The iPhone has completely revolutionized the mobile device industry, let alone the smart phone world. Lately, the App Store has been cranking out better and better applications (and yes, a few terrible ones too). With the recent release of the new firmware version, iPhone 3.0, the device has gotten even better. With the recent release of the iPhone 3GS, the phone now comes equipped with a video camera, a compass, and GPS: the three tools necessary for augmented reality applications.
What is augmented reality? “It’s a field of computer research which deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data (virtual reality), where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time.” (Wikipedia) Augmented reality iPhone apps, as you might have guessed, blend actual footage (as seen by the camera on the device) with various data which incorporates the phone’s GPS, compass, internet connection, accelerometer, speaker, and phone itself.
Interestingly enough, the history of Augmented Reality dates all the way back to 1849, when the famous (and evil) German composer Richard Wagner decided to entertain his theater audiences by turning off the lights, and surrounding the listeners with imagery and sound from all angles. Wagner’s idea of tricking his audience’s senses is the same idea which lead to the (much later) creation of virtual reality. Virtual reality, as seen in some video games or Disney World rides, eventually lead to the idea of mixing the real with the virtual, to not only trick the senses, but to enhance the way we interact with our surroundings. That was the birth of augmented reality, and while it’s still a developing technology, we could soon expect to have it on our iPhones.
The Android platform already has some augmented reality apps running in beta. Once Apple approves developers with this new technology, it will be exciting to see what is in store for us. From finding nearest points of interest (POIs), to locating a family member, here are some cool upcoming AR apps we found just for you. The earliest ones can be expected to be made available by September this year.
Now this is what the iPhone is all about. This app, intended for Londoners, helps you navigate the confusing local underground and the various stations. When you hold the phone flat (parallel to the floor), all 13 lines of the London Underground are displayed. The fun begins when you tilt the phone upwards. The app takes advantage of the iPhone’s video camera (yes, that means iPhone 3GS only) and immediately starts showing what is seen by the camera. The app then layers bubbles over the background that show the nearest station, what direction they are in, how far away they are, and what tube lines they are on. If you continue tilting your phone higher and higher, you can see the stations that are further away. Check out the video demo, and go here for more info.
New York Nearest Subway
New York Nearest Subway, also by Acrossair, is just like Nearest Tube but instead of the London Undergronud, it displays the New York Subway
system. Holding the phone flat displays all 33 subway lines, and tilting the phone upward shows the nearest subway stations to you, depending on which way you point the phone. Amazing. Find out more here.
by The Astonishing Tribe
Now this is just on a whole new level of awesome. Augmented ID allows you to point your phone at someone’s face and automatically discover information about them (Facebook, Twitter, their business card, a photograph, and whatever other information they want to share) as long as they, of course, are Augmented ID users. The application utilizes facial recognition software and is truly futuristic.
Check out the video, and learn more here.
Sekai Camera lets you learn about the objects around you. If you’re at a museum, simply point the phone at a painting, and you’ll access information about the art and artist. If you’re in a mall, point at a store or article of clothing to get more information. The app seems like it will have tons of features. It works through geotags. Learn more here and at Tonchidot. Check out the demo video:
by Networks in Motion
Family finder will allow you to pinpoint the location of your friends and family members,
provided they are using the same service. If you’re a parent, you won’t
have to wonder anymore where the kids are, or try to guess when someone might be
home. If you’re a kid, and you wanna make sure you’re parents are still out so they don’t come home while there’s still 80 people in the living room, then you need Family Finder. Check out the video deom, and learn more here.
by Dove Valley Apps
HideNtweet is a free social networking application that’s already available in the App Store. The app is a hide-n-seek game that utilizes an interactive map and a Twitter client. You can play with friends or solo (with cartoon ghosts). Go here to learn more.
TwittAround is an augmented reality Twitter client for the iPhone 3GS. The application allows users to visually track nearby tweets in full fledged AR style. It gives you the location of individual tweets, and points you to them right over the live video background. Check out the video and find out more here:
by SPRX Mobile
Layar is similar to Sekai Camera, in that it helps you interact with whatever it is that you point your phone’s camera at. For every POI on the screen, there’s lots of information displayed at the bottom. You’re able to find nearby real estate, prices, health care
providers, ATM machines, and even jobs. Check out the vid and learn more here.
by Guiseppe Costanza
With FoodTracer, you can visualize information about the food item you’re checking out at the super market in AR fashion. You can compare products,
ingredients, and make conscious decisions about the foods you purchase. The developer has a demo running on Symbian s60 phones, and as an iPhone user, I
look forward to seeing this availabe at the App Store. Check out the video and learn more here.
As you can tell, developers have gotten pretty creative with their augmented reality iPhone app ideas. If Apple quits with its ridiculous app censorship (and stands up to AT&T) and starts allowing AR apps into iTunes, we’ll get some excellent apps in the future. The question remains, however, will people actually use these apps? You know, not just to try them and say “Wow, that’s cool”. Do you think AR apps will truly be useful as a tool (or will they just be a fad)? Let us know in the comments.