Augmented Reality

The Buzz Nearby: Why You May Never Be Much Of A Mayor On Foursquare

A rapid convergence is taking place between the web and reality. The artificial division between the virtual and the real is starting to dissolve, as various applications and technologies combine to stitch together interfaces and activities that together dissolve the barriers between the web and our material world.

Augmented Reality is a vivid depiction of how this may manifest a few months from now, however in the present, services like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Google Buzz are helping to make it a reality. In contrast to AR, which I suspect most people still find a bit terrifying, the current batch of location based services have basic interfaces, usually connected to maps, which we're all relatively familiar with.

In fact there's something kind of seductive to using maps as an interface to this emerging convergent world where our location and surroundings are rich with information and social ties.

Is it an indication that we're lost and looking to find our way? Or the inverse, that we know where we are, and we wish everyone else to know as well?

The motivations for using social media and sharing one's location are not always as obvious as they may seem. Critics often slip into absolute terms when assessing how location based services can and will be used, however to fully understand their impact and potential, it is important to immerse oneself in the experience.

Speeding Towards Augmented Reality in the Automobile

Augmented Reality is the newest frontier in car technology and General Motors is trying to bring it to the masses.

What is Augmented Reality you ask? It's a rapidly emerging field that combines information gleaned from the web and super-imposes it on top of "reality". From a technical perspective it employs GPS technology to determine where you are, and then uses cameras and software to engage in pattern recognition using the objects or landmarks around you.

Augmented Reality is largely being driven by the mobile industry, and the proliferation of smart phones, but as a concept is finding traction in all sorts of areas, whether they be at home with your web cam, or with glasses, or contact lenses.

As you drive your car, the AR system would be constantly scanning your surroundings, and co-relating that info with the GPS, to create a new kind of interface via your windshield.

This might be used for safety purposes, like recognizing when a hazard approaches, or anticipating an accident, or detecting a speed trap ahead, and gives you instructions on the windshield to slow down or stop, or maybe avert that nasty pot hole ahead.

Technology Trends for 2010

As another year comes to a close I thought I'd share some brief thoughts on what I anticipate for the world of technology in 2010:

The Might of Mobile

Mobile technology will continue to be a dominant trend as smart phones go from being tools for professionals, to devices that just about everyone has or wants.

A lot of the growth in the mobile sector is driven by applications. A related platform that I think will thrive in 2010 is Augmented Reality (o/k/a AR).

Augmented Reality is an effort to bring the qualities of the web to the physical world by literally adding a layer of hypertext on top of our material reality. Often described and associated with the concept of the "Internet of Things", the idea is to unlock web-based information associated with each object or location.

As a concept AR has been receiving a considerable amount of attention and investment. The recent announcement of advertising in AR will have a powerful and also normative effect.

In this regard, "hyper-local" advertising will be a big trend in 2010, and it will be driven by mobile and AR applications. This will be a way that Twitter starts to cash in, for example, bu having localized ads that target people in particular cities or neighbourhoods. If you don't want to be exposed to these ads, you'll be able to pay a premium and get Twitter with spam filters.

Tablet Computing

I'm kind of excited about the (re)arrival of tablet computers. Apple has one coming out in the spring, Google is rumoured to have one out in early summer, and I've been playing with Nokia's N900, which calls itself a tablet.

What excites me is the combination of mobility with traditional computational power and abilities. On the one hand, it will further drive the development of mobile applications, with the tablets marketed and treated like mobile devices. On the other, they enable a truly rich multimedia experience with their expanded touch screens and user interfaces.

One of their impacts will be to continue to accelerate the rate of technological change as evolution happens faster and companies push out new products and upgrades to keep up.