Agencies innovate with augmented reality apps
NARA, Army among agencies that use new augmented apps
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Dec 21, 2010
Picture a photograph of the Washington Monument, and in the photo’s
center is a framed historic image of the same monument while under
construction: a photo-within-a-photo.
That photo's from the National Archives and Records Administration’s new augmented reality photo contest where entrants are encouraged to juxtapose historical and new images in the same frame.
The contest is one of several federal government-focused applications
that use augmented reality technologies and principles. In augmented
reality, a geographic location in real life is overlaid with data about
the location, such as geographic data, historic data or statistical
data, often in a mobile application. For example, the popular iPhone
application Word Lens offers instant language translation for users who
point the phone at a sign written in a foreign language.
Mobile augmented reality is a growing technology that's predicted to
expand in 2011, according to a Dec. 17 report by Forrester Research. “In
the years to come, it will be a disruptive technology that changes the
way consumers interact with their environments,” report author Thomas
Government's location-specific apps need clear context
At NARA, the “History Happens Here!” online photo competition is
advertised as augmented reality application that “allows you to see
history in your reality.” Sixteen entries have been submitted to the
contest’s Flickr site. The 20 winning photos
will be printed in a postcard book to be sold at NARA's gift shop.
In one entry, an image of the Capitol steps is overlaid with an
historic image of President John F. Kennedy and his family descending
those same steps. In another, an image of the White House fence is shown
in a mashup with a historic photograph of suffragettes demonstrating at
that same location during President Woodrow Wilson’s tenure.
Other augmented reality applications related to government agencies include:
- According to officials quoted in a report in
Army Times, the Army is evaluating smart phone applications for
soldiers both in the classroom and on the battlefield. The smart phones
could let soldiers view real-time intelligence and video from unmanned
systems overhead, and track friends and enemies on a dynamic map, the officials said.
- Sunlight Labs and Layar collaborated on a mashup of
Layar’s augmented reality platform as a way of presenting Recovery.gov
data on spending from the $780 billion economic stimulus law of 2009.
- Sunlight Labs created the Congress augmented
reality application for Android smart phones, which enables users to use the
phone’s location to automatically identify a congressional district.
The contest deadline is Jan. 21.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.