Categorizing Augmented Reality Apps

While reading reviews of highly recommended augmented reality apps for smartphones I started to put them into some basic categories. Most of them seem to fall into a category I’ll call “annotators”. Apps such as Layar, acrossair, and the clever Asian Art Museum Terracotta Warriors exhibit app. These annotators show a digital metadata overlay on real world objects. This metadata can be a restaurant review, the name of a star in the night sky, or a painting’s date and school.

Another category is heads-up display apps. This provide information we had access to in other devices but display them in front of your eyes so you don’t have to look down. Spyglass for example superimposes a compass, geographic coordinates, and other data directly on your view just a fighter HUD. Google glass has many apps that fit in this category and show new email, twitter posts, and so on.

The third category are synthetic apps. These apps create purely digital objects on your view. Augmented reality games use this such as AR Invaders which superimposes a space invaders game on your view. More interesting is an app called Augment which will show you how furniture might look in your room.

Many apps cross categories and I only intend these as rough groups to help think about the possibilities of augmented reality. I think the synthetic apps offer the most intriguing possibilities for fusing the digital and the real.

Categories: Augmented Reality

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