Augmented Reality – the History application

I like the idea of augmented reality, the idea that using a device (usually a mobile) I can get more out of the world. For someone who sits watching TV with the laptop, so I can dig into more information about what I’m watching, being able to do that on the move would be great. Yes, I can look it up via the web, but it can be easier to have it all pulled together.

Whenever I talk about the subject, I bring up my most desired application. Tube stations and restaurants tourist places and all that are fun and useful but I want something with a bit of depth, and that depth is time. I want a history tool. I want to be able to walk around London and know that Marble Arch used to be Tyburn. That this is the path of the Fleet. That Trafalgar Square used to be the Royal Mews. Point my phone at something and it would offer me the chance to move back and forward in time, giving me information about what it was. In some places, where the images are there, I want to see what it looked like. A perfect example is the paintings on the walls of one of the Tube tunnels at Charing Cross, which gives you street plans and drawings of buildings of the area. Let’s put that on the phone.

This isn’t a simple mash-up, it’s not pulling ready-made data together, because as far as I know, it’s not there. We’ll have to build the database, turn into historians to pull it together. I think that Layer is a possibility, with the ability to create data sets. This is what I want, but I have no idea how to build it..anyone out there doing it already?

Update: I went along to Mobile Monday London yesterday and ended up chatting about this app. A few more ideas got developed.

  • The database element and app itself appears to be fairly simple. It needs to use the location and retrieve the data for that location, and then be able to move through the different time layers.
  • Collecting content is more difficult. There could be ways of partnering with museums, ie Museum of London, or other local museums. A great source would be local history groups, that often have specialised archives. It should be possible to allow users to develop the content, around a specific location.

11 thoughts on “Augmented Reality – the History application

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  6. AG is very exciting but these rich/deep type of data driven apps will not happen IMHO until we:

    1. Improve mobile broadband speeds like Sweden/Singapore
    2. Mobile CPU speeds need to be faster to process the data
    3. Data owners need to structure their data for use as linked data. So multiple data sources can be chained together to create these mashups.
    4. These datastores need to be easily accessible (RESTful in the cloud)

    For example a simple data store of london restaurants is relatively easy based on my GPS location but I also want that linked to my chosen review site data store and then further filtered by my social graph and all of this in realtime.

    The question is even if we can overcome the technical limitations over the next few years – what would you be prepared to pay for such services.

  7. Interesting, your example exists – foursquare does it. I can see where my friends are – also what they have recommended, plus get the Yelp reviews. That’s the theory, it’s still got hiccoughs. I’m guessing some of the other similar apps do the same as well

    Although I agree with the fact we’re still a long way from actually getting the infrastructure. I’m just approaching this from the user end, saying ‘I want’! And yes, if useful to me, I’d pay. I already pay for services that I find useful (Flickr, blog hosting, some iphone apps, VPN etc)

  8. I like your point about getting more details from TV via the internet. That’s exactly how I love to watch TV content. More info on tap 🙂

  9. I’ve seen those apps and like them but what they’re not offering me is the time dimension. It puts a whole load of text against a location, but does not easily let me understand what somewhere was like at this point – and what the surrounding places were like. For me, wikipedia is the starting point, we’d need to slice the data and information by time.

  10. Something more along the lines of IDG’s prototype work:

    I have very high expectations of Photosynth (second half of this video):

    A conceptual merger of the first link, using the technology of the second, referenced against a library like Wikipedia… accessed with a mobile device, view with a stereoscopic display built into a fashionable pair of eyewear.

    Right now, Cyclopedia, NearestWiki, Wikitude or the Wikipedia channel on Layar are our best options available.

    I am as impatient as you are.