iPhone Virtual Reality

by Braden Kelley

Real and virtual worlds are about to collide in a big way.

In September with the expected release of iPhone OS 3.1, some pretty amazing augmented reality applications will begin appearing for the iPhone 3GS. These applications overlay useful info on your view of the real-world using the iPhone’s camera. The new crop of augmented reality applications due in September make use of common features like an internet connection and GPS, but because they also utilize a compass, only users of the new iPhone 3GS will be able to install them.

There are several cool demos floating around which I have shared below, but these applications are using unpublished APIs which prevent them from being allowed on the App Store. Apple, however, told one developer that the tools necessary would become available in the pending iPhone OS 3.1.

Here is an application that shows the closest subway stations and how to get to them:

But, my favorite is this concept of an application that proposes to use facial recognition to overlay people’s social networking profiles when the application is engaged. I hope they succeed in creating a working real world application based on this concept:

Finally, the innovations in augmented reality will not be restricted to the iPhone 3GS. A new augmented reality app called Layar is described as the world’s first mobile augmented reality browser. The Layar browser currently runs on Google Android devices and shows you what is around you by displaying realtime digital information on top of reality through the camera of the mobile phone. Just flip through the directory to find ATM’s, bars, houses for sale, hotels and other useful real world items around you.

While Layar is currently available only for Android devices, the developers are working hard on porting it to other platforms (read iPhone 3GS).

This video from the developer shows it running a real estate application:

What other cool applications can you imagine using this techology to augment the real world?

Braden Kelley is the editor of Blogging Innovation and founder of Business Strategy Innovation, a consultancy focusing on innovation and marketing strategy. Braden is also @innovate on Twitter.

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