, I don't feel Twitter is the best use of such a technology. I would be more interested in an application that pulled in data from Wikipedia or Flickr to describe the places around me or show me photos of the building I am standing in front of.

A Dutch company called SPRXmobile are to release an application called Layar for the Android that does something along these lines, however the video seems to show that the app is still under development.

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Google Sky Map

Another augmented reality innovation has been created by Google. Their Sky Map application, also for Android, allows a user to point their phone to the sky to be shown where to look for star constellations.

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Sight-seeing, bargain hunting, house buying, route finding and dating are some activities which would benefit from augmented reality and I am sure high profile projects such as the ones mentioned here will ensure it won't be long before it becomes a part of our daily life.