Augmented realty supplements what you see in real life with animation, data and other digital information. Sensors and actuators that leverage GPS technology and video on mobile devices can create some stunning applications.
By viewing through the display of your video/GPS enabled phone, insightful information about people, places and things that surround you can be revealed.
Check out this excellent example of augmented reality technology by Layar:
Layar’s augmented reality example demonstrates how real estate listings in the Amsterdam area can be viewed and further filtered to show only those that interest the user. Additionally, properties at a distance and out of line-of-sight are indicated and can be brought to the foreground.
Layar is venturing into the 3D space as well with their Layer 3D; a public launch planned for November 2009.
The folks at HitLab, located in New Zealand, are doing some groundbreaking research in augmented reality for commercial applications, including advertising. When the phone’s camera encounters a special symbol or shape in a newspaper ad, for example, it displays a custom 3D image that changes perspective as you move about.
HitLab’s Augmented Reality in Advertising Example:
Another related use brings to life athletes on trading cards. Topps has a good head start with their offering (not yet available on mobile).
AcrossAir has an iPhone App that helps you find the nearest Tube stations in London. Check it out:
Bionic Eye was released September 22, 2009, and Mashable did a nice writeup on their app.
Geolocation or geotagging of digital assets will generate even more possibilities and interest in augmented reality. Content such as videos, photos, podcasts, and news stories can be tagged with latitude, longitude and altitude location data. Geotagging of photos is an automated service offered by Eye-Fi. And, you can use your existing digital camera and Eye-Fi’s wireless SD card.
Practical uses of augmented reality range from surgical procedures (using augmented reality headsets) to a new category of gaming called pervasive gaming. Terrific ideas are emerging from nearly every industry.
What does the future hold? I expect augmented reality to eventually include convenient, fashionable eyewear that communicates with your mobile device, leaving you hands-free to enjoy the experience to a greater extent. Taking a photo snapshot to recognize a person, place or thing (an attractive flower, for example) will provide access to more information and/or where products are sold. Pasi Niemi drew my attention to what Nokia’s developing in this regard – click here. (Thanks, Pasi!) Imagine the prospects as content mashups begin to include Amazon, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, CraigsList, Yelp, Wikipedia and localized search.
Tim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.
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