Is Real-world Fragmentation Holding Back Augmented Reality?

Combining a smartphone with virtual information to see the world around you is certainly a value-add concept. But is the market too fragmented by different apps and platforms? Would it make sense to add these virtual layers to a more widespread, mainstream application?

Layar Augmented Reality Browser Finally Available for iPhone

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Late Wednesday, augmented reality (subscription required) app Layar finally hit the App Store. It received a lot of buzz early on in the days of AR on mobile devices, and was released long ago for devices running Google’s (s goog) Android OS.

The idea behind the browser is that multiple points of interest (POI) are displayed on top of a live feed from your camera. The POI information is drawn from multiple sources, which you can select from using the the menu at the bottom of the app. Each source provides different kinds of information, about transit, for instance, or about general tourist destinations, etc. Read More about Layar Augmented Reality Browser Finally Available for iPhone

Weekly App Store Picks: October 3, 2009

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Fueled by a burning desire to bring you the latest iPhone app recommendations, I’ve kept a keen eye on the new App Store releases this week. As ever, I’ve hand-picked four apps for you to check out.

This week I’ve given my picks a social twist, whether it’s tweeting, traveling or just talking. My top pick for this week is Ping!, plus I’ve also been looking at TwitMusic, Papaya Farm and Nearest Places.

Ping! (Free)

app_icon_pingIn just over a year I’ve purchased two iPhones — a 3G and a 3GS — totaling just over €1,000. Alongside the two iPhones, I’ve also paid €15 per month for my 3G connection, €2 per month for my carrier contract and countless euros per day on apps.

I’m not actually going to tally all of that up. My brain refuses to let me. Let’s all agree that it’s a lot of money and I’d be forgiven for leaping on any opportunity to save a bit of my hard-earned cash.

With that in mind, Ping! is the perfect antidote to a dwindling bank account. Currently free to download, the app allows you to send SMS-style messages over your data connection, which are then delivered via push to other contacts who are also registered with Ping!.

Indeed, there’s a few other IM apps that handle push, but it’s worth noting that Ping! isn’t instant messaging as such, it’s much more akin to SMS. You don’t pay to send messages, or receive, and your account is free too. Registration literally takes ten seconds, from within the app, so you’ve got no excuses — grab that app!
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Augmented Reality On the iPhone: What the Future May Hold

Recently the iPhone has become a bit of a playground for augmented reality apps. These apps have been more of a cool thing to show off to your friends than anything all that useful, but Colin Gibbs believe they have a lot of promise (subscription required).

We believe AR will eventually be ubiquitous, perhaps even to the point where users sometimes don’t even consider the differences between the real world and the virtual world. And we believe mobile phones will be the gateway medium for AR, which will eventually find audiences both massive (phones and other connected consumer devices) and tiny (niche applications in health care and enterprise, for example).

Read the full article on GigaOm Pro ? (subscription required)

Yelp Update Brings Augmented Reality As an Easter Egg

bender_monocleYesterday, we looked at Paris Metro, supposedly the first augmented reality app officially available for the iPhone. Today, Robert Scoble uncovered an Easter egg that looks like it may grant that title to Yelp, which got a version update earlier this week that carried a nice surprise: an AR mode dubbed “Monocle.”

Yelp is one of the App Store’s early successes. It offers crowdsourced locations and reviews of restaurants, bars, and other points of interests for tourists and leisure seekers. As such, it’s the perfect app for AR, which in this case consists of location names and ratings overlaid on a live feed from your iPhone’s (3GS only) camera. Read More about Yelp Update Brings Augmented Reality As an Easter Egg

First Augmented Reality App for the iPhone Is Live

Several sources reported yesterday that the latest updates to the app Metro Paris Subway had (99 cents, iTunes link) appeared on the iTunes App Store, bringing it up to version 3.0. Amongst many nice new and updated features, this version also brings augmented reality to the iPhone, officially, for the first time.
So, it’s finally here. Augmented Reality (AR) has hit the iPhone, and nothing will ever be the same again. Prepare for the Future.
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Except…don’t bother. Why, you ask? Read More about First Augmented Reality App for the iPhone Is Live

Nearest Tube iPhone App Makes Directions Real

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How’s your reality? Blasé, run-of-the-mill, so-so? Fear not — an augmented reality is right around the corner, so long as you own an iPhone 3GS. Yes, Android is well ahead of the game in this particular area, but at least one app is already awaiting Apple’s (s aapl) approval that makes use of this exciting, new technology. It’s called Nearest Tube, and it tells you where to find the nearest tube (station) in London.

Now, I’m not in London, and most of you probably aren’t either (though a few of you are), so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that this app shows off what the new iPhone 3GS is really capable of in terms of augmented reality, and also what it specifically isn’t, which may be more important in the long run.

First, the good. According to the developer’s tech demo (see video below), and CNET UK‘s own trial of the software, it works as advertised, displaying a color-coded heads-up display of floating tube station markers with distance and station name superimposed on the live feed from your iPhone’s camera. Laid flat, the iPhone displays arrows pointing to each of London’s tube lines. Read More about Nearest Tube iPhone App Makes Directions Real

Transformers Takes Baby Step Into Augmented Reality Video

augmented reality with noodlesTo help promote next week’s summer movie behemoth Tranformers 2, Paramount recently launched a web site using augmented reality, in which real-world data is merged to a virtual overlay. That’s a fancy way of saying the site uses your web camera to capture video of your face, then plop Optimus Prime’s robot head onto yours. (If you don’t feel like installing the required Active X plug-in, here’s a video of it in action.) Now you can pretend to be a Transformer without having to legally change your name, like a National Guardsman famously did before going to Iraq. I accidentally left the site up during my lunch break, then glanced at my laptop to see Optimus Prime in my living room, noshing on chow mein.

If you’re not a Transformers fan, however, it’ll probably entertain you for roughly 30 seconds. There doesn’t seem to be any functionality beyond the head-matching gimmick, which is disappointing. An option to send “I’m Optimus Prime!” screenshots to friends, for example, or post videos to YouTube, would have been nice additions. (When it comes to using augmented reality video in marketing, I prefer the much more interactive General Electric’s Smart Grid campaign from earlier this year.) At best, then, it’s a very small baby step into augmented reality, but thanks to its connection with a prominent Hollywood movie, will probably introduce a fairly large audience to this still relatively obscure technology. We can only hope future online video productions explore augmented reality’s full potential.