Just like Arnie

Cyborg technology has landed. And if, like FHM, you grew up watching the Terminator movies half crapping yourself, half envying Arnie’s ability to scan a landscape while being fed data, so has one of your childhood dreams. Augmented reality (AR) software for mobiles is about to transform the way you see, interact with and share information about your surroundings.

Accelerated learning

Whereas ‘virtual reality’ (the one with the comically oversized headgear first heralded by Tomorrow’s World) means navigating through computer-generated environments, AR overlays information onto the realworld picture provided by your mobile. Take, for example, Acrossair’s Nearest Tube application. Using an iPhone’s GPS and accelerometer, you can point the phone at the ground in London to see which Tube lines are beneath you, displayed in coloured arrows. Tilt the phone up to see where and how far away the nearest station is. Clever? Certainly, and it’s just the start.

4th dimension

Imagine a services menu similar in look and functionality to an iTunes album coverflow. Restaurants, cinemas, pubs, clubs, theatres and car parks all at your disposal. Simply tap what it is that you’re after and off you go. But, with databases relaying real-time info, you won’t just be able to seewhere the car park is, but also how many spaces are free. Ravi Damani, Director of Acrossair, explains: “It’s a three-dimensional interface, so the information looks like it’s in the space rather than stuck on top of it. When people see it, they’re just blown away.”

 

And it won’t just be useful for finding the nearest McDonald’s. It will generate a new world of location-based community content. If your Facebook or Twitter feeds currently deliver information as it’s posted, consider a feed triggered by location. Point your phone at a bar to read reviews, get real-time tweets or check dating profiles.

The future

Currently the technology only works on the iPhone 3GS and using GPS, but optical and radio-frequency recognition aren’t far off. Imagine you’re at Wembley and Lampard jogs over to take a throw-in, a chip in his boot is recognised by your phone, which flashes up his in-game stats, just as the bloke behind launches a barrage of obscenities. “Actually, he’s got a 97% pass completion rate this half,” you quip. It’s coming.

The Acrossair Browser is available for free at the App Store from October