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5 Augmented Reality Apps That Make You Feel Like a Superhero

5 Augmented Reality Apps That Make You Feel Like a Superhero

Fighting Crime | Every Superhero Out There

To many people, augmented reality (AR) is still a science fiction-like concept; Something they´ve seen in the movies. Objects can be conjured out of thin air, while overlapping and interacting with the reality that is recognized by a portable device’s camera or GPS-system. Google’s wearable augmented reality glasses can be used for instant navigation, while some smartphone apps could be of great importance while fighting crime. What would superheroes use? 

spotcrimeFighting crime is something every superhero needs to occupy himself with every once in a while. But in order to do so, crime must first be spotted. That’s where you come in. The app SpotCrime, launched by the creators of SpotCrime.com, displays the specific crimes that have occurred in your immediate region.  Making use of your phone’s GPS system, SpotCrime shows a map with different colors and icons for different kinds of crime. The clenched fist icon means assault, the rifle scope tells you there has been a shooting. Some updates are pretty specific (“SEATTLE – Caller Saw a Man On Their Apartment Floor Who Had a Bloody Lip and Said It Was a Result of a Domestic Dispute That Involved a Knife”) while others only contain a few keywords (“BALTIMORE –Theft”).

Currently, SpotCrime is comprised of approximately 8 million crime records of the United States, Canada and the UK. “The more people are aware of what’s occurring in their communities, the higher the chance that community will be proactive in the fight against crime,” says founder Colin Drane. “SpotCrime is a strong proponent of open data and government transparency. Our goal in making crime data available to anyone who wants it is to improve community safety by promoting mutual trust between law enforcement and the public. Ultimately, we believe this will help to lower crime rates and increase the public’s peace of mind.”

What about the violation of privacy? According to this study, SpotCrime acknowledges the sensitivity in the reporting of crimes by partially redacting address information, and does not offer search categories such as “rape” or “child abuse”. However, because the app uses Google Streetview, it isn’t very difficult to check where a reported crime has taken place – something the developers should take into consideration when improving their app in the future.

Inside the War Machine Mask | Iron Man
Some apps were actually created to make you feel like a superhero. Web app “I Am Iron Man 2″, which was developed as a marketing tool for the movie in 2010, allows fans to step into Iron Man’s shoes. Fans can “try on” both the Iron Man (the suit) and the War Machine Mask (the heads-up display). You can also get inside the helmet and check out a view that (until today) was only available to Mr. Stark.

Prefer Batman to Iron Man? Then you’ll probably like “The Dark Knight Rises Z+”. What’s special about this augmented app is that it does not focus on vision, like most, but on audio. Just plug in your earphones, and you will know what it sounds like to wander the streets of Gotham City. How it works: the app picks up sounds from real environments, and then blends them with the soundtrack of the movie. If you move, the sound changes and adapts to your movement. If you are in a quiet environment it plays music specifically designed for that situation. “This new app allows users to be part of the film in a way that goes beyond the movie screen,” said Hans Zimmer, who created the movie’s sountrack, in a statement. “It’s the difference between looking at a photo of a river and being able to drop your hand over the side of the boat and feel the currents of the water tug as the river takes you on a journey.”

cypherSpeaking All Languages | Cypher
How cool would it be to be able to speak and understand all languages? Marvel Comics’ Cypher (alter ego: Douglas Ramsey), member of the New Mutants, is blessed with this skill. Because of his “active psionic translation field”, he intuitively translates any languages he comes into contact with.

Real life technology isn’t quit there yet, but there are some nice “instant translation” apps which are already available. Word Lens, for example, enables you to translate texts with the help of a camera lens. Just scan the word or sentence you would like to translate, and on your mobile device it will appear in the language of your choosing. Founder Otavo Good explains the app’s process simply, “It tries to find out what the letters are and then looks in the dictionary. Then it draws the words back on the screen in translation.” Word Lens currently enables you to translate French, Spanish and Italian words into English (or the other way around). What’s also convenient: your device does not have to be connected to the network in order to function.

Does this mean you can now read One Hundred Years of Solitude in its original language? No. The app is more suitable for translating menus or road signs. “The translation isn’t perfect, but it gets the point across,” says Good.

To many people, augmented reality (AR) is still a science fiction-like concept; Something they´ve seen in the movies. Objects seemingly conjured out of thin air, while overlapping and interacting with the reality that is recognized by a portable device’s camera or GPS-system. Google’s wearable augmented reality glasses can be used for instant navigation, while some smartphone apps could be of great importance while fighting crime.

Daredevil would have liked this app: “SightFinder,” an application meant to assist the visually impaired,  currently being developed by Japanese company NTT. Its image and sound recognition technology is cloud-based, meaning SightFinder sends streaming images from a camera to one of NTT’s data centers to recognize and identify street signs or potential obstacles. Using GPS and Bluetooth, the technology will then send real time alerts, warnings, and directions to the user’s smartphone. It’s pretty much a guide dog and a white cane in one.

Since GPS does not work indoors, another Japanese company (NICT ) decided to create a technology that helps the blind to navigate while inside the house. This support system makes use of the  the ability of impulse radio (ultra wide band) to measure distances. How it works:  a few base stations are positioned across an indoor area, while the user and the PC function as mobile stations.

The base stations measure distance between all mobile stations whereas the control PC calculates and gives the positioning data in real time. This data is then sent to the user’s mobile via Bluetooth. Then the user receives audio instructions for directions to the destination.

Having X-ray Vision | Batman
Most people would like to have x-ray vision for one simple reason: to be able to see through other people’s clothes. Having x-ray vision, however, can also come in handy if you’re not a pervert.

The notion of having X-ray vision, the or the ability to virtually “see through” one surface to what is hidden from view, is one of the most intriguing capabilities of augmented reality systems. Google is currently developing wearable augmented reality glasses, which will enable the user to “see” reality with an extra layer of information on top. Imagine for example looking at the Coliseum in Rome. Without the glasses, you will just see bricks and stones; a ruin. But look through the glasses, and the Coliseum will appear the way it once was during Roman times.

But “x-ray vision” applications can be used for more than just sight seeing. In 2009, researcher Yaser Sheikh developed a technology that makes it possible for a driver to see what’s around the corner. The system uses two cameras to make this X-ray vision trick possible. One is placed around the corner and captures the street view over there. The other one needs to match the driver’s view, so it is preferably placed in the car. When both images are synced together and super-imposed, the driver can actually see through the wall. The technology is not on the market yet, but might be in the future.

Source: NewScientist

Image: Argyll-pcrescue

Seeing Without Eyes | Daredevil
Daredevil would have liked this app: “SightFinder,” an application meant to assist the visually impaired,  currently being developed by Japanese company NTT.

Its image and sound recognition technology is cloud-based, meaning SightFinder sends streaming images from a camera to one of NTT’s data centers to recognize and identify street signs or potential obstacles. Using GPS and Bluetooth, the technology will then send real time alerts, warnings, and directions to the user’s smartphone. It’s pretty much a guide dog and a white cane in one.

Since GPS does not work indoors, another Japanese company (NICT ) decided to create a technology that helps the blind to navigate while inside the house. This support system makes use of the  the ability of impulse radio (ultra wide band) to measure distances. How it works:  a few base stations are positioned across an indoor area, while the user and the PC function as mobile stations.

The base stations measure distance between all mobile stations whereas the control PC calculates and gives the positioning data in real time. This data is then sent to the user’s mobile via Bluetooth. Then the user receives audio instructions for directions to the destination.

Image Credit: Flickr/lettawren

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