I’ve been pestering my more technical and user experience oriented friends about this idea for the past few weeks. And now I’m rolling it out, conceptually, at least, for you vultures to pick apart and carry off bits as you see fit.
It works like this.
Cellphones are getting more and more intertwined with GPS devices. With the compass in the new iPhone and Android phones, the bloody things can now not only tell you where you are, but what you are looking at, and give you information on what ever it is you happen to be looking at. This is the foundation for what people are calling augmented reality. Basically, you take our normal perception of reality, and then you overlay some kind of heads up display that tells you things you want to know. Like say you were standing in Time’s Square. You could look around through whatever method of delivery you have (cellphones in this day and age, probably contacts or glasses later) and be given information. Look uptown and you could be told via an on screen pop-up where the nearest subway station is, or what tourist things are that way. Look at the TKTS booth in the center of the square and you could be give a list of available tickets, prices and estimated wait times in line. Look over at the Virgin Megastore and you’ll be given the daily deals and event information. Look at the Naked Cowboy and you’ll be given a bio and a link to his iTunes store (if you can stand looking at him long enough for all that to load). Have a basic idea of what I’m talking about? Good.
Now, we’re going to completely side step the weird implications of this electronic, consensual information hallucination and talk about some of the other uses for this kind of tech.
Specifically, I want to build an AR Pinboard.
You know those pinboards they have at coffee shops? With want ads, flyers, community events, art, and other weirdness just tossed up there with a push pin? Those things have always fascinated me. They are this perfect little microcosm of local interests targeting local people. The entire thing is geo-centric marketing to the locals in that coffee shop. And I want it to make a beautiful little e-baby with AR.
Say I am a tourist to Memphis, TN. I’d probably visit Beale Street at some point, it is sort of the nexus of everything that’s happened in the city. At some point, everyone ends up down there, stories get written about it, songs get sung, pictures get taken, history gets made. And I want a virtual pinboard of all of this. I want you to be able to go to Beale Street, pop open you AR-capable data device and have it pick up on dozens of “pins”. Say I get a story idea while standing at the corner of Beale and Third, I’d pop a pin down there using my AR device, and attach the story to it. Or if my friend Brandon took a whole series of photographs in A Schwab, he could toss a pin down there and link it to the pictures on his website. Did amazing group of blues musicians play an impromptu set at WC Handy Park and you happened to be there to record it? Put down a pin and stick the video on it.
Places would start to build up a geocentric AR history as people shared their lives, ideas and creations across these pins. The historical placard would be a thing of the past, an AR pin in its place would be able to provide you with so much more information. Places would become important again, we’d have a reason to leave our monitors, we’d have a reason to go exploring again.
PS: If anyone thinks they can actually build this, I’ll gladly help out.