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Augmented Reality Buzz August 27, 2009

Posted by tcarlyle in augemented reality.

As someone back from vacations, you find yourself with tons of feeds, news and emails to read. Adding the fact that the previous months I was pretty focused on my thesis, there are a few things that I’m just getting into contact right now. One of them is this new buzz about Augmented Reality Applications. At my first sight I was pretty amazed and a bit pissed by the fact that most of the augmented reality mobile apps are being coded for Android and Iphone platforms and I have a S60 =(

Anyway, by checking it further and reading some more, I’m starting to notice that this buzz is being somehow similar to the one of LBS applications, where in the initial state the real usability is not always taken into consideration and most of the applications seem to be copying each other or providing extremely few realistic use cases. Most seem to only produce some applications practically unuseful but exciting as they deal with something “new”.

I am mainly questioning right now is if people will be willing to take their phone and start to scan the city or their friends pointing it to them. I know it is awesome to imagine that scanning of the T-1000 in the Terminator movie, but holding a phone in front of you is not the same thing. Maybe I’m from an old generation, but Im not sure if I will be used to that so soon. I wonder if a scene of someone scanning the surroundings wouldnt be a good input for a silly youtube video a la star wars kid. Moreover, it could possibly attract “pick pockets” as he would be showing a high-end mobile to everyone around for some period of time in a public place.

Still I must assume that those are small arguments in case someone makes a really useful app that may be worthy the “silly” look and in some places it may be safe to reveal the phone to the public in such a way. But so far, the impression I have is that people are more amazed about the technology itself and not with the practical benefits of the current applications. For example, I’d love to try the Arhrrr game, but I have my reserves if I’d really want to play it seriously. Several applications such as the one for finding the tube (subway) are focusing in navigation and adding the camera as an friendly UI, but for most of the cases I’d rather just have the phone in my hand as a kind of compass without the need of “filming” the environment.

However, I am in fact more reluctant with applications where the augmented reality aims filming people such as the Augmented ID. I think extremely invasive to have someone pointing a camera to you. I’d rather see this as an id card exchanged and possibly broadcast through bluetooth, wlan, wpan, rfid or other more pervasive technology. In fact most of the cases I’ve seen of this augmented reality apps for the current mobile phone platforms could be implemented without the camera without any substantial loss of UI friendliness.  At last, one thing hat will be probably have to be addressed is  how much all those filming affects the battery of the phone. But as we are having more and more sensors, gadgets and power in the phones, the batteries will have to evolve fast as well.

Despite my reserves towards the short-term future of those apps, I’d like to test them myself, so if you know one to S60, I’d be interested to try =)


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