With three smartphones on the market: iPhone, Android and Pre; the opportunities for augmented reality apps have opened up. 

I asked a couple of AR developers what they wanted from smartphones and I recieved some interesting answers.  I’ve summarized the information for easier digestion.

Processing Power:  Overall processing power is at a usable level, but more is always better.  With the ability to use cloud computing, the heavy lifting can be done by processors not in the phone.

Graphics: High quality graphics with acceleration to achieve good frames per second (fps) and resolution will be needed for real time image processing.  This will be especially important for AR smartphone game developers.

Integrated Camera: Most thought the cameras were fine, but like processing power, can always be better.

Other Hardware: GPS, compass, accelerometer and tilt sensors are all useful for direction finding. 

Software: Developing apps for multiple platforms (iPhone, Android and Pre) due to the varying nature of their specific phones (processor speed, camera functions, etc) is challenging.  So platform designers should make sure the SDK (Software Development Kit) are easy-to-use and have good APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to access the video stream. 

Power: AR requires lots of graphics which is an energy-hog, so smartphones should be efficient. 

All these requested features aren’t yet available in total, but each smartphone is moving in the right direction.  For instance, the new iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre both have cameras that don’t give fuzzy pictures like the initial iPhone release one year ago. 

While its easy to be a kid before Christmas and ask for lots of things you know you won’t get (yet).  I liked what Seinichi Kanemura from Sein Blog had to say about smartphone development:

So what is next step of AR application?
I do believe that it will be not full AR.
It would be something semi-AR application.
Otherwise, just limited users who have high literacy in IT will love it.
So I focus on easy & simple AR application.
Probably, I’ll write the entry on my blog within a few months.

Very much a pragmatist about the development of a technology still in its infancy.  Looking forward to his next blog entry. 

Special thanks to Farooq, Sein and Jan from Metaio for answering my questions.


Thomas K. Carpenter

Thomas K. Carpenter is a full time contemporary fantasy author with over 50 independently published titles. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 25 books and counting. His stories focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures.

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