Mobile Phones with Augmented Reality Applications Could Change News Experience

A new bleeding-edge technology is being developed using advanced mobile phones that could drastically affect the way audiences interact with news and local information. It's called augmented reality.

Very early applications using this technology were primarily built for gaming, but as the technology evolves it's being developed to deliver rich, local information to users.

io9, a science fiction blog, put together a great blog entry introducing two real world examples of the technology, as well as a great summary of the very techie concept:

"In a nutshell, what augmented reality does is provide you with an information overlay for your daily life. In [Vernor] Vinge's latest novel "Rainbows End," the scifi author and computer scientist imagines a world where everybody has computers networked into their glasses and clothing.

"These wearable computers allow people to do things like google information straight into their eyeballs while chatting on the street corner - or project a map overlay on the street in front of them, labeling every store. Or turn the local vacant lot into a wonderland filled with Pokemon characters ready to do battle. This is an augmented reality scenario. Now our technology can actually do this, using smart phones as a crude mobile interface."

To me, one of the most exciting (yet technologically lame) features of the new iPhone 3Gs is the compass integration. It brings mobile users much closer to creating a virtual world with rich layers of information similar to what the global design firm IDEO has envisioned

Layar, one of the Augmented Reality browsers for Android mobile phones that io9 points to, is functionally similar to IDEO's augmented reality vision. Except these aren't sketches. It's real information on a real mobile phone.

The combination of GPS technology, a broadband connection, cellular tower triangulation and now a compass integration means these mobile phones could ultimately be highly accurate when determining a user's orientation, location and direction.

Beyond new interfaces, augmented reality allows for a new layer of location information that could help fuel more mobile crowdsourcing, collaboration, gaming and more.

  • Will Sullivan

    Will Sullivan is the Interactive Director of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


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