Augmented reality technology (or AR) is swiftly becoming a hot trend in the world of mobile devices. But what is augmented reality? You’ve already seen it, in NFL broadcasts and on the new Nintendo DS. Simply put, augmented reality is a graphic overlay, the special effect created by super-imposing computer generated material over a live stream of a real-time area. Sports analysts use it for every broadcast; it’s the line markers you see on the field that aren’t really there.
Until recently, AR technology for mobile devices has been solely experimental and largely useless. But over the past several months, AR iPhone apps have started to take off. Most of these apps are location-based, allowing the app to display information about your surroundings as you move your phone’s viewfinder around. For example, Stella Artois popular “Le Bar” app allows you to discover new bar locations simply by panning your iPhone around your surroundings. Lost your car in a busy parking lot? The Car Finder app helps you locate your car, placing a marker above your vehicle for easy viewing on your phone. This isn’t the first car finder app ever made, but the real-time picture sure makes it more helpful than the rest.