When I was in Japan earlier this week, I ran into Tonchidot CEO Takahito Iguchi at the TechCrunch Tokyo conference and dragged him back to my makeshift studio for an impromptu interview about the state of augmented reality and mobile apps. Tonchidot launched its Sekai Camera app at TechCrunch50 in 2008 before anyone really believed that augmented reality apps were possible. They were the crowd favorite.
In the video above Iguchi tells me that Sekai Camera has been downloaded 3 million times (mostly in Japan), and the AR app can add data from any partner as an overlay through its API. With Sekai camera, you look through your phone’s camera, and floating icons indicate place information, deals, photos, among other things. It is also an AR platform for social games.
Iguchi thinks he can improve the experience with better data and image-matching technology. One way he plans on collecting better data in the form of user-uploaded photos is a new photo-sharing app he is working on codenamed Peek-and-Poke. He showed it to me backstage. It is a cross between Batch and the original Color in that it makes it easy to create and share photo albums with other people at the same event or location. But Iguchi is more interested in how he can use those photos to augment his augmented-reality app.