10 Augmented Reality Apps You Need to Know About

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10 Augmented Reality Apps You Need to Know About

Augmented reality (AR) is an emerging field of technology that blends real-world views with virtual reality. You can also think of it as mixed reality. Research firms such as Gartner predict big things for the application development market from AR. The respected blog ReadWriteWeb is leading the coverage of AR applications here. What does AR look like? Picture being on a city street and you want to know what stores exist around you. You look through the viewfinder of the live camera in your iPhone and see a layer on top of the camera view that shows you what restaurants and other shops are in the area, as well as information on those businesses. That's AR at work. Here are 10 great AR apps showing what they can do for you.

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No Title

Local search provider Yelp has enabled a Monocle feature in its iPhone application. iPhone 3GS users can shake their phone three times (though it seems to take a lot more than that) to activate the Monocle feature, which will overlay Yelp listings on the live camera view. Great for when users are in a foreign city. Thanks to Josh Bancroft for the screenshot.

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Wikitude World Browser

Why should iPhone users have all of the fun? From Mobilizy, the Wikitude World Browser lets users of the Android G1, G2 and myTouch 3G smartphones see data about their surroundings, nearby landmarks and other locations by overlaying information on the real-time camera view of a smartphone. Wikitude this month also launched an API to let programmers write AR applications.

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Layar Reality Browser

Another AR browser, Layar leverages content from Flickr, Yelp, Wikipedia, Google and other sites to deliver to users a richer experience on their Android smartphones. Layar 2.1 lets users send AR layers and screenshots of layers to friends.

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Metro Paris Subway

From Presselite, Metro Paris Subway 3.0 for the Apple iPhone 3GS includes an AR layer that lets users view the nearest subway stations and points of interest located at a distance less than 1 kilometer away.

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London Bus iPhone

Presselite later released an AR app for the London Bus app for the iPhone, which is a detailed London travel guide combined with the official London Buses map.

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Discover Anywhere Mobile

Paris and London aren't the only major cities to get the AR treatment. Discover Anywhere Mobile wrote an iPhone app that gives AR views of subway, train and airport data for 33 cities across North America. The AR serves location information floating on the video screen above stops, on a map or as a listing, sorted alphabetically or by distance.

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Nokia AR Glasses

As covered by ReadWriteWeb here, Nokia posted a video of its vision of AR on YouTube. This screenshot is actually the view through a pair of AR glasses a woman is using to surf the Web to select music and e-mail her beau. How is she doing this? With her eyeballs! This is super cool.

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Coming this month when the iPhone 3GS 3.1 operating system is released from Apple, RobotVision leverages Microsoft Bing's local search capability to let users search for locations, restaurants and other points of interest. The app does use Google Maps instead of Bing Maps.

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New York Nearest Subway

AcrossAir's app shows iPhone 3GS users just what the app's name promises: closest subway stations to the iPhone video for users looking for stops in the Big Apple. When you load the app and hold the phone flat, all 33 lines of the New York Subway are displayed in colored arrows. By tilting the phone upward, you will see the nearest stations, where they are in relation to your location, how many miles away they are and what lines they are on.

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Augmented Reality in a Contact Lens

Students at the University of Washington are embedding LEDs into contact lenses. Whoa. UWash Associate Professor Babak Amir Parviz likens the capability to the visual prowess of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in the "Terminator" movies; the cyborg sees real-time data superimposed over the objects and scenes he sees.