With the release of iOS 4, Apple has erased many of the advantages competing platforms — most notably Android — had previously enjoyed. But while much noise has been made about the iPhone’s new multitasking trick, news that the iPhone can now use image recognition to create a more accurate augmented-reality experience has been far less trumpeted.
Maybe that’s because it’s not really an ability of the iPhone itself, but rather an API that Apple has made available to app developers with the release of iOS 4.
It works like this: The app uses a particular API to capture live video from the iPhone’s camera, then shunts the feed back to servers that use image-recognition software to figure out what the iPhone is looking at; the server then sends a graphic (or graphics) back to the iPhone that’s overlayed onto what the user is looking at (we’ve got instructions on how to easily demo the new tech later on in this post).
Theoretically it’s better than the old-school version of augmented reality, which has to use the iPhone’s compass, GPS and accelerometers to sorta-kinda guess what the iPhone’s looking at — which works well enough, but can be imprecise at times and requires all three sensors to be functioning correctly, which isn’t always the case (say, in a spot where the GPS receiver is having a hard time getting a fix, or near a big chunk of steel — like a car — which throws the compass off).
One of the first devs to bring this technology to the iPhone is Metaio, which has been using this tech in its apps for other platforms. They’re calling the new feature “Junaio Glue,” and it’s available in the latest update of their AR app, Junaio.
Want to check it out? Here’s what to do:
1. Grab your iPhone 3Gs or 4 that’s been updated to iOS4 (it won’t work under any other conditions). You’ll also need either the wifi or 3g on and connected.
2. Download the free Junaio app here and install it.
3. Find “Juniao Glue” under either the “New” or “Featured” channels.
4. Initailize the live image-recognition feature by hitting the detect button on the bottom of the screen.
5. Now point the iPhone’s camera at the big superhero-looking guy in the image above