Mobile Augmented Reality on the Fly
Augmented reality may be one to watch in 2010, but the possibilities it offers are still young. I’ve seen apps that watch where you are and offer directions, point you to the nearest bus stop, or show you coupons or reviews for the restaurants you’re near. What I want is the ability to combine resources that make sense to me into a singular tool on my mobile device. And I want to be able to set it up quickly and easily, customizing my information for specific situations.
This is what I’m looking for in augmented reality on the fly:
Applications need to be dead easy for laymen to compile and distribute.
I’m going to say that we’ve reached the point where most internet users with average technological intelligence and sufficient motivation can figure out how to start a blog, set up Tumblr or Posterous, create a Facebook profile, or start using Twitter if they desire. The truly intrepid may take it upon themselves to create resources for other people: organize lists of Twitter users, post reviews on Google or Yelp, or publish content to their social service of choice. Can they quickly create a highly customized iPhone app if they want? Not as easily. Mobile apps or mobile-optimized sites are enticing, but things like coding knowledge and app store approval are still hurdles. The mobile world hasn’t reached the level where anyone with a reason and some free time can easily pull together a new app and send it off to their friends and followers in 30 minutes or less.
I want quick and easy access to different resources, all in one place.
I’m at SXSW right now, and this is my first time in Austin. A lot of people have dedicated some time and energy to compile their knowledge into helpful guides and resources for people like me. I’ve come across a great array of survival guides, party lists, and maps or blogs on Austin top restaurants, vegetarian eating options, and best BBQ spots. These resources are split between posts, maps, and Twitter. If I want to check out restaurant reviews, I can call up Yelp, and if I’m standing around lost, I’m going to turn to Google maps. That’s a lot of information to cull through when I’m on a street corner wondering where to get lunch. I may have moved beyond carrying around a physical guide book and the weight of the printed page, but it would still be nice to have all my resources easily accessible in one place – one singular place within my phone.
Bring different layers of information together in one application, and let it be customizable.
What if the maps of food spots and blogs on top eats could be combined into one resource? When augmented reality and mobile technology mature, I hope they reach the point where users can quickly and easily combine information from different locations to create unique on-the-fly resources. I want an app where the guides and reviews I’ve been seeing can be collected altogether. There’s a map, so the restaurant and party locations are all charted. I can choose a point and get information on that spot from Yelp, or from the bloggers who’ve made their own recommendations. Pictures that people upload to their posts are all there too, if I want to check them out. The app knows where I am (if I want it to), so when I’m standing on a street corner, I’m only a few clicks away from figuring out where the nearest cafe is and getting directions. If the app wants to watch where I’m walking and offer me tips or reviews as I go, that’s fine too. Essentially, I want the information that bloggers and social media mavens put together all easily complied into a layered app on my phone or ipod. I imagine easily being able to flip back and forth between maps, reviews, pictures, and posts – each a different layer in an application that can be compiled by a creator and customized by the user. I never need to switch to a second app because I can see everything I’m looking for within one application. And I imagine the app being incredibly easy for people to put together.
Parts and pieces of this are already available and accessible. But I’m looking for a utility that is dead simple to create, intuitive to use, and easy to quickly make accessible to anyone. Blogs aren’t so hard for most people to create, even when someone is starting out new. When augmented reality tools and resources become as easy to put together as a blog post is to write, I think we’ll have reached an exciting level of mobile information creation.