tracking augmented reality

AR Restaurant Browsers Review


It’s been a little more than a month (or is it two?) since mobile AR apps have started to make an appearance on the mobile market. And, it’s clearly not making that big of a buzz as a lot of AR developers and future forecasters were drumming it up to be back in early August. Not a big surprise, as these apps are really quite limited in their functionalities. Our biggest peeve: why overlay geo-data on camera view when it’s not all that accurate and it’s easier to use with a vector map view anyway? Having said that though, we’ll acknowledge that it has to start somewhere.

Augmented Planet, an extensive AR blog, has just posted a review of AR browsers. The author used several browsers to locate his local Indian restaurants, and the results are really not that great. Read the details here:

Here’s a bit of summary from the post:

Layar: “Out of all the applications tested Layar local search performed the best with the least amount of data errors, of the 8 restaurants shown I only spotted 2 that were misplaced in residential areas.”

Robotvision: “..The app however lists JPF Drum Tuition and Olga Piano Tuition as local Indian restaurants as well as plotting restaurants in residential streets. The augmented reality view has a number of problems, for starters there is no compass to tell you where things are making it really hard to find anything. The other problem is if places are close together then its impossible to select all but the front option”

Yelp: the two benchmark restaurants were relocated on the map and vanished from the map, respectively. “One last comment about the AR view is it’s so unresponsive, items in the view sit around regardless of where you point the camera then gradually slide away. Yelp is not without it’s mapping errors, further afield from my home location I noticed missplaced pubs, Chinese resturants and even a few resturants placed on the motoway.”

“UrbanSpoon surprisingly for an application that is dedicated to eating and finding restaurants performed the worst with the most mapping errors. Brashwamy’s is completely missing despite having submitted it via the applications add a restaurant function several weeks back. Sharod is shown but also located in completely the wrong location.

Putting the application in to AR mode has a useful feature where the restaurants are represented by a bubble with the bubble colour reflecting the customer feedback. Clicking the bubble you can get the phone number, vote or add a menu with your camera. It’s just a shame that the data is so inaccurate that you’ll never be able to find the restaurant to see if it lives up to its hype.”

Granted we’re still in the early days of AR and the technology still need a little time to mature, but erratic data and bad user experience like these, if it becomes a norm with AR app, then we’ll be reduced to merely using AR as advertising gimmicks and this promised ‘terminator vision’ could very well fizzle away. Anyone remember VRML?

November 10th, 2009

Posted in Locative AR, Mobile, Tech

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