Augmented Reality (AR) is when virtual graphics and/or data are overlaid onto real world objects. Many of you have seen this portrayed in movies such as Minority Report and The Matrix. It still seems a bit far fetched in 2009, yet there are apps that are beginning to make it a reality. One is Wikitude, an Android mobile app that mixes location imagery with information from Wikipedia. We first noticed it back in May 2008, when it was announced as one of the winners of the Android Developer Challenge.
Wikitude is described on its website as "a mobile travel guide for the Android platform based on location-based Wikipedia and Qype content." Essentially it allows users to overlay information from Wikipedia onto a photo of a certain location, via Mobile Google Maps. It currently supports 350,000 locations by GPS or by address. Wikitude was launched at the same time as the G1 phone in October 2008 and is currently available in the Android Market. Here's a video of how it works:
Wikitude represents perhaps the first stage of what is possible with AR. Microsoft recently released a video that shows other future scenarios for AR:
Microsoft's Surface app, released in May 2007, is a pointer to this future.
There are many potential scenarios for AR. A popular one is doing your grocery shopping and checking information on your mobile phone (or AR glasses!) about price, specials, reviews, comparisons with competing products, etc. With the rise of RFID chips and technology such as that being developed by Microsoft, this type of scenario isn't too far away.
Another interesting consideration is that social software will have a big role to play in future AR apps. For example when walking down the street, you could use your mobile phone to point to a restaurant, and overlaid on a photo of the restaurant would be customer reviews, recommendations, and other relevant user generated data. (inspiration from Rafael Torres)
Let us know other apps that are doing interesting things with AR technology mixed with the Internet. And of course we'd love to hear about your favorite future AR scenarios!
For more on this topic, read Digital Life vs Life Digital: Our Inevitable Digital Future and User Interfaces Rapidly Adjusting to Information Overload
Still think an Android-based netbook is in your future? If the abysmal performance on video hasn't turned you off yet, maybe the fire-engine red paint job coupled with 90s-era carbon fiber accents will. What you see above is the first legitimate in the wild shot of Skytone's Alpha 680, and at a glance, we're marginally excited about the sizable trackpad and roomy keyboard. Oh, and the swiveling screen is a plus, too. Check the read link for a few more looks.
A mathematical Computational Search Engine capable to process natural language
Last weekend, we attended a web demo of Wolfram Alpha, a new "computational knowledge engine" based on the work of Stephen Wolfram. Some have dubbed Alpha a "Google killer," but, in reality, it is very different from the standard search engines that we are all familiar with today.
When we got the demo, Wolfram asked us to refrain from publishing any screenshots. Today, however, the Berkman Center posted a video of the public demo Wolfram gave earlier this week, so we think it's only fair that we share our own screenshots with our readers at this point.
Query #1: internet users in Europe
Query #2: weather oakland
Query #3: oakland
Query #4: uncle's uncle's brother's son
Query #5: water 550C 3 atm
Query #6: integrate x^3 sin^2 x dx
Query #7: bob
Example of a copy and paste dialog:
Embedding Search Results:
Here is the video of the public demo at the Berkman Center. It is a bit blurry, but it does show Wolfram Alpha in action:
And if you really want a look behind the scenes, here is a look behind the scenes of the Wolfram Alpha datacenter: