Impressions on the Social Age

Augmented Reality is Simply, Simple.

Posted in Uncategorized by Trace on July 5, 2010

One of my favorite programs of the rarely used pieces of Android or iPhone software is called Augmented Reality (AR). The idea is to use the devices’ internal cameras to overlay digital information on real life video.

A popular example is the Yelp app. Yelp has been able to perform AR since the iPhone 3GS, but with the new iOS4 it’s even quicker and more precise.

To use it, open Yelp and switch to the Map view of the nearby Yelp reviewed establishments, touch the Monocle button and simply hold up your phone as if to look through it. The map becomes a video display of what is “behind” the phone, with the Yelp reviewed establishments overlain complete with names and star ratings. Plus, if you turn, the phone knows the direction you’re facing adjusting your “Monocle” accordingly.

Image courtesy

A mobile phone of today, is not at all what you thought it was in 1998 or even in 2005. Since the new Android and iOS operating systems, phones have become miniature computer-replacements, with processing power that rivals computers of only a few years ago.

In fact, back in 2002, Apple’s portable iBook G3 was the premiere Mac mobile technology. According to the Apple website the iBook was designed to accompany you everywhere, just like a mobile phone is now. The iBook had a 700 MHz G3 processor, up to 30GB hard drive space, and with either 128 or 256MB of RAM.

The processing power of the iBook, while impressive in 2002, is comparable to the recently released iPhone 4 (which has 1GHz processor, 32GB hard drive, and 512MB RAM)! Through this powerful, yet superbly mobile, software platform, developers now perform tasks unimaginable even eight years ago on the iBook.

Yelp’s is just one of many uses of augmented reality. Another, explained by Amy Webb of the Webb Media Group, is a dating app, where your “matches” are displayed on the screen. You can read their reviews and see how far away they are from your current GPS location before deciding if you want to have a meet up.

The ultimately AR is designed to use information from reality and send it to a database in order to retrieve more specific information. A popular use for AR, is with photo instead of live video. Google Goggles (available only on the Android system) allows you to search the web using photos taken on your phone. SnapTell and SaveBenjamins on the iPhone are similar. There are also “scanners” that allow photos of barcodes and “Tags” to be searched as well.

Some other ways it might be implemented in PR, Consumer products or even simple navigation!

Politics/Advocacy: Perhaps to find voting registration or Tabling for certain candidates.
Shopping: Never ask where the Sale table or clearance section is again.
Navigation: No more stupid cartoon interface, you could see “through” the phone at the road behind it.

The bottom line is, augmented reality is still in its infancy, but it is a promising technology with dozens of interesting possible applications. For now I’m going to use it to find a Mexican restaurant!


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