Sunday, July 12, 2009

Augmented Reality & Handheld Devices-Finally Ready for Mainstream?

I've been following and posting about augmented reality on twitter a fair amount lately. (Click to enlarge photo.)

Augmented reality (AR) has been developing for many years. Now that AR and handheld devices have evolved, we'll be able to benefit from both in new and practical ways. This is an exciting time with wonderful possibilities. This recent New York Times article states (free login), "Once the stuff of science fiction, augmented reality is now also making its way to smartphones, thanks to advances in both hardware and software."

The video below is one of the first examples I saw of practical AR on a handheld device. Here is a recent report on further developments related to the Wikitude app below. Google's Android has been ahead of Apple's iPhone when it comes to AR. I'm hopeful Apple will catch up. There's no shortage of developers working on iPhone apps in this area, that's for sure.

Augmented reality is pretty amazing and I believe this is just the beginning of what we're going to see with AR on handheld devices. The educational applications for this are limitless. And once Apple grants access to the video API, I'm hopeful the iPhone 3GS will catch up.

And soon Layar will be available beyond the Netherlands for phones running on the Android operating system. Again, an iPhone version of this will be a must.

The newest AR iPhone video to hit Youtube has stirred further interest in the U.S.

Yesterday on twitter @loic (Loic Le Meur of Seesmic) claimed this was a fake. Here's his tweet, which was retweeted by a few others.
"augmented reality on your iphone (yeah, it's a fake but watch it anyway) "

From what I can tell it's not fake, though it's not yet available in the app store. But it may not be all it appears to be, not yet. Here's a review that talks about the good and bad of the app (written after the first London version video was released).

BTW- @angusdav did reply to "@loic why do you think the acrossair apps are fake? they say they're in the app store approval queue."

I was a bit shocked by the @loic reply "@angusdav is it not a fake? It looks so amazing that I thought it was!!!"

I've just scratched the surface on this topic. Google "augmented reality" and you'll see that there's a ton of info out there and many more exciting developments in the works. Here is a video blogger who does a nice job showing and explaining some of the AR progression. Since that video was done in March 2009 it doesn't contain the work recently released by Georgia Tech (be sure to scroll & watch that video!).

And regarding the Apple iPhone and the API controversy? - I just ran a quick search and found this: Open Letter to Apple: Let us Augment Reality with the iPhone! (Turns out it contains the videos I included here and more!)

One last additional link here-check out this awesome augmented reality business card.

So what do you think, is it time? Will this technology have much impact in our lives?


Michael J said...

Thank you for the "state of the art" survey. Most useful.

My two cents is that this time it's for real as the telecom titans are searching for any competitive advantage to gain more territory.

It's a bit like the bubble of 2000. AT%T, T Mobile, Sprint and Verizon are fighting for control of the infrastructure. It's just the right time for innovations to come up of the labs and into everyday life.

An exciting time.

Charlie said...

I am very impressed by this post! Of course, I have had time to look through it more deliberately than I typically have. I am Android as platform for AR as compared to the iPhone platform. What do you think?

Robin Ashford said...

Thanks for the comments, Michael and Charlie.

Charlie, as far as Android goes, they are definitely currently ahead of Apple. But I suspect within a year that will change. AR should end up working great on most smartphones eventually.