Augment your reality

16 Oct 2008

Ever since location became a hot mobile app, mobile tech companies have been looking at the concept of 'augmented reality' (AR), in which digital info is overlaid on the real world. PNDs with digital maps are an early and simple version of this, but the next step is to bring AR to cell phones.

Motorola's Mobile Augmented Reality Messaging System (MARMS) proposes to do just this by combining GPS, sensors and social networking. For example, a user could take a picture of a restaurant interior, send it to a server, and get the picture back with computer-generated objects pasted into it that serve as visual references to notes, comments and links left by previous patrons who also happen to be on, say, your Facebook friends list. The user could then create and share his notes.

According to Discover, MARMS uses GPS as well as additional sensors in the handset to determine which way the cell phone's camera is pointing when it takes a photograph. The location and orientation data are sent, along with the image, to a central server. The central server then checks through its catalog of virtual objects for any that are associated with the location photographed by the phone.

Motorola says a basic version of the MARMS system could be available by 2010.

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