How augmented reality turns your smartphone into interactive devices

Augmented Reality is used to define a digital augmentation of the real world. Augmented Reality or AR is used to define a digital augmentation of the real world. With AR, the world you see is captured through a lens and it can then be augmented with various feeds like pointers/arrows/graphics, audio, video, photographs, GPS co-ordinates or just plain text. AR superimposes these digital enhancements in real-time , as you view it. Don’t confuse AR with VR or virtual reality – VR is a complete replacement of the real world, a virtual world which you can be immersed in using a headset, wraparound screen or multiple monitors.

Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality
The military forces across the world have been using this kind of technology for years now — for instance, the H.U.D. or head up display in many tanks and fighter aircraft superimpose digital information on a view of the real world. But now, thanks to your smartphone, you can now experience augmented reality with the help of apps. Whether you use an iOS device, Android device, BlackBerry or Symbian3 smartphone, you can get free AR apps for various purposes.

AR could have a number of uses. The lighter side of augmented reality is games, of which several examples are available across these platforms. You could play a shoot-em-up game, with your enemies appearing on a live view of the room around you. Other practical uses include more effective GPS navigation (which overlays route information on an image of the actual road ahead), travel & tourism (useful information for tourists overlaid on landmarks) or something as simple as locating your car in a crowded parking lot.

Google Goggles
This app uses the pictures taken from the Android phone camera to detect and provide information about the subject in the image with references. It also allows you translate text from one language, read barcodes/QR codes and add notes to any image.

One of the best augmented reality browsers available for Android, Layar has data sorted into various categories. You need to select the category you are interested in and the area that you want the search to be limited to. Post that, Layar takes your camera feed and shows you places nearby along with relevant info.

Photos around
This one works on a more visual principle. The app detects your location and then shows you images and information about nearby places. The images are picked up from Panoramio — an online photo sharing community — and then displayed with the relevant distance between you and the place where the image was taken.