Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch
Augmented reality is here. If you're unsure of what that is, think of the Terminator movies when they showed you what it was like to look at the world through the robot's eyes, and all the data about whatever he was looking at popped up over the image. It's a tool that we really love around here because it can be used for so many green purposes. Already becoming widely useful for navigating public transportation, it can grow up to be the way we spot green restaurants and stores, learn more about the flora and fauna around us, and even sort through products on the shelves to find the most environmentally friendly options. The possibilities seem vast, and already there are some cool AR apps to try out. While not specifically green, these apps are moving us in the right direction.
The king of AR right now is Layar. The app for Android and iPhone overlays information on your phone's screen about practically anything. Just pick a layer -- houses for sale, coffee shops, subway stations -- hold up your phone and see what pops up. The more layers added, the more specific greenies can get when hunting for eco-friendly shops, restaurants, transportation and so on.
Robotvision uses Bing local search to guide you through your surroundings. The accelerometer and compass technology, along with the camera take you to anything you're looking for, from restaurants to landmarks. It even includes Twitter updates and geotagged Flickr photos.
Bionic Eye covers all US cities and visualizes Points of Interest (POI) located in your nearby environment in the US, including restaurants, WiFi hotspots, subway stations (New York Subway, Washington Metro, Chicago L Rapid Transit), and so on.
This one is for the telecommuter and home office worker -- an increasingly green way to work. WorkSung connects mobile workers to the nearest and best places to get some work done in the city. Hold up your phone, see what coffee shops, restaurants, libraries and other spots are nearby, and get a rating for their plug outlet availability, their quality of WiFi, the noise level...even the quality of coffee! It's already available for workers in San Francisco, New York, London, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Leiden and Brighton. Users can add their own favorite spots and review those inputted by others.
Going PlacesAR apps from Acrossair, which now has apps for quite a few major cities worldwide.
This app provides an overlay map of your surroundings, and pop-ups of of the things around you. You can navigate along city streets without having to wander around with a paper map. You can enter locations you want to find, and it will guide you to them.
With London Tube, you can not only find out about the location of a tube station and the service level, but also the nearest bike sharing hub and points of interest like where to grab a bite to eat. It makes using public or pedal-powered transportation much easier.
Learning About Places
Similar to Nearestwiki, Cyclopedia shows a viewer information about the things around them. It can find everything listed in Wikipedia that is within a 30 mile radius from where you're at, and then filter them according to how far they are from where you're standing. As you move your phone around, Wikipedia articles are superimposed over the building, storefront, restaurant, landmark, etc. You can geotag green things in Wikipedia and they'll eventually pop up in the app.
Similar to the previous two apps, Wikitude provides real-time data about one's surroundings, nearby landmarks and other points of interest by overlaying information on the screen of the iPhone. A user can search via Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, Google Local Search, Yelp and Booking.com. Results can be filtered, and different types of searches (as in with different types of content) can be done independently, so you can see your world however you want to.
Learning About Spaces
lodestone tells you where you are, and everything about where you are, using Google Maps and Wikipedia. It's like a combination of one of the Nearestwiki or Cyclopedia and Peaks apps. You can find out about how high you are or the elevation of the mountain you're hiking, details about nearby locations complete with photos and notes. YOu can also add your own articles and custom info.
Unwrap every scrap of information about the night sky with this app. Constellations, planets, individual stars...all you have to do is aim your phone and you can learn more about the bright lights in the sky. It even tells you about that evening's sky and events happening that you don't want to sleep through.
If you're interested in tracking the sun to see how its path impacts the planet, this app is a cool one to use. It shows the sun's path, rise and set times, and other vital stats. It's great for gardeners planning their plant locations, or architects who want to learn how sunlight will impact the orientation and design of a home to take advantage of passive lighting, heating and cooling.
This is just a fun AR app to see which way the wind is blowing. It shows the local wind and weather conditions with animated wind vectors. If you're a surfer, cyclist, outdoor enthusiast or in any other way interested in the breeze, this is a fun app.
BP BonusThis augmented reality app featuring BP is just for kicks. If you spot a BP logo, you can aim your phone at it and see how everyone currently views the company...
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