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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Best Augmented Reality Apps – Expanding the Definition

Augmented reality is one of those big 'buzzwords' at the moment along with 'cloud computing' and 'social search'. It's a big buzzword because all the industry experts are expecting it to kick off in a big way any time soon, and a big buzzword because potentially it could change the way we do things on the web and in our day to day lives in quite a big way.

So what is this augmented reality? And what does it have to do with you right now? Well the idea is basically that augmented reality combines real world information with pictures and information from a device. It's basically reality that has been 'augmented' by digital media.

While this has yet to take off in the huge way that it probably one way will, it nevertheless is already available in some rather impressive ways – and nowhere is it more present than on your phone. Here we will look at some of the best augmented reality apps available for iPhone and Android so you can start to take advantage of this exciting new technology.

Layar: Layar is an app that has people very excited but that doesn't quite yet deliver on its promise. This is augmented reality as most of us imagine. A kind of 'heads up display' for the rest of us which allows you to hold your phone up to a highstreet and then to get information on the shops and things you are looking at. The only problem is that the GPS on most phones isn't yet that accurate, and for the most part the information doesn't quite overlap onto the buildings you think it should. Furthermore the information doesn't really tell you anything you couldn't have gotten from Google Maps and without holding your phone up. Still though, it's exciting in terms of what it represents and when the technology is there and someone taps it properly this is how we're likely to see the concept being employed.

Google Maps: Google maps essentially I augmented reality – taking real world information i.e. your location, and using this to inform something stored on the system, i.e. your map. This is a piece of augmented reality that has been around since before the word was so well known, but it's something that has found its way into our every day lives and which genuinely makes things a lot easier for many of us who would now be literally lost without our phones.

RJDJ: This is an example of how augmented reality needn't necessarily be a 'visual' thing, nor a practical thing. This is an artistic and musical app that focusses on sounds in order to provide us with augmented soundscapes so that noises in the real world get warped, increased in volume and combined with other sounds to create music. This works through the headphones and mouthpiece in order to create a world where every clink of a glass and every rustle of a bag becomes incredible music. It's a very interesting app and definitely worth trying.

Marvel AR: This is an AR app from Marvel which basically allows you to get more from your comics by pointing your camera at certain pages in order to 'bring them to life' with video, sound or additional pictures. This can be used to provide a behind the scenes look at how the comic was made, or additional information to supplement the story. It's very clever as a way to give comic readers more value from their comics, and to bring comics into the 21st century and it also has a lot of potential as an advertising platform.

Gray Rollins is android lover and blogger. Recently when he lost his mobile Android phone tracker was life savior in finding mobile back.
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