Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Augmented ID and new viewing screens

Awesome or Scary?
The basic AR tools are already available - Bionic Eye does simple things really well, while Layar has the potential to do a whole lot more if mobile handsets had more memory. Face Recognition is already available on social photo editors (and on iPhoto) as long as you give it something to work from: ie tag some faces and it will recognise them in future. As William Gibson said

"The future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed"

But platforms like Android and iPhone are increasingly becoming evenly distributed in the UK and US, and they offer the infrastructure and revenue potential for developers to bring the future to those handsets quickly at low cost. The Augmented ID application in this video doesn't exist yet, but it is being developed by Polar Rose, developers of one of the leading facial recognition phone applications.

I'm not sure whether this is scary or exciting. The prospect of publicly sharing your data as you walk down the street might be one privacy setting too far for some. Initially you'd be suspicious of anyone looking into a handset....

But the handset bit is also looking like it might get left behind soon. I saw Ian Pearson talk about the idea of augmented reality contact lenses about this time last year, and dismissed it as something that may happen in my lifetime but not something to get excited about. Even a professional futurologist like Ian only included them in the 2015-2020 section of his presentation.

A year on and these are in development: according to,

(Image from
Babak A. Parviz, a bionanotechnology expert at the University of Washington in Seattle, has released a report detailing just where the bionic eye (or at least the augmented vision contact lens) technology is at right now, and it’s pretty amazing. Not only is augmented vision possible – prototypes are being tested right now

How long till Augmented ID happens on a head-up display in front of your eyes?

More from Gajitz here and from the BioMedical section of Spectrum IEEE Magazine here
(HT to Katy Lindemann for pointing out the AR contact lens news)

UPDATE: According to Jeremiah Owyang, LinkedIn are planning to integrate facial recognition technology into their apps by 2011.

Using mobile devices, users can quickly hold a device up a cell phone in front of a peer to see their LinkedIn data –without even having a conversation.


Charles Frith said...

It's that deja vu thing all over again. About three years ago I was having a discussion on a blog with someone on a different continent and pointed out that mobile and random social profiling was just around the corner. And here it is. Personally, I'd prerer to read a bit about someone before I talk to them. Get a feel for them as a person and so I'd love to walk the Earth with my profile available to all who find it interesting.

Love the contacts thing. Wow. Missed that over at Katy's blog.

Graeme Wood said...

Folk have been talking about the potential for this kind of thing for years, but it suddenly seems to have crept up - the potential for loose affinity ties, meeting friends of friends of friends, generally introducing more interestingness into the world means that public profile sharing must be a good thing.... but then most of my avatars are not pictures of me, so I must have a subconscious need for anonymity in public spaces online to some degree....

Not sure if Katy's blogged this yet - it's in some of her Robots stuff but I didn't have the link

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