Austrian startup, Mobilizy, released a navigation system today as an experiment to see if augmented reality can work with driving directions. (Augmented reality involves superimposing data and information over the real world viewed through your phone’s viewfinder.)
The idea of using augmented reality in navigation isn’t new. The military has long used it to guide fighter pilots and identify targets, but GPS-enabled smartphones with accelerometers have finally made commercial applications feasible.
Mobilizy’s program, called Wikitude Drive, has map-less navigation and integrated text-to-speech, so a voice will read out where you have to go like other GPS systems. Wikitude Drive tells you how far you are from your destination and how long it will take to get there, and it overlays arrows pointing in the direction you need to go. Like Mobilizy’s other product, the Wikitude augmented reality browser, it only works on Android phones at the moment.
As long as end-users can buy holders for their phone, it might work. The demo raises one small question, though: Will people want to walk (or drive around) constantly holding their phones at eye level? The young and very much buzzed-out field of augmented reality may eventually have to come to grips with this user interface issue.