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How Augmented Reality Browsers Stack Up For Navigating London 32

Posted by timothy
from the you-are-where dept.
We've mentioned the tantalizing possibilities of augmented reality here several times, including Microsoft's stab (using scene recognition) as an information overlay for cell phones, and some display technologies that could make a Terminator-style information overlay on the real world possible without even looking down at a screen, including both glasses with microdisplays and contact lenses. An anonymous reader points to this two-part review of several cell phone apps, in which the writer has "tested several mobile augmented reality browsers and their ability to find places to eat and function as a tourist guide by identifying tourist attractions in London," writing, "This is the first review I have seen where all the browsers have been compared together; what's interesting is all the browsers use different data sources, and so either miss popular locations or give the wrong location."
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How Augmented Reality Browsers Stack Up For Navigating London

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  • Hrmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by acehole (174372) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @05:45AM (#30192098) Homepage

    So I should take an extra pair of boots, clothes and a spare motorcycle incase a naked guy walks into the same bar I'm in at the time then?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JustOK (667959)

      don't forget your towel.

  • by chazchaz101 (871891) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @06:10AM (#30192178)
    The fact that the review ends with "it’s sometimes easier to find the object on the map view first, that way when you switch the camera view it’s selected and saves you searching around." is a clear sign that so called augmented reality really isn't there when it comes to its primary promised benefit of making information about one's location trivially easy to access.
    • by Fred_A (10934) <fred&fredshome,org> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @08:08AM (#30192516) Homepage

      The fact that the review ends with "it’s sometimes easier to find the object on the map view first, that way when you switch the camera view it’s selected and saves you searching around." is a clear sign that so called augmented reality really isn't there when it comes to its primary promised benefit of making information about one's location trivially easy to access.

      Or you could just get "Lonely Planet London" (or whatever), save on roaming fees and have all of the data available at the flip of a page without ever worrying about the battery charge or looking like a dork (although your cover might be blown and you might be flagged as a tourist).

      • (although your cover might be blown and you might be flagged as a tourist).

        Which wouldn't happen if you were just wandering around with a confused look on your face, taking video of your surroundings on a smartphone.

    • by b4upoo (166390)

      Augmented reality will be a huge success but the one area in which it may have problems is in navigation of streets. Data will have to be constantly refreshed. Imagine failing to see that the city has changed a street to one way because your data is a day out date.

  • Greed Strikes again! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @06:16AM (#30192198)

    "This is the first review I have seen where all the browsers have been compared together; what's interesting is all the browsers use different data sources, and so either miss popular locations or give the wrong location."

    Obviously. This is what happens when a bunch of separate teams all determined to own ALL the pie reach for it at the same time. Everyone gets a part but they also all leave some filling behind in the pan in the rush.

    Imagine how much more complete the picture would be if the children all cooperated and worked together on the database content, developed the communication protocols for that database together, and gave each other free license to use them. Then differentiated themselves from the competition with the interface, hardware (if applicable), price, etc.

    • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @07:06AM (#30192332) Homepage
      Great idea. So instead of letting them fight it out by trying to top each other with features, they can spend all of their time squabbling due to different design philosophies and politics.

      The technology is immature, of course it's rather worthless in its present state. Of what use is a 3-year-old?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SeaFox (739806)

        Go back and read what I said again.

        The interface and features were where they would be competing on. It's the basic listings of stuff and the communication method to this information that would be shared. Something as simple as "where is this business actually located" or even "does it really exist" are not things that should vary from company to company. If they want to cross-reference to their own personal listings of reviews for restaurant x or a movie ticket purchasing portal for theater y they can stil

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
          I've done the same thing myself, a database of venues that was then published. Listings are not easy and keeping them current is a constant struggle. I tell you what, after I did all that work tracking down names, addresses, verifying the info, removing venues that closed, adding new ones, I don't want anyone taking my hard work and applying it to their product. Fuck them, they can pay me. A lot. Would it be nice if everyone cooperated and shared and it was caring time all day long? Sure. Is it going
          • by hanabal (717731)

            imagine that, businesses working for the greater good of society instead of their own back pocket. how horrible and selfish to even think about it.

          • by SeaFox (739806) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @08:37AM (#30192588)

            Listings are not easy and keeping them current is a constant struggle. I tell you what, after I did all that work tracking down names, addresses, verifying the info, removing venues that closed, adding new ones, I don't want anyone taking my hard work and applying it to their product. Fuck them, they can pay me.

            Have you considered that "paying" isn't always done with money? It can be done with an exchange of information instead. Kind of like how the internet backbone networks have peering agreements with each other rather than asking each other to pay for the data they transfer by the GB.

            You're not thinking about what would benefit the businesses. You're thinking about a scenario that would benefit you. Pretty selfish for a guy advocating communalism and cooperation over the survival of the fittest.

            Each business would require less resources to keep their information up to date if they weren't all duplicating each other's work on the same geographic area. Or even if they did, the info would be more up to date since multiple groups would be doing occasional verification of the info.

            Yeah, this wouldn't benefit businesses at all...

          • by Mathinker (909784)

            I've done the same thing myself writing a lot of code. Debugging was not easy and keeping it current is a constant struggle. I tell you what, after I did all that work tracking down bugs, doing QA, removing obsolete features, adding new ones, I don't want anyone taking my hard work and applying it to their product. Fuck them, they can pay me. A lot. Would it be nice if everyone cooperated and shared and it was caring time all day long? Sure. Is it going to happen? No.

            Yet some businesses, in certain circumstances, believe it is beneficial to them to publish their work as open-source. You should make a better argument than "in my personal case I didn't think it was worthwhile". It's obvious in your case that there wasn't any upside to you. Wouldn't you have reconsidered sharing your data with someone who had the capability of publishing in a way you couldn't (easily, at least; perhaps, say, on the iPhone?) and having him share profits with you?

            The cooperation proposed by

    • by jamesh (87723)

      pie

      A pie analogy? What is this world coming to.

      • by Cryacin (657549)

        pie

        A pie analogy? What is this world coming to.

        Exactly. It should be hundred of people jumping into the same car. In they end they all look like clowns!

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      You first - let's have actions, not words. Start a database with such information, with the information freely available for these companies to use. If they're really "children" compared to you, this should be no trouble, right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Marcika (1003625)

      Imagine how much more complete the picture would be if the children all cooperated and worked together on the database content, developed the communication protocols for that database together, and gave each other free license to use them. Then differentiated themselves from the competition with the interface, hardware (if applicable), price, etc.

      As far as I understand, most of these gizmos use the geolocation data from Wikipedia for their services -- so people already cooperate on the content. (And give it to everyone for free, too!) The crappiness of these apps just demonstrate that each of them is bad at parsing the WP database in its own way (compare for instance Google Maps with the Wikipedia layer enabled - it is much better).

  • It's an interesting test looking for something you know, but you do have to be careful extrapolating the quality of the data from some edge cases. For those who don't know London well, Barkingside is an eastern suburb about 15 miles from the centre, where a lot of the original "East Enders" moved after the war. If you did a similar test for New York you'd be doing something out past Newark NJ. It's not exactly where you'd start your mapping effort.
  • Nice reviews. It made me smile when he said that some of the locations were up to 1.5km/1 mile out - pretty useless for a tourist then (apart from the ones who are locals and also experts on how GPS works). Quite funny when he was pointing at such obvious things as HMS Belfast and St. Pauls Cathedral and the systems weren't finding them. Early days I guess, come back in five years. I suppose the systems are busy filling in the data points that are paying them, e.g. commercial companies that have struck up a

    • It might be nice if, discreetly placed around locations of interest (tourist signs, shop signs), there were some of the 3d barcodes that Android phones use. This would make it much easier for the phone to locate itself, and also give you an id for database lookup.
      • Yes, I think that should a great way to improve this kind of devices. And a colored Shotcode [wikipedia.org] could be nicely fitted in information posters and such. It can only store 40bits, but that gives more than 4 billion id's, and it could even be associated with its country.

  • London's easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @05:00PM (#30196272)
    A wallet card with "Look RIGHT before crossing" and "Mind the gap" should suffice.
  • Or you could, you know, just ask a taxi driver. A black cab driver that is (unless it's south of the river after 10pm), not a minicab driver - they don't know where anything is.

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