Mobile phones augmenting reality


The Nokia research team has demonstrated a prototype phone equipped with MARA software and the appropriate hardware: a global positioning system (GPS), an accelerometer, and a compass. The souped-up phone is able to identify restaurants, hotels, and landmarks and provide Web links and basic information about these objects on the phone’s screen. In addition, says David Murphy, an engineer at Nokia Research Center, in Helsinki, Finland, who works on the project, the system can also be used to find nearby friends who have phones with GPS and the appropriate software.

The field of augmented reality, in which supplementary information from a computer or the Internet is overlaid onto the real world, has been the topic of science fiction and serious academic and military study for years. Historically, augmented-reality systems have required small backpacks with computing and networking hardware that stream information onto a visual display. But in recent years, researchers have been experimenting with more consumer-friendly ways to augment reality.

Mobile phones, in particular, are an appealing gateway to the virtual world. Their computing capabilities have increased substantially, and a growing number are GPS-enabled and can access high-speed data networks.

Click here for the full article, and here for the Nokia Research Centre’s page on Mobile Augmented Reality Applications.

The potential of such research to create devices that can support situation awareness, the understanding of a locale (important in Online Dispute Resolution) or just as a handy mobile phone based walking guide to a foreign city or region is fascinating.

3 thoughts on “Mobile phones augmenting reality

  1. This can actually be built in a cheap fashion with off-the shelf components. I built once a something similar with a tablet,a webcam 2 acccelerometers, and a digital compass (most from…what an addiction) and lots of duck tape.

    Thinking about my cable/sensor jumble, the small form factor is what makes the Nokia solution elegant.

    I think it holds a lot of potential! The best demo I’ve seen of this comes from the Squid Labs folks ( with what they called Magic Window. Theirs had a faster reaction time than mine, if I had to guess, because they were using some solid state gyro instead of a compass for the horizontal rotation aspect (my compass had a 1 second lag so you…moved..the…

    I agree that maybe this + things like 3DVia or Sketchup can have big impact – different impact too- than second life.

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