Epic Australian journey gets remixed for smartphone era

Inside Tracks by photographer and publisher Rick Smolan makes use of the Aurasma smartphone app to bring some of the photos to life. Photo: Against All Odds Productions
Inside Tracks by photographer Rick Smolan makes use of the Aurasma smartphone app to bring some of the photos to life. Photo: Against All Odds Productions

Rick Smolan, creator of the Day in the Life series, has made a career out of turning complicated ideas into groundbreaking photography books. His latest book is more personal — and equally innovative. It’s a collection of photographs he made in 1977 that seemingly come to life with a smartphone app.

Inside Tracks combines Smolan’s photographs of a woman’s trek across the Australian Outback with a smartphone app that, when pointed at one of the pictures, brings the reader to a corresponding scene from a movie about the epic journey.

“It’s the best book I’ve ever done,” said Smolan, a New York Times best-selling author. “It has done amazingly well, especially for it being self-published. The smartphone feature has fascinated people. It’s an inspiring story with cool technology.”

Aurasma Lets Furries And Five-Year-Olds Create Their Own Augmented Reality [MWC 2012]

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Aurasma marketing boss Tamara Roukaerts fights Lion-O
Aurasma marketing boss Tamara Roukaerts fights Lion-O. Cheetara won

BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — When I first spotted the Aurasma booth, I thought it was yet another annoying app to serve ads on top of the real world, using augmented reality. And it actually is. Only before I could walk away, I got caught by the enthusiastic marketing folks and found out that the app is actually very cool indeed.

Aurasma is a kind of cross between augmented reality and Instagram. It works like this: You point the app at anything: a painting, a product package, a building, and Aurasma will remember it. You then pick a video or photo or a 3-D rendering to show up over that real-world scene whenever you point your iPhone’s camera at it again.