Wikitude : Practical Augmented Reality

Earlier this week I was talking to a group of travel journalists and demonstrated wikitude, one of the hottest applications available for the new Android powered G-1 phone. Wikitude uses the GPS, Digital Compass and camera on the G-1 to deliver one of the first really practical augmented reality applications, excellent for travel and tourism applications.

It was only a few years ago that I remember the efforts the Research team at the OS put into building a prototype of such a system to demonstrate the potential of such an interface although I don’t think my fellow directors really “got it” despite our efforts.

From the video below the potential of such an interface for displaying geospatial information is obvious.

Wikitube was another one of the Android developer challenge award winners, developed by Mobilizy a small team based in Austria who are themselves a validation of the open source approach to mobile development, a small team with a great development platform and user generated geodata content can create a truly innovative application.

Written and submitted from Vienna Airpot, using its free wifi network.

If you build it, they will come..

Eco2goSo the results are in for the Android Developer Challenge and is amazing to see how many of the nearly fifty winning entiries can be described as some form of LBS application.

As we have always thought location is a key component to the mobile applications of the future.

The example here eco2go, is an application for tracking your carbon footprint.

Take a look at the winners yourself, I can’t wait to get hold of my android phone and try some of these out..

Written and submitted from the Melia Barajas Hotel, Madrid, using its free 802.11 network.

The Mobile Future

We can expect to see numerous stories from Barcelona this week as the The Mobile World Congress 3GSM as was takes place, and is the focus of much of the industry interest. As we all increasingly access the network online, shows like this are becoming more important, the battleground for market share is moving from the desktop to mobile devices and there is an opportunity for new players to flourish in hopefully a more open marketplace than there has been up until now.

Mobile World Congress logo

Look for Hardware vendors to try and innovate independently from the network operators, look for a mobile device OS battle between established closed platforms and new open stacks (e.g. Google’s Android) and look for the network operators to try and hang on to their position on providing value added services beyond just network provision. LBS is becoming more mainstream, although it still needs to make the jump beyond providing maps on your mobile to provide context to all mobile services delivered by your mobile.

The iPhone has had limited market impact in Europe it seems, although how to design a mobile device from the point of usability and been redefined, and hopefully other manufactures must take note, just try and get someone who has used an iPhone for a week, to go back to Windows Mobile or Symbian.

The mobile industry is more dynamic this year than is has even been, the stakes for industry are much higher and hopefully the customer will benefit as ultimately mobile services should be an incredibly useful part of our lives, and will be if the industry can match the openness of the web in general.

So I will be an avid reader of all the news coming out of Barcelona this week.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

Android and LBS – in the stack at last…

So maybe now Mr Balmer is reconsidering his comments of last week..

For me and my interest in geographic information the key detail about the Android SDK is the LBS component, and where is appears in the whole android stack. I have often argued that LBS would only really make sense as an underlining infrastructure that is available to all applications, therefore allowing much higher levels of integration.

One of the key factors to the success of the iPhone is the great integration between its applications, it’s just a shame these are currently restricted in number, to the Apple supplied applications.


With Android the Location Manager component is part of the core application framework, meaning that all user applications have access to the devices location. At a simple level this means that applications like the address book as access to the device location, so your contacts rather than sorted alphabetically could be sorted based on distance from your locations.

Or slightly more “left field” how about a security application which locks the device waiting on the user to enter a PIN if the devices location does not match the scheduled location from the calendar application.

For really the first time, the innovation which always comes from Open Source development can be focused on building LBS.. at last !!

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.