Yelp introduces Augmented Reality to the iPhone via Easter Egg

While I’m quite a skeptic whether Presslite’s Metro Paris application for the iPhone has “AR capabilities” in the version available on the appstore, there’s no denying Yelp’s application does.
Found by Robert Scoble (I’m pretty sure it was leaked to Scoble), and brought to my awareness my ReadWriteWeb, shaking your iPhone while on Yelp’s main menu three times, will open up an hidden feature named monocle. Monocle is nothing but an augmented reality view of Yelp’s listing, as shown in the next video (many thanks to Tom Carpenter for finding this one):

It only works on the iPhone 3gs, but unlike Metro Paris, it’s free, so don’t hesitate to tr y it out. Now, I don’t think that in the long run it matters whether Apple knew or not about this feature. Obviously, mobile augmented reality is here, and we are only about see more of it in the coming months. What should matter is what’s next? Where will innovation come from, if everyone is using the same compass and GPS combo?
I for one think that we are in the middle of the “AR browsers” season, but the next big thing, which better suits the technology at hand (imprecise compasses), is mobile AR games. What are your thoughts?

3 Responses

  1. I think the next step is a standardised browser protocol or platform. Something that lets varying browsers see the same data, as well as letting users add to it. (even with inaccurate position I think there is a lot more that can be done). I think there will then be an explosion in AR data.

    I think we are a little futher away from games, I expect next year sometime for them to start taking off fully.
    I do think games will massively drive the hardware forward though. Its games thats driven computer power upwards more then anything else, and I think the exact same thing will happen with AR tech. Games will drive demand for better output, better sycning and better graphics.

    My worry is that going forward there will be too much separation between game AR and utility AR. In the dream scenario both should be able to be present on the view at the same time. (with objects rendered in front of and behind each others virtual objects correctly)

    Of course, the first games are marker based anyway, but when we finaly start getting more location-based gaming, when we finaly start to have say, virtual Pokemon following people about in the real world, people will want to have many AR layers open at once, not just the one from the game.

  2. Something few people seem to be paying attention to is this: there are a handful of manufacturers of data glasses that connect to mobile devices. I recently met with the president of MyVu and we discussed the direction of their products. They are targeting a sedentary entertainment model at this time, but I pointed out what it would take to add some AR functionality: put a camera, the compass and the accelerometer in the glasses. They already work with the iPhone (though the iPhone restricts video out) and the Nokia phones that support video out. Blackberry had intended to add a video out in their last go round but cancelled it at the last minute. There is at least one manufacturer of data glasses pursuing the see through model (Vuzix) scheduled to come out this fall. All of the technology will exist at the end of this year then, to plug in a pair of see through glasses to a cell phone and run an application that applies overlays to the reality you see through your shades. Given that the glasses combined with the phone will know where you are, and which way you’re looking; AR will explode like crazy.

    Phase one will be the elite phase available only to the wealthy, but this will be a relatively short period. The only questions that are open at the moment is which companies will sieze the initiative, which ones are working at it feverishly in the back rooms, and what are they planning?

    The applications that will drive this are: advertising, social networking, and gaming. I have no inside information on this, but I’d be willing to bet that either Blizzard or Kryptic will be the first to get to real world AR gaming. If they don’t; they are foolish indeed for letting someone else take this from them.

    And then of course; there will be porn.

  3. Absolutely on all counts.
    I have been following Vuzix iWrap developments for awhile…no solid reviews, but some positive words on priceing (seems they are aiming for $500…very resonable, imho).
    As I understand it, there “quantom-optic” tech provides an adative-view to the world. Optical transparent overlay that adds light. (so white stuff is 100% visible, black is transparent, and grey 50% opacity). At least thats what I understand.
    Its far-from the Denno-Coil esq vision of the AR Specs, but its the most solid step in the right direction Ive seen, and already practical to use for all sorts of things.

    I imagine the first use with being emphasistic amateurs and buisness’s. (lots of buisness’s already use AR solutions they built themselfs…..i would imagine -a lot- more would use it if there was off the shelf HMDs suitable).
    But as quality goes up, and prices come down it will reach mass-market potential.

    Some questions as to style/fashion issues. But If you look at the first mobile phones, and bare in mind that at the moment people completely lose the use of their arms when using AR functionality, I think AR specs will catch on even without them looking totally sleak.
    (as long they are -practical- and show benefits, sleekness will come in time)

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