Five Reasons Why the iPhone 4 Was Made for Augmented Reality

The last year we’ve had quite the love/hate relationship with Steve Jobs and his beloved iPhone.  Like a pimple-faced love struck boy with a handful of daisies in our hand, we felt the fools when the OS3.1 stood us up at the local Burger Barn.  I mean, we weren’t asking to go steady, just a date and maybe a kiss on the cheek in the form of video access API.  Afterwards, we crossed out Steve Job’s picture in our yearbook and shot spit wads at him in hallway when we got the chance.

Now it looks like the new iPhone 4 and iOS4, will make us love sick again.  Though this time we’re a little older and not as pimple laded as last year.  Augmented reality is growing up and we have more to offer, and in return, so does the new iPhone and OS as Steve Jobs announced the details on it yesterday.

1) Video Access API

Clearly this is the number one based on the long and fruitless flirtation during 2009.  With this change, the iPhone can finally become a real AR smartphone using video feed instead of lame picture frame workarounds.

2) Dual facing cameras

We thought the iPad might have it but we picked the wrong Apple product.  Dual facing cameras can turn the iPhone into the same weird tool that the webcam is, replacing our faces with cows, Iron Man, or Transformers.  I hope developers can learn to be more creative than that.

3) Apple A4 Processor

Playing with video requires more power.  This new chip will raise the ceiling on potential applications.  ‘Nuff said.

4) Gyroscope

This one caught me by surprise, and a pleasant one at that.  With the gyroscope, the iPhone can now understand the world without having to actual see anything.  With the accelerometer it can essentially sense gravity, giving the iPhone an easy way to tell where the floor is.  This should greatly improve those shooter games that left zombies and fires floating in free space.  If I were a developer, I would be quite excited about this addition.

5) 5 Megapixel HD Camera

While this isn’t better than the Droid eight-megapixel and only matches the Nexus One five-megapixel, it improves from the previous number of three.  While this isn’t a huge upgrade, it does help our vision system see what’s going on.

A few months ago, I had pretty much decided not to get an iPhone when my wife’s contract was up, but with these changes I think the iPhone is back in the hunt.  As new demos of AR apps start hitting YouTube, I think we’ll all get a better sense of how good the new iPhone is going to be for augmented reality.  I for one, hope we grow to have a wonderful relationship with full benefits, if you know what I mean.

3 Responses

  1. Hi,
    nice post very informative …the new iPhone is the master of visual arts …And with the enhanced sensors it will make our iPhone experience more intesnse and fun


  2. A actual gyroscope?
    Its interesting, is it the first phone to have one? Theres some irony there, given that Google has had a Gyroscope hock in their Android code lib’s for ages….but no phone that supports it.

    Certainly having hardware gyroscopes is a major step forward for the accuracy of rotations.
    Not quite perfect though we are still left with the
    1. “identifying north” problem. (magnetic compass’s just arnt that great)
    2. Calibration. (As any recent Wii owner can attest too, gyro’s get out of sycn if not calibrated against a referance surface every once inawhile).

    Still, its a great step forward for rotational accuracy.

    As for the forward facing camera, I can see one killer use for it, if its good enough;

    Face tracking!

    With face-tracking *and* a backfaceing camera, you could make the the device a true window into another world, where the angle of the scene behind changes as you look around.
    Still wouldn’t be completely perfect, but it would be an even greater step up in realistic overlays and immersion factor.

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