Augmented Reality

yelpAnother science fiction technology is about to become a reality – an augmented reality that is. Augmented reality technology displays a layer of information over whatever it is that you’re looking at. In science fiction, it is often implemented through special glasses or goggles that act as a translucent display, interpreting what you see and providing useful insight in the form of text overlays. For instance, as you look at a restaurant it might display the hours of operation and the daily blue-plate special.

Augmented reality has been used for specific purposes like assisting fighter pilots and airplane mechanics, but a general purpose augmented reality system has appeared to be many years out of reach. Such a system would require technology that could interpret visual input from any angle and map it to data from a huge database containing information on every location in the world transferring the data back to the user in real time over a robust pervasive network. It seems impossible, but new applications for the iPhone 3GS have found shortcuts that bring the technology within grasp. In fact Gartner has labeled Augmented Reality as one of the top 10 disruptive technologies from 2008 through 2012.

The iPhone app Yelp and other similar applications make use of the iPhone 3GS’s Camera, GPS capabilities and compass to determine where you are, what direction you are facing, and what you are looking at. While looking through the camera, Yelp places icons over the businesses that you are viewing to provide information and customer ratings and reviews. Yelp has been available online for years, but its augmented reality function – called Monocle, has provided the software with a new prestige. Yelp’s Monicle is an impressive first step towards Augmented Reality that provides us with a glimpse of what is possible.

Augmented Reality Goes Mobile [NewsFactor]

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