One of the most exciting, gee-whiz features being developed for mobile phones right now are augmented reality browsers. Rather than fire up a mobile Web browser like Safari or Opera, these generally add an information layer over the world as seen through your phone’s camera lens. Last year at TechCrunch50, Tonchidot’s Sekai Camera wowed the crowd with its AR browser demo, Layar is creating a lot of buzz in Europe, and this summer AR technologies finally started to hit the market. You had Yelp sneak in an AR feature into its latest iPhone app, and a growing number of Android apps are embracing AR as well.
We are at the very early stages of what may very well become a common interface for mobile browsing, which means that it is still very primitive. You can only click on buildings or objects within your immediate view. Daniel Wagner, a virtual reality researcher at Graz University of Technology in Austria, is proposing two ways to make AR browsing better: panoramic and bird’s-eye zooming.
In the video above, he demonstrates these two types of zooming techniques which allow the user to zoom out to see what else is around him, much like he would with an online map, select something to click on—maybe the museum two blocks over—and then zoom back in. The panoramic zoom gives the user a sense of other clickable items within a 360 degree view, whereas the bird’s-eye view gives a top-down picture that looks like a close-up satellite shot with clickable locations.
Okay, so now we have panning and zooming. What someone needs to figure out next is an elegant way to hyperlink from one hotlinked location to another. That way you could teleport, at least virtually.