Augmented reality can be defined as a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Forgetting the definition augmented reality adds a different dimension to your phone and you can view the world in a whole different way.
While the concept of augmented reality has been around for some time, the advent of smartphones has the brought the concept closer to reality and a lot of app developers have used it to create some futuristic apps. Here is our pick of top augmented reality apps.
Layar is one of the oldest and best AR apps present on the app stores. The user interface is simple and easy to learn and navigate even for a novice. The app also allows you to scan QR codes and newspaper/magazine pages to add an added element to print content. The beauty in this app is the various layars one can choose from and overlay your reality. There are layars which give you tourist destinations, local search and photos of an area. By rotating your phone around one will get to see stuff pop up on the screen based on the direction you are looking at.
Wikitude World Browser
This is similar to Layar and has been an awarding winning app for four years. The app gives you a completely immersive experience by being your third eye. One has to just hold up your smartphone to engage with your immediate surroundings and get information on places, find restaurants, discover people and play games . Wikitude has over 100 million places listed and also has interactive content from thousands of content providers or so called “Worlds”. Using this app one can also create their very own AR World and share it with friends.
This apps can measure short distances with just your phone. The app displays distances on screen by using your smartphone’s camera and overlaying the measurements on screen with live pictures from the phones camera. The picture adjust in real time to measure whatever is in front of your camera. Super cool tool if you don’t have a measuring tape around.
Download: Smart Tools (Android, $2.50)
While there are a number of AR based games, nothing comes close to the complexity of Ingress. Ingress was built by a team inside Google. The game puts players into two factions — the Enlightened and the Resistance — and has them fight for control of virtual territories in a giant game of king of the hill. Players can obtain a material called Exotic Matter (XM) by simply walking around, and can use that XM to take over virtual portals. If a team takes over three or more portals, they gain control of that area.
Download: Ingress for Android. You will need an invite to play.
Do you often forget way you parked your car especially in a crowded mall or parking lot. Well then this app is for you. It remembers where you have parked your car and all you need to do is pull out your phone and it will direct you to your car using AR.
This is liking having a virtual planetarium in your pocket and one can just point your phone in the skies to get the name of visible stars and objects. Even if it is not visible one will get an idea of where a particular celestial object is located in the sky. It also has search functionality.
Nokia City Lens
While most of the above apps are for iOS and Android devices, Nokia has released Nokia City Lens for Lumia Window Phone devices. It gives dynamic information, through the phone’s camera display, about users’ surroundings such as shops, restaurants, and points of interest, shown as virtual signs overlaid on or above buildings. It even shows the distances to these places so once can easily navigate oneself to these locations. It even has a Sightline feature which allows you to narrow your view to just what’s in your direct line of sight, making it easier to spot great places that are right in front of you.
Download: Nokia City Lens only for Windows Phone Lumia devices.
While the above list are just apps for smartphones, the ultimate level of augmented reality can be felt with emerging technologies like Google Glass, which will take AR to an all new level.