Cool Tech: New software uses your smartphone camera as a lens, overlays data and images in real-time

picture-7Augmented Reality might just be the best thing that has ever happened to Plain Old Regular Reality.

What is it? I’m sure by now you’ve seen Google Earth. You were probably amazed by how you can browse different parts of the globe and see detailed information simply by clicking on icons in it’s 3D topographical view. Augmented Reality uses that same principle, but applies it to the real world by using the camera on your Android Phone (coming soon to iPhone) as a lens — live in real time. An application called World Browser from a small company called Wikitude overlays information on available points of interest or landmarks simply by pointing the camera at it. Your smartphone becomes a realtime docent, a guide, Rick Steves in the palm of your hand.

If that isn’t cool enough Wikitude’s World Browser can also display live 3D renderings of things that aren’t there. For example, the World Trade Centers (video below). Philipp Breuss-Schneeweis, founder and CEO at Mobilizy, an Austrian tech firm, was in New York on 9/11 and feels a personal connection to the Towers. In remembrance, Mobilizy has created ghostly towers that rise up from the real Ground Zero in New York. Here it’s used as a haunting virtual memorial, but I’m sure you can imagine how this technology would help builders, architects, city officials and others view what a building or structure would look like in a specific space. The possibilities are endless. From incorporating social network data, geo-tagging, gaming and more.