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Mobile Augmented Reality

With the increase in onboard computing power in todays mobile devices, the use of augmented reality is finding it's way into every day, mass market applications.

Nokia Mobile Augmented Reality Prototype

Image:Jean Probert

By adding a GPS sensor, a compass, and accelerometers to a Nokia smart phone, and using data from these sensors, the phone can calculate the location of many objects its camera is aimed at.

Whenver the phone changes location, it retrieves the names and geographical coördinates of nearby landmarks from an external database.

Users can then download a wide array of information about a chosen location from the Web.

Despite the technical capability, some skeptics claim that Nokias application offers "too much complexity for a commercial application". Total Immersion, an augmented-reality company in Suresnes, France, believe that picture analysis is the solution.

Relying on software alone, Total Immersion's system begins with a single still image, plus a rough digital model of the object, and using image-recognition algorithms determine what data should be super­imposed on the image.

The company is already marketing a mobile version of its system to cell-phone operators in Asia and Europe and expects the system's first applications to be in gaming and advertising.

Nokia researchers have begun working on real-time image-recognition algorithms as well, in the hope the algorithms will eliminate the need for location sensors and improve their system's accuracy and reliability. This will reduce the complexity and make the application more robust.

Regardless of the path, all parties agree that mobile augmented reality is market ready. The mobile applications and technology are both available. All that remains is convincing carriers such as Sprint or Verizon that customers would pay for augmented-reality services. Good luck with that!!


Uses For Mobile Augmented Reality

Local Area Guide

Finding your way around an unfamiliar area can be somewhat daunting.

In a car, you can use the assistance of a GPS car navigation system. But knowing how to get from one street to another does not tell you where a particular type of restaurant is, or find an ATM.

Mobile Augmented Reality Applications are not only helping visitors get to desired locations, but also assisting them in what to do when they get there and offer directions and offers to local featured destinations: parks, tourist attractions, entertainment, restaurants, accomodation, etc.

Nokias Augmented Reality Prototype, displayed above, allows users to capture a digital image of a building on their mobile phones, and using this image, access location and information about the structure.

Google Local Maps

Google Local Maps, is one such instance. Using Google Earth, users are able to add a virtual construction of their building onto the real satellite images. Another click and previous travelers tell you their tales of 'wow' and 'woe'. And if you are driving, the voice version is extremely useful.


PhoneGuide is a project developed by the Augemented Reality Dept, Bauhaus University, Weimer Germany.

This project aims to develop and evaluate a new technique for optical data exchange between public displays and mobile devices.

Using time-multiplexed, colored barcodes shown on displays and captured by a camera-equipped cellphone, the challenge is to maximize the data transfer and robustness of the barcode recognition, with no immediate synchronization between the devices.

Although the transfer rate is much smaller than it can be achieved with electromagnetic techniques[Bluetooth or WiFi], to aim is to enable optical data transfer wherever no direct connection is available. The time-multiplexed markers can be, for instance, integrated into web-pages, movie sequences or advertisement presentations, and encode more information that possible with a single barcode alone.


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