While we all pray for Japan and other unfortunate countries, let us feature them for gracing us with another one of their brilliant inventions. I think it’s a great idea and could prove to be very useful (especially for us girls that recognize landmarks rather than street names).
If you’re like me, when someone asks you for directions, you’ll respond with something like “Keep going straight until you see McDonald’s. Turn right and make a left at the police station”. Sometimes, it can get confusing and when I get instructions with street names, I feel myself looking at the paper every two minutes – and that can be dangerous if you’re driving. It’s especially nerve racking when it’s your first time there and you don’t want to be late but it’s unknown territory.
Japan’s NTT DoCoMo have created the AR Walker, an augmented reality application that lets you see your route with a device that attaches to the side of your eyeglasses. This device is attached to a strap that goes around your neck that is very light and snaps onto your eyeglasses.
There are already apps out there like Google Maps that lets you see the visual route but it will either be on your phone or on your laptop before you head out. Working from an app that is on your cellphone, it projects what is on your phone onto your eyeglasses, which means you are literally seeing it in front of you!
It sounds too good to be true but it is still in its experimental phase and is not yet available to the general public. Those that have tried it out have said it’s great but there are downsides. It only works if the app on your phone is open so you won’t be able to use your phone for anything else during that time. The prototype also wouldn’t fit on thicker rimmed glasses which made be hard for those with plastic frames (like me).
After working on it some more, I think it could be something that people can integrate into their daily lives. We see it in sci-fi movies all the times where people have those eye pieces that show maps, track people and all kinds of other things. Apparently, if you look up at the sky, the AR Walker will also tell you the weather!
I think DoCoMo is on the right track with what they’re doing and they really are taking advantage of the technology that’s available to us. Who knows what else will come out of Japan but we’ll have to wait and see.
Here’s a video from DigInfo TV that better explains the Walker and gives you a more in-depth look: