Brief explanation: Augmented Reality is the combiantion of the real world and the virtual world: with computer-generated data overlaid onto images and video of real things. The video below will explain it visually… but bear with me.
In a recent blog at the Guardian, Kevin Anderson asks “Does augmented reality have a market beyond sci-fi fans?” The post is pegged on a new video doing the rounds on an AR app for Wimbledon, that shows match data, the location of refreshment stands or tell you if the line at a cafe is particularly long.
My answer to his question is yes, hopefully. And that market is travel. The following video demonstrating the Wikitude application for Android phones is one of the coolest things I’ve seen all year.
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The application uses geo-tagged information from the Wikipedia and Panoramio APIs, and overlays it onto camera views from the Android.
But imagine it was overlaying geo-tagged data from Lonely Planet’s API, or TripAdvisor, or indeed the Guardian’s?
You could get off the train in a city, turn your phone on, point it in front of you, and see what it recommends in your eyesight. Or, indeed, beyond it. Hungry? Click on the “food” tab, point your phone at a restaurant, and let the phone tell you what’s on the menu.
Of course, this stuff is a long way off yet. There are many hurdles to jump before anything like what I’ve described above exists. In the post mentioned above, Kevin sums this up:
The real proof will be in the user experience. I think Wimbledon is a great place to show off this technology. You’re dealing with a finite space and a relatively limited amount of information. When you scale that up to the wide world, it becomes a lot more complex, and I worry that the experience won’t live up to the promise
But if it does… I’m betting that it changes the way we travel. Got the bug? Here’s a bunch of videos about AR.