In The West Wing, Chief of Staff Leo McGarry once remarked “where’s my jet pack?” when referring to the advancements of technology in his lifetime. In one sense, he’s right to remark. But technology has come remarkably far in the past number of decades, especially for the end consumer.
One area where it has excelled is in the concept of augmented reality. To ‘augment’ something means, in cruder terms, to increase it. And one of the ways to increase reality is to increase the information that we have about reality – hence the aforementioned term. The iPhone’s GPS-capable hardware and internet data connection means that it is possible to actually hold up your iPhone and see information about your surroundings, with an overlay of reality. Pretty impressive.
That’s what Wikitude World Browser for iPhone does. As one of the first augmented reality browsers available, it does exactly what it should do. Just hold your iPhone up and have what is, in essence, wikipedia for reality at your fingertips. To top it off, the application is free to download.
WWB has just been updated to version 2.4 on the iTunes App Store, bringing with it a number of new features and enhanced integration. For example, a point of interest like a restaurant can now be viewed in more detail, with telephone numbers provided so that you can call ahead for a reservation. In addition, upgrades to overall speed make the application easier to use, and quicker navigation exists due to a new tab bar. The points of interest are wide and varied, with information from sources including Wikipedia, YouTube, Hertz Car Rental, Flickr, Foursquare and Google Local. The developers note that “there are around 500 worlds [augmented reality mapped areas] with 110 billion point of interests available” to date, with those numbers increasing as the days go by. One additional feature 2.4 includes allows you to search for specific places in all augmented reality mapped areas, rather than just a specific one that you might be in or near to.
Augmented reality is a massive technological step forward – imagine Google Streetview with all the additional information that you’ll need. It’s technology of the future available for consumer devices today. And with Wikitude, it’s free.
[Image courtesy of Wikitude]