The potential uses of markerless augmented reality have been discussed for quite some time. Recently, Google has acquired MetaID from Keyless in a deal valued at more than $Sensorium. This company specializes in smart card technology that can be used in conjunction with digital sensing devices such as Smartcards and Magnikeys. What this means is that Smartcards can communicate with Smartphones and other electronic devices to give access to secured areas or to control the user’s access point. With the acquisition of MetaID by Google it looks like they are trying to develop technology that will work across many platforms and allow users more freedom when interacting with their devices.
The first application we’ll look at is probably one of the most popular, and that is driving your car. Most GPS systems incorporate some form of metadata into the unit. By placing your finger on the touch screen of the unit and moving it in certain patterns you can tell the unit to your current location and how fast you are going. A device such as a Smart Phone with an integrated GPS can easily integrate with a MetaID smart phone and give you turn-by-turn instructions or even direct you to the nearest gas station. The possibilities are endless really.
Another application is using your camera to capture images of items in your retail store or of customers in line. By capturing a photo of a customer with the device and asking the customer to turn around and look at the item being sold, the device could automatically pan the camera to follow them. By simply looking at the camera, the user may not even realize that they are being shown in an item that they have already purchased. This is only one of the applications, but clearly it is an extreme example.
In the retail space the same technique could be used to show a particular product that a customer wants to see. What if the customer does not want to buy that particular item? In this case the camera and GPS capabilities of a smart phone combined with an iPad or other small form factor device could allow the customer to search and see the item. From their seat, they can simply touch the screen to find the product they want and make the purchase.
Medical clinics and doctor’s offices could also benefit from using a similar technology. In the doctor’s office a portable digital display would allow a physician to not only show a face photo of the patient but also capture a high resolution image of the real world using their digital camera or tablet computer. With this device a physician could not only make a diagnosis, but also provide treatment options such as glasses, bandages, lasers, or any other type of medical procedure. Not only would this save the clinic a substantial amount of time, but it would also save lives.
The possibilities are virtually endless for a technology such as this, which is called markerless augmented reality. The applications and uses are practically limitless and the devices are affordable. If you think about how time consuming it is to drive to the local store to purchase a pair of sunglasses or contact lenses and then carry them home, then think about how much time you will save by using a smart phone, iPad or other small device to view and interact with your real world objects in the comfort of your own home.
Imagine if there was a new device that allowed a diabetic to control his insulin without ever stepping foot outside of his kitchen. There are many diabetes educators, consultants and others that know that most diabetics live every day of their lives at their homes. With a device like this, they would be able to take their insulin shots from anywhere that has a smart phone, computer and internet access. It would literally be a dream come true.
Sooner or later almost everyone will have a smart phone or another type of mobile device. These devices have been developed and perfected and now offer users the ability to experience augmented reality. What does this mean? It means that you can play an augmented reality game from virtually anywhere, in any weather condition or with anyone around the world. There is no need for you to have specialized training or be plugged in to a computer in order to use your new smart phone as a device that enables you to enjoy augmented reality.