Google’s new Field Trip: Virtually augmenting the awesomeness of reality

Remember those Windows Phone ads mocking iPeople with their iEyes on their iDevices?

Smartphones and apps sometimes separate us from the physical world even as we walk through it. But Google has created a virtual tool that will help us appreciate the wonder of reality.

Google’s new Android app Field Trip is a docent for your smartphone, telling you all the fascinating, relevant, and historical information about the world you’re living in as you move through it — without having to ask.

Tell Field Trip what you’re interested in — architecture, history, entertainment, deals — and as you move through your day, the app will bring up fascinating tips or shopping opportunities as you move from place to place. It requires no searching, no Googling, no quick check of Wikipedia: just information that you’ve asked for, appearing when you might want to see it.

It’s not local search; it’s local find — no questions required.

Field Trip has one of the most impressive introductory videos that I’ve ever seen. It tells a fascinating story about the vision behind the project, and it’s well worth a couple of minutes of your time. Keep watching to the very end, or you won’t understand what’s going on:

Google has partnered with the Food Network, it’s own Zagat, and Eater to find the best places to eat, and Cool Hunting, Inhabitat, and Remodelista, among others, for funky stores and products. Atlas Obscura — the self-described “compendium of the world’s wonders, curiosities, and esoterica” — and the Daily Secret add in flavor and seasoning, and Vayable adds unique hand-picked experiences such as custom tours, and local, insider events.

The danger, of course is annoyance: If the app tells too much, or if too little is relevant, users will turn it off. But it can be turned off, and the categories can be personalized to your interests. I’m optimistic this will turn out to be a very, very neat tool for both vacationers and those who are rediscovering the places in which they live.

The app is only available in the U.S. at launch, and while it is currently Android-only, an iPhone version is coming “soon.”

photo credit: Aesum via photopin cc