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Like with most things iPhone-related, the sight of a new application sends people into a frenzy. However the latest development in augmented reality applications could be useful for both ecommerce and the news industry. 

The latest and greatest in augmented reality/iPhone applications is called Nearest Tube, by application-development company acrossair. Once you've downloaded the application from the iPhone application store, fire it up and hold your iPhone out in front of you. Using your phone's internal GPS, it will coordinate where you are and then determine where the nearest Tube station is. It lists the name, location, lines and how far you are from it.


In the e-commerce world augmented reality mobile applications have already begun to sprout up. Over at CNet they've done a good write-up of a new mobile browser by Dutch software developer SPRXmobile:

Imagine a browser in which you view the real world through a camera lens and a heads-up display picks out interest points amid the living cityscape. This type of augmented reality has been the stuff of science fiction, but the cell phone browser Layar by Dutch software developer SPRXmobile claims to make it real.

Here's a video they've produced about the browser in action:

For the news industry, augmented reality mobile applications could have huge implications. Imagine loading a news organisation's AR application and holding it front of you. Once you do, notifications appear on screen showing you the approximate locations of news items relative to where you live. It would be hyperlocalism realised.

To do this, stories published to the AR application would need to be encoded with specific data on top of the story itself. It's a good thing the industry is already moving in that direction:

The new standard was created by AP and gives every story a brief series of metadata: a brief precis of what the story is about; a dateline of where it was written, the author’s name, any “news principles” adhered to by the publisher and whether it’s covered by usage rights.

The metadata could also include geotags to alert an AR device of where the story originated from. It hasn't happened yet (that I'm aware of) but it can't be far away. The news organisation can make money both off the sale of the device and in charging a monthly fee to access the data. It's a business opportunity waiting to happen.

Ben LaMothe

Published 13 July, 2009 by Ben LaMothe

Ben LaMothe is a web & social media strategist with Florida-based advertising and marketing consultancy Renaissance Creative. You can follow him on Twitter.

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