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Heyremember back in 2009 when augmented reality seemed so cool? Like, whoa, we're all going to use our phones' augmented reality apps to find the nearest subway station, or read Wiki articles on nearby landmarks.
Sure, that was fun for a while, but those apps eat up battery life and are awkward to use in sunny, outdoor situations (not to mention how the dorkitude level of holding a phone out in front of you equals bluetooth earpiece wearing).
Well, our buddies at CN Traveler care to argue, as they've discovered a rash of new augmented reality travel apps worth a download. They seem to have forgotten our new favorite, London's Streetmuseum, but Google's Search App seems particularly good for the needs of 2014.
Animals / Augmented Reality / Travel Technology / Travel Tech / Zoo Travel / Green Travel / Cute Travel / Japan / Japan Travel / → All Tags
As is well known and widely acknowledged, Japan is a land of crazy. The plain assertion doesn't really require any proof, but if it did there are entire websites devoted to the insanity that pervades the Land of the Rising Sun. Even their zoos and aquariums are batshit, allowing you to do everything from shake hands with otters to watch Santa Claus play with dolphins.
Somewhere in between shaking otters hands and Santa Claud on a dolphin, there's this very cute bit of travel advertising from Japan's Sunshine Aquarium. The tourist attraction is kind of a hike from the nearest station, and aquarium officials wanted to make sure people could find it. The solution? An augmented reality app where penguins guide tourists along the right path. Because Japan, of course.
Augmented reality is neat and everything, allowing you to hold up a digital screen and see a virtual layer on top of boring old regular reality. In the travel world, you can point your cell phone at the sky and see what flights are passing overhead. You can point it at a tourist attraction and get Lonely Planet readouts. Or you can stand in the middle of a town square and rotate your phone, and eBay deals will pop up as the camera moves across buildings and stores.
But having to hold up a screen can be just so inconvenient. It looks awkward, it feel awkward, and it's hard to text friends and check email while you're also using augmented reality apps. Enter the engineers at Google, who are promisingmaybe even by the end of this yearto sell sunglasses with virtual reality displays on the inside of the lenses.
When you look around you will see all kinds of information projected in front of your eyes. That's so insanely cool we're having trouble thinking of a sarcastic jaded way to transition you to the rest of this post.
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Another week, another slate of augmented reality travel apps to talk about. Last Friday it was the surprisingly cute web application that Hotels.com had put together, turning the camera on users and letting them hold cities in their hands. This week comes TagWhat, a company that claims to be the "world's first augmented reality creation and distribution system." At its core the program is just a social network for augmented reality tags, where you share what you've tagged with your network, plus a few integrated features. In practice, though, it has the potential to be a monster travel application.
The social networking part is fairly direct. Just like you can leave a location-based note on Foursquare and have it pop up when a friend checks in, so too can you use TagWhat to tag a location. When a friend later looks at that location through their browser they'll see the information you left. The tagging is a little more elaborate than on Foursquare, which is what you'd expect since since they're designed to do different things. On Tagwhat you can embed webpages, images, and other elements as well as just text. But the principle is the same.
Augmented Reality / Hotels / Technology / Travel Tech / Android / iPhone / → All Tags
We're usually wary of anything that calls itself a "virtual vacation" since that sounds a little too much like the dreaded "staycation," but the new Hotels.com augmented reality "Virtual Vacation" site is pretty sweet. It's more like a really slick, really shiny series of virtual tours designed to get people out of their houses and into a Hotels.com provided hotel, of course. The virtual tour aspect is straightforward enough, with maps and information on 10 major cities. The tours are fairly in-depth, and there's the added integration of letting users purchase hotels from the main site at any point, but ultimately they're just virtual tours.
As with the other augmented reality travel apps that we've looked at, both for the Android and for the iPhone, a regular old layer of reality gets covered with an additional digital layer that provides interesting information or interaction. What's different about the Hotels.com approach is that rather than pointing a camera "outward" and seeing digital information "out there," you point a webcam at yourself and then it projects a digital layer into your hand. And it looks like a city!
iPhone Travel Apps / iPhone / San Francisco Travel / Public Transportation / BART / Augmented Reality / → All Tags
Today is officially the first day of pre-orders for Apple's new iPad, and in honor of the day, we thought it appropriate to talk up another great iPhone Travel App, especially now that augmented reality is becoming more and more embraced.
The latest to make use of augmented reality with the iPhone 3GS is, to our delight, San Francisco's BART system. They've just released their app in conjunction with Junaio, to locate the closest BART station to you, and even see what and when is the next train is arriving. It works like most other augmented reality applications; you turn on the app, which opens up the phone's camera and utilizing the GPS to lay direction and transportation information over the scene you see around you, but on your screen.
But it's features go further. More, after the jump.