Augmented Reality is the term used to define direct or indirect vision in a real world physical environment and whose elements combine with virtual elements to create a mixed reality in real time. It is created by a series of devices that add virtual information to the already existent physical information. This is the main difference between AR and virtual reality, as it doesn’t substitute physical reality but it superimposes computer data onto the real world.
We’ve all seen some futuristic movie in which the main character has bionic eyes and glasses that allow them to see a series of data apart from the real world. Perhaps the best of them are Terminator, Robocop, and Iron Man, because all of them were able to recognize and analyze their surrounding environment or even the people around them, like in Terminator 2: “I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle…”
Currently you can use a series of apps on your Android device that, combined with the integrated camera, compass, and GPS, will allow you to view the world from a new perspective. We have divided the apps into the following two main categories according to how they were designed to be used: Interactive Information, and Entertainment and Social Applications.
When we quoted Terminator, we were referring to programs such as Wikitude World Browser, but with the improvement of not having to see everything in red color with an MS-DOS writing style. The app is based on your location and takes information from Wikipedia and Qype. You can search more than 350,000 places of interest throughout the entire planet simply by using the camera and GPS on your phone.
You can find several similar apps with the same concept as Wikitude World Browser, such as Satellite AR and SightSpaceStation AR, which will show you what is floating all around the planet by aiming the camera of your Android phone at the sky or using its large variety of astronomical maps that will provide you with all the astronomical information that you need in any situation, just like Star Chart and Google Sky Map.
Weather Reality allows you to explore the weather around you also by using your phone’s camera. You can look up current conditions, real time radar, and weather alerts in addition to always being shown the trajectory of the sun and moon. You can even share images with specific information about the weather on your favorite social networks.
Entertainment and Social Applications
By adding the potential of social networks to the same idea of the previous applications, apps such as Tagwhat and Mixare are born, they allow you to locate friends who are online, and view updates from several social networks superimposed on the image you receive on your camera. One thing that practically all these social apps have in common is the use of the social network Foursquare, given that its specific function is location.
Taking a step beyond social networks, we find apps such as FriendsRadar, which, apart from being a GoogleTalk chat client, indicates on a map where your friends are, something similar to Orwell’s Big Brother, but in a pocket version.
When looking for games you will find options like Sky Siege and DroidShooting, which allow you to play a FPS using your actual environment, or even multiplayer games that use your GPS to create an alternative reality on the same street you are on, like in Parallel Kingdom and Zombies, Run!
However, undoubtedly I will stick will the augmented reality concept games that I have seen, such as ARhrrrrr! and Rock’Em Sock’Em, which use a special board to create a 3D environment while using your phone as the controller and viewfinder.