Augmented Reality for Everyone

There have been many recent examples of consumer friendly augmented reality applications for smart phone users.  I remember reading about augmented reality research over a decade ago (in an HCI class) and remembering how bulky, expensive, experimental, and out-of-reach it seemed back then.  The systems back then required head-mounted displays and were physically attached to cameras and large computers.  Now it is available for any iPhone or Android smartphone user.

The first example below overlays subway signage and directional arrows to help find your way around the NY subway.  This seems great for tourists who may not be regular users of the metro (wish I had this when I was in the Netherlands last month).

Speaking of the Netherlands, the second example is for Android phones and overlays information about bars, restaurants, and houses for sale in Amsterdam:

These are certainly impressive examples of augmented reality. But another fun and simple recent example is the ball tracker that was used by ESPN:

It is implied but one possible reason we like these (we as in “users”) is that augmented reality applications pre-integrate information for us (in the first two examples) reducing the need for us to do it ourselves (a working memory and time-intensive activity) or they keep information in sensory memory longer than is usually available (ball path) letting us see patterns that would otherwise be invisible.

3 thoughts on “Augmented Reality for Everyone”

  1. Wow, that iPhone application is incredible! That may very well be the first application that I’ve ever seen that actually makes me want to own an iPod…

  2. I hear you, Keith. 🙂

    I felt the same way when watching someone identify constellations with his phone and direct him what direction to turn to see Saturn a couple weeks ago.

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