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Augmenting Reality With Your Mobile Phone 111

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the evolve-no-neck dept.
blackbearnh writes "With the release of the 3.1 iPhone OS, application developers will finally be able to develop augmented reality (AR) apps. In other words, Terminator Vision is right around the corner. O'Reilly Media recently talked to Chetan Damani, one of the founders of Acrossair, about how they developed their new AR application, Nearest Tube, which displays the closest London Tube stations over a live video overlay on an iPhone 3GS. According to Damani, developing AR applications on the 3GS is dead easy, and the real trick will be developing good augmented reality apps. 'It's all about who's going to have the most amount of data and the most valid data. So there's the obvious types of apps which you're going to launch and those are the find me my nearest bar, find me my nearest event, find me the nearest tube stop, find me the nearest ATM. And those sorts of apps are all going to be around. But they're only going to be useful for when you're trying to look for things. So if we want to get users to use augmented reality a little bit more, we have to start introducing other bits of functionality, things like show me the offers available in a particular high street. Show me when I'm walking down a high street if there's a table available at a particular restaurant. And it's that sort of interactivity and providing that real-time data in this augmented reality view which is going to start getting people to use it a lot more rather than just for show me where the nearest area is.'"
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Augmenting Reality With Your Mobile Phone

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  • what we need (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:05PM (#29218101)
    Great! Just what we need! More ways people can walk around staring at a device in their hands while being utterly oblivious to their surroundings. And yet this is all about informing them of their surroundings. Oh, the irony...
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:09PM (#29218145) Journal

      Great! Just what we need! More ways people can walk around staring at a device in their hands while being utterly oblivious to their surroundings. And yet this is all about informing them of their surroundings. Oh, the irony...

      I enjoy driving while looking through Terminator Vision on my iPhone. I have an app that tells me the year, make and model of the vehicle I'm about to make contact with. Then I use my iGun application [youtube.com] to finish them off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by KingSkippus (799657) *

      Great! Just what we need! More ways people can walk around staring at a device in their hands while being utterly oblivious to their surroundings. And yet this is all about informing them of their surroundings. Oh, the irony...

      Sounds to me like a great AR app. You walk around with your iPhone in front of you, and periodically, a message flashes up that says something like, "Move, dumbass, you're about to hit something."

      • So my eyes, ears, and nose don't do that already?

        I'd be more apt to have the app recognize the face of the people around and discretely let me know what i am not perceiving already with my uber-human sensory organs. Like understand the turkey quotient of someone's flatulence, or the true emotion - as opposed to the deceiving portrayal of one - sneaking around in the salesmen inflections of speech that can not be perceived by the human ear.

        The real scary part about this effort is these ARE the tools t
        • So my eyes, ears, and nose don't do that already?

          "You damn kids with your iPhones and Androids. Back in my day, we had to actually use our eyes, ears, and nose to avoid walking into things or getting run over!

          Now get the hell of my lawn!"

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        I'd be more interested in hearing what the hell a 'nearest tube' is?? Are these internet tubes someone is trying to find with an iPhone?
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'm pretty sure that tube means subway station, thats what they call it in england. They also make sure to tell you to "MIND THE GAP", which means to look out for the space inbetween the train and the station, but for some reason people have started putting it on underwear.

    • Re:what we need (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:10PM (#29218175) Homepage
      I look at it somewhat differently: It's going to be hilarious.

      People holding up their iPhone's looking for a subway or resturant.
      People staring down at their phone texting somebody.
      People lying on the ground trying to get upskirt photos.
      People flailing their arms around in circles, hitting anyone in reach, trying to use body language whilst talking through a bluetooth headset.

      The rest of the world trying to take videos of all that and uploading them to YouTube.

      What ever happened to our jet packs?
    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      I use my Iphone-like device to "augment" my reality with auditory information received as if by magic from someone not in the same room for me, which is then transmitted directly into my ear. The device features voice-control, to allow me to respond to the other person merely by speaking.

      I haven't seen this on Slashdot yet - maybe we'll get a story when it's On Your Iphone.

  • With Apple's current attitude acting as a moderator for all apps and trying best not to anger anybody, I wonder how any of the above dreams will be realized. So someone makes an app for showing which restaurant has available seating. Next day restaurant sues apple for some privacy invasion crap. Next thing apple pulls app down.
  • It's like the slashdot tag system for your neighborhood! What could be better?

  • Impressive. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rhaban (987410) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:15PM (#29218231)

    Now iphones will have the same crappy apps android phones have had for months. totally worth the front page.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tyr_7BE (461429)

      It's news when something is invented that runs on a smart phone. And then it's news all over again when Apple copies it. I'll never understand that.

      • by zary (1563883)
        One word helped me understand: Fanboys Especially with the app store, the idea had already existed for a long time, but pretty much wasn't used. Somehow, when apple comes out with something innovative, all previous existences of the same idea are wiped from the collective puiblic's mind, much like 1984, but controlled by a corporation and not the government. Nokia had an app store for a long time, t-mobile had T-zones, and there were probably others that i dont know about, including nintendo's online store
        • by zary (1563883)
          Oh, sorry, i forgot one thing: people have made AR apps for java-enabled phones since before android. There's even a really fun tower defence that i play on my E71x
  • Already on Android? (Score:5, Informative)

    by abies (607076) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:17PM (#29218263)

    http://layar.com/press-release-layar-reality-browser-announces-global-launch-and-new-features-in-the-latest-release/ [layar.com]

    It seems that Android already got something from the next generation of AR applications (multi-topic, interactive). They hope to port it to iPhone soon. It looks to be considerably more advanced compared to what is given in original story.

  • by Flea of Pain (1577213) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:18PM (#29218285)
    I just whip out my phone and BAM! There's the nearest drug dealer. BAM! There's the nearest hooker! BAM! There's the cops, with a red outline so you know they are baddies. I think I could get used to this...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gnick (1211984)

      Actually, even though you might be a way from finding hookers and blow (I assume those apps would be invite only), there are already apps for identifying speed traps and DUI check-points. The cops (for some reason) have been whining about them.

      • If they're complaining about them maybe they should stop posting [edmontonpolice.ca] the locations.
        • I think they may be complaining more about the DUI ones than the speed trap ones. I'm sure it depends on locale, though.

          They post them in NL as well - mostly - and there's services on radio and on the web where you can get the locations that are spotted by other drivers, load them onto your TomTom, etc. etc. the cops don't really care much as it means that people -will- slow down in those areas... which would have been the general point anyway (not to make more moneys; if they wanted that, I can point the

          • by maxume (22995)

            I'm not sure the checkpoints are worth it (but that doesn't say anything regarding how I feel about traffic stops for errant driving).

      • (I assume those apps would be invite only)

        Given the rigors of the App Store approval process, there would have to be some kind of pretext to the app, like a "social AR friend locator." Perhaps then, from within the app's network, invite-only social networks could be built and expand, with users "recommending" other users to each other, then seeking them out. Users could post statuses, used in this case to say what they have in stock... Hey, real-life AR Dope Wars!

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      This would be pretty cool if it generated a wire frame box that changed in size in relation to how far away it was from you. The next step with this sort of software is to have it find 10 distinct points on the video feed, and keep the (whats the noun here? "targeted location"?) tube station, pizza shop or whatever in direct relation to the video, rather than having the lag of constantly polling the GPS + magnetic compass, leaving the targeted location lagging badly behind the video on a seperate layer whic

      • by S3D (745318)

        This would be pretty cool ... find 10 distinct points on the video feed, and keep the (whats the noun here? "targeted location"?) tube station, pizza shop or whatever in direct relation to the video, rather than having the lag of constantly polling the GPS + magnetic compass, leaving the targeted location lagging badly behind the video

        Actually what you are describing is the definition of augmented reality according to Azuma [wikipedia.org] - "registration in 3d"
        This GPS and compass thingie is kind of self-proclaimed A

  • Microsoft demonstrated a similar application at CES 2008, although they called it "software camera recognition" (Bill Gates in fact did the demo at the keynote). There are pictures at Engadget [engadget.com]

    Looks like Apple and the iPhone are beating them to the punch for RTM!

    SixD
  • memevision (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rarel (697734) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:25PM (#29218391) Homepage
    Frankly could we stop with this stupid "Terminator Vision" meme? I understand it's an easy simile to make for the masses but until we have our phone chips embedded in the brain, just looking at the stuff makes it clear as day that it's nowhere near as advanced as it sounds, it's just a stupid way to advertise the stuff...
    • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:31PM (#29218485)

      And anyway, who wants to be continuously reviewing the same 6502 Read/Write Track Sector assembly code over and over again?

    • What if we could bluetooth it to a display on the inside of your glasses? I know people that have the bluetooth aware sunglasses for audio, why not video as well? That might get me interested enough in the phone to buy one.
      • by GenP (686381)
        3Mbps [wikipedia.org] doesn't buy you a lot of video. You can just barely do 640x480x30FPS over USB2.0 if you JPEG it first.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Plekto (1018050)

      Frankly could we stop with this stupid "Terminator Vision" meme? I understand it's an easy simile to make for the masses but until we have our phone chips embedded in the brain, just looking at the stuff makes it clear as day that it's nowhere near as advanced as it sounds, it's just a stupid way to advertise the stuff...

      I agree somewhat, but it's not going to be long before you can get essentially an iPhone in a pair of sunglasses or a device that does this sort of information overlaying. Of course the fi

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:26PM (#29218401)

    I plan to write an app that shows you guard positions in a prison - then I simply send out cakes with iPhones baked in to inmates across the land, and wait for the $999 purchases to start rolling in.

    It brings Jailbreaking to a whole new level!

    • For a minute, I thought you were going to say "cakes with files baked in them" in the fashion of Monkey Island's cake that Guybrush gets from Otis...
    • by mjwx (966435)

      I plan to write an app that shows you guard positions in a prison - then I simply send out cakes with iPhones baked in to inmates across the land, and wait for the $999 purchases to start rolling in.

      Your plan is fail.

      Unless you can take payment in cigarettes.

  • I want an app that tells me in real time, how long the line is at the closes In n Out Burger, knows all the archane jargon to help me order my Double-Double(s) with grilled onions, and tells me exactly WHEN I should drive over to collect it. I want it smart enough to send me video of the hot, big chested chick with the clipboard, for when the line gets too long, and NOT send video when the ugly fat chick is out there sweating in the sun, baby!

    Oh, and I need it for a BLACKBERRY, fuckers.

    • by Minwee (522556)

      order my Double-Double(s) with grilled onions

      I'm hoping this is just a language barrier at work, but why would you want to order your coffee with two sugars, two creams and grilled onions in it?

      • by LanMan04 (790429)

        Double Double probably means 4 meat patties on the burger. Which is frightening. /american, but don't live within 1000 miles of an in-and-out

        • by Maniacal (12626)

          Actually, a double-double is just a double burger with 2 slices of cheese. You're describing the "Monster" which is 4x4. Not on the menu but they'll know what you mean. Oh, and grilled onions are a must.

      • Did the word BURGER escape you?

        For those of you who dont know what an In n Out Burger Double-Double is, it is simply the most delicious cheeseburger you can find for the money. I realize that 99 percent of the world does not live or work near an In n Out Burger location, but that is your unfortunate problem.

        • by Minwee (522556)
          Most people in the civilized world order their double-double at a doughnut shop. That doesn't mean it isn't coffee either.
      • by maxume (22995)

        The first hint that he wasn't ordering a coffee was that he was asking for something in it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Blackberry is for old people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:34PM (#29218527)

    What Apple and the new iPhone lets you do is to augmented reality what jumping from a high place is to flying.

    Apple still completely locks access to the video. So basically, it allows you to display something over the video, yay! But there is absoolutely no tracking possible, the information most of those AR applications use tends to mostly be limited to compass or GPS. The nearest subway application fore example just uses GPS and gyroscope information to print an arrow over your video, but it is as much AR as what the google maps application already provided. The video is just a ice animated background, but provides zero information, the application works EXACTLY the same way with your finger on the camera lens.

    More interesting tracking or "Terminator Vision" would require Apple to allow you to actually access the video data for any kind of post-processing treatment to occur, which they're still blocking so far. So if you want to see some augmented reality, i'd watch towards Android rather than Apple, whose SDK and appstore policies are starting to become more than a little tiresome.

    • You can't have non-trivial mobile video tracking in java - I mean anything more than unstable tracking of single rectangle. Android native code kit - NDK have some promise, but camera class access still not officially supported in NDK. As I understand you can still use it, unofficially, but you can have unofficial access to camera API in iPhone as well.
      • "[...] you can have unofficial access to camera API in iPhone as well."

        Unless you actually want to sell your App. When you submit it, you'll get the little note back from Apple saying that you cannot use undocumented APIs.

      • by sashako (768589)
        It's not possible with J2ME (I've tried last summer with N82 and failed exactly as you've described. But Android is different story. Now I can do complex tracker-less recognition once every second while simultaneously rendering 3D scene on top of camera output and processing user input with 20FPS. All in Android Java. Should be even better with NDK. P.S. Your tower defence game is great, I have it on my cell since it was released first :) http://vivifypicture.com/ [vivifypicture.com]
    • There are several APIs that I can't see any reason for Apple not to make public apart from simply wanting to get them right on the first try. Along with real-time bitmap data from the camera is the calendar. It's kind of silly that apps can't add an entry to your schedule right now, but I think it's only a matter of time until Apple has this stuff stable and ready to set loose with developers.

    • by tsm_sf (545316)
      Apple still completely locks access to the video. So basically, it allows you to display something over the video, yay! But there is absoolutely no tracking possible, the information most of those AR applications use tends to mostly be limited to compass or GPS.

      ARtoolkit on iPhone. Still unreleased I think, but it's starting to look good. IDK about the whole locked video stream deal... this seems to contradict your statement. Jailbreak?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M-oAmBDcZk [youtube.com]

      It seems like the
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:34PM (#29218535)

    SiGNS.

    Apple announced that they have patented a fully integrated Augmented Reality device for 2009, SiGNS.

    "SiGNS will revolutionize the way we live by displaying pertinent information to the use about a local area." claims technological wizzkids at Apple.

    SiGNS can be made from almost anything, opening potential for new and old businesses. Apple claims that creative individuals will be able to make their own SiGNS for free to advertise their own services, or to simple shout out to the world.

    Need money for drugs or hookers? A SiGN can tell the world.

    Businesses will be able to directly advertise to people in the local area. Users can see if stores are offering sales, look at local restaurants, even find bathrooms, tube stations, or police and medical help.

    SiGNS can easily be made multilingual. In fact, some signs can be made in such a way to be universal among users.

    "We think SiGNS are going to change your life"

    • SiGNS, SiGNS, everywhere are SiGNS. Fucking up the scenery, breaking my mind...

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      Apple claims that creative individuals will be able to make their own SiGNS for free

      Ah, you had me going until this bit - for free? Not for "only $99", which will then need Apple approval to see whether you're allowed to put up your SiGNS?

  • Computing power is not a problem anymore , what we need is an unobtrusive and decent resolution head mounted display. Until we have that these applications are nice and fun , no-matter the platform they run on , but they're really not all that useful. Maybe adapt one for a car windshield HUD. It's already possible to apply a semi reflecting foil to the windshield and have a screen beneath it project real time data on it.
  • The voyeur app (Score:2, Informative)

    Show me which of these girls in skirts isn't wearing underwear.

    Then, show me where to hide so I can take pics with my iPhone.

  • 'Augmented reality' has now replaced _ZIf1WelcomeOverlords as the cliche that'll get you punched in the face if you say it near me before I've had my coffee.

  • by Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @12:53PM (#29218803)

    "Terminator Vision" Is Here For the iPhone

    "The BBC is reporting that so-called augmented reality has arrived -- in the UK at least. From the article: 'Via the video function of a mobile phone's camera it is now possible to combine a regular pictorial view with added data from the internet just as the fictional Terminator was able to overlay its view of the world with vital information about its surroundings. For example, UK-firm Acrossair has launched an application for the iPhone which allows Londoners to find their nearest tube station using their iPhone.' The page features an impressive video demonstrating AR in action."

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/08/11/1442239 [slashdot.org]

    You're EDITORS! So start EDITING!

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:11PM (#29219051) Homepage

    People on phones are bad enough, but I've noticed that a significant fraction of young kids, mostly boys, seem to have zero situational awareness outside of a wedge about 90 degrees wide in front of them.

    I notice this because I have horses. Parents are always bringing kids to horse barns. Usually, the girls are interested in the horses, and the boys would rather be playing a video game. Some have portable games with them. In a busy, working stable, there are people leading and riding horses all over the place. Occasionally there's a loose horse (not a big deal; they'll head for their friends or food). Some awareness of large, moving, three quarter ton animals is needed to survive, or at least not to tie up traffic. I've had kids not notice when a horse came up behind them, clicking steel shoes on cement. I've seen horses, being careful of the kids, trying to get them to move out of the way. Some kids don't notice a horse breathing down their neck, literally. (To a horse, breathing down your neck is a polite hello. A nudge with the nose from behind is a demand for attention comparable to yelling at someone. People who still don't get it will usually be shouldered aside if the horse really wants to get through.)

    How will these kids ever survive a bad neighborhood or heavy traffic? Will they need a heads-up display with a tail warning system, like fighter aircraft?

    • by rgviza (1303161)

      I've seen adults with the same problem. I think you mean "People" from planet oblivious. I ride my bike in the park for exercise. I had one guy that was walking toward me, facing me turn right into my bike. Then there are the crowds that take up the entire 12 foot wide path walking side by side towards you, and can't give you 2 feet to get by. Then at the last second they are surprised and jump out of the way.

      Based on personal experience, at least 30% of people are dangerously oblivious.

      Sorry but I pay taxe

      • by chochos (700687)

        Sadly, some great thinkers would die off as well, presumably well before they could reproduce.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      It's a feature, not a bug - the parents have just fitted their children with a more technological version of blinkers.

    • by maxume (22995)

      I am a reasonably solid 6 feet 210 pounds. It is a regular feature of crowds that I have to adjust to avoid knocking puny people around. It has nothing to do with them being kids or playing video games, not paying attention is simply a feature of many people.

  • I've had an app for a while that I use sometimes that provides an augmented reality experience; it's called "RJDJ Album" and it's pretty cool in that you fire it up and put on your headphones, and it's got several different "tracks" which are actually different audio filters and effects set up in a way to provide extremely cool, rhythmic and interesting "music" out of whatever the microphone picks up.

    It may sound like something only a stoner would love, and it's definitely got that going for it - but it act

  • If "Nearest Tube" told me where the closest TV set was I would buy it in a second.

  • Play captions/subtitles while in a movie theatre. Speech to text for the hearing impaired. Camera zoom for those with bad eyes.
  • Imagine all the possibilities for hacking this AR system can provide!! How about sending everyone in the area to the same restaurant by showing them empty seats ? How about sending people in the wrong buses ?what about leading people to a dark corner of the street so they can be mugged ? The security questions that this can raise are enormous !
  • by 4D6963 (933028)

    You know what would be a cool? An augmented reality iPhone app for snipers that detects the source of gunfires (possibly from the data given from an already existing such system) and overlays them.

    This being said, it now seems obvious that this augmented reality thing is going to get big within the next few years. Regular GPS on your phone is nice, but sometimes when you reach your destination you can't actually see where you're supposed to go. Things like AR would make it more obvious. I also can't wait

  • This reminds me of the VR stuff that Gibson was talking about in Spook Country. Basically, combining GPS and VR, "artists" are able to create "channels" that "augment reality" so that you can see something interesting, depending on where you were. For example, one "artist" created a work that showed River Phoenix face down where he died that you could only see standing in front of the door to that club. It seems kind of cool to me, though obviously fraught with problems.
  • reality distortion field.

  • Is a tube station??
  • I've been augmenting reality for years with my mobile phone--just dropping it down the front of my shorts. For an added bonus, set your ring to vibrate. Ah, for the days of the old brick phone.
  • This palm-based augmented reality game has been out for many years (since early 2007)

    http://www.toyspring.com/arcade/index.php [toyspring.com]

  • If this takes off then I expect virtual display headsets like in the link below will become very popular...

    http://www.gizmag.com/golden-i-headset/11666/

    I cant really see this being usable without something like this..

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