November’s iPhone and Smartphone Publisher and Developer Night was another triumph, an Augmented Reality Special. 24 was kitted out in its Christmas garb, and once again thanks to Yuza Mobile for loan of the space. An audience of about 100 people turned out to see two excellent presenters:
Ravi Damani is the co-Founder of acrossair. He talked about his most famous app, Nearest Tube, which uses geolocation to orient the user to the nearest underground station. The app uses the iPhone’s native ability to know where it is, to know which way it is facing and to understand how it is being tilted. It calls for data from the Nearest Tube servers for the nearest station and for directions for how to get there, and superimposes the data it retrieves on top of the image from the camera. The app can then guide the user to the station, following the directions on the screen.
Mark Cummins spoke about PlinkArt, his Art Indentification app. Take a shot of a painting, and the app searches the PlinkArt database for images that match. Three seconds later, it returns the name of the painting, along with information about the artist.
Mark is a PHD student who specialised in image recognition, and the things he has learned are rolled into PlinkArt. The same algorithms would work on anything which has a hard surface – he said it wouldn’t work on something like a handbag, which is bendable. With PlinkArt, all the hard work is done on the server, not within the phone, which allows Mark and his team to develop the same application for platforms other than the iPhone: it has been ported to Android, and other platforms are in development.
Both Ravi and Mark made the point that the sticking point with all these applications is accessing the datasets. As Tim O’Reilly says, Data is the Intel Inside of the next generation of applications.