If you’re the kind of tech-minded traveler who rushed to replace your guidebooks with podcast tours, and erased your podcasts to make room for iPhone travel apps, then it’s time to start getting excited about the newest in travel technology: augmented reality.
Start-up company Layar is preparing to introduce the world’s first augmented reality browsera sort of virtual guidebook that projects data onto the world in front of you. The technology is currently getting a test run in Amsterdam, where people can download a free Layar application to their smartphones. Then, holding the phone up in front of you, you’re shown information about restaurants and ATMs in your sightline, projected right onto the screen.
It’s the same concept utilized in Google Earth layers, except instead of looking at satellite imagery on your computer or handheld device, you’re looking at a real-time photo of what’s directly in front of you, with updated information projected onto what you can see.
So theoretically, the days of standing on a foreign street corner and embarrassingly flipping through your map or guidebook in a vain attempt to figure out which way is which could be gone, because directions and points of interest will be plotted out on a real-time photo of what’s right in front of you, from your current perspective. Layar promises to bring the technology to the US, Britain, and Germany later this year; check out their demo video above.