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.

What I Want For Augmented Reality in 2010

I was going to expand on my predictions that Rouli had posted on Games Alfresco because, frankly, they were pretty lame (mine and not the other nine, those were good.)  But decided that there have been enough predictions for 2010.  So instead, I want to go over the things I want to happen in 2010 in regards to augmented reality.   

1. I want the Nexus One phone from Google to be untethered, cheap and make AR apps fun.

2. I want to be surprised by an AR ready HMD.

3. I want to see fun, creative AR games that are across all platforms and come at an affordable price. 

4. I want the AR inspection assist project I’m working on with Metaio to go flawlessly and for it to revolutionize the way we do difficult inspection job at Toyota and make it easier on our team members. 

5. I want Google Goggles to be a database that other programs can use for pattern recognition and markerless tracking.

6. I want to attend ISMAR10 even though its all the way over in South Korea.

7. I want the ISMAR09 presentations to be put up on YouTube so we can see all the great things that happened.

8. I want Apple to free their live video API for better AR on the iPhone.

9. I want to know what Neogence Enterprises has been working on all these years. 

10. I want to continue to make Games Alfresco the hands-down, defacto source for all your augmented reality news. 

So for all you programmers and entrepreneurs working on the latest in augmented reality tech, even though I may put up your YouTube video or link to your webpage and make semi-snarky comments about its usefulness or how its so-2009, I certainly appreciate your hard work.  Unless you were just mailing it in hoping to capitalize on the AR buzz, then you deserve it and then some.  For all of you in the former category, I leave you with my two favorite quotes to keep you going when things get tough:

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is no in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively.  Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth.  Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer. 

   — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

IT IS NOT THE CRITIC WHO COUNTS: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again…who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. 

   — Teddy Roosevelt