Junaio launches augmented reality platform for the iPhone and the Web

[Germany] Munich-based metaio, a developer of visual interaction software products, is today launching a consumer-oriented iPhone application (iTunes link) and complementary website that combines the fun and usefulness of augmented reality with social networking.

The application, dubbed junaio, is billed by the company as the ‘world’s first augmented reality platform’ but bears some resemblance to what other European startups like Layar and Wikitude have been putting out there lately.

In essence, the company aims to enable people to “bring the Internet to the real world” by providing them with a tool to add interactive notes, smileys, web links, rankings, imagery, virtual objects and even Twitter accounts to images of the real world around them. In addition, users can publish their custom augmented reality representations, edit those made by others and easily share the results on the junaio website or Facebook.

The iPhone application is rather buggy and most of the objects are graphically challenged, but there’s definitely some potential there. I’m thinking it could be especially fun and useful to document tourist attractions with relevant links, for example, so another junaio user could point his or her iPhone camera to a monument in a major city and immediately see what other users have said about or linked to before them.

Big caveat though: since no one is actively policing or moderating submissions, this is one version of augmented reality that could quickly turn into a haven for creative spammers and trolls alike. And then you can kiss the fun factor goodbye.