By David Dorf on Jun 26, 2009
One of the hyped technologies of late is augmented reality, and it maybe the next killer-app for smartphones. You've seen augmented reality (AR) before, but probably don't realize it. The yellow first down line shown on TV during American football games is an example. Highlighting the puck during hockey games is another. Heck, they're sticking advertisments on the field of play nowdays. Soon they'll be painting halftime streakers for our entertainment.
When we think of mashups, we typically envision a map with data from multiple sources overlayed, like home prices, square footage, and tax assessments (eg Zillow). Now replace the map with, well, the real world. Aim your smartphone's camera at a landmark, and see information about the landmark overlaid on the screen. Slowly pan, and see the data change in real-time. Companies like Mobilizy and Layar are using the GPS in your phone to determine your position, then they use the accelerometer as a compass to determine where you are pointing your phone's camera. Then voila, data is overlayed on the camera's image so while you're looking at Big Ben you can learn about its history. Or you can pan the cityscape looking for the nearest ATM.
Its a little hard to explain, so check out both company websites mentioned above for videos that demonstrate the technology.
Perhaps this technology will someday be used to help locate stores, offer additional information on billboards and shop-fronts, or maybe even in-environment advertising (follow the link for a very cool video). Things get especially interesting when you layer on the time dimension so that the landscape doesn't necessarily have to be static. Or possibly add object recognition (follow the link for a very cool video).
The future of computing is your mobile phone.