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"Terminator Vision" Is Here For the iPhone 245

musefrog writes "The BBC is reporting that so-called augmented reality has arrived — in the UK at least. From the article: 'Via the video function of a mobile phone's camera it is now possible to combine a regular pictorial view with added data from the internet just as the fictional Terminator was able to overlay its view of the world with vital information about its surroundings. For example, UK-firm Acrossair has launched an application for the iPhone which allows Londoners to find their nearest tube station using their iPhone.' The page features an impressive video demonstrating AR in action."
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"Terminator Vision" Is Here For the iPhone

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  • by nacturation ( 646836 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <noitarutcan>> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:29AM (#29024133) Journal

    Does the Terminator vision for the iPhone also overlay Apple II assembly code []?

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Well, that explains why he failed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by musikit ( 716987 )

      can someone photoshop up an apple logo crossed with a terminator head (like terminator 4 did with the city) so we can use that for apple stories since we use the borg for MS stories.

      that way you can choose your cyborgic death.

      • Cyborgic death? Sounds Swedish.
        • Cyborgic death? Sounds Swedish.

          Finnish, actually. They should be touring with M.A.D (Mutually Assured Destruction) and Methane Implosion this summer (if the equipment survives the tour)

          Not quite as big as Metalocolypse, but in the same vein.

      • by Kz ( 4332 )

        can someone photoshop up an apple logo crossed with a terminator head

        i thought you were referring to the evil robocop vision overlay, which was a resedit (an early mac developer tool) menu with the apple menu at the top left replaced by a skull.

    • I am disappointed that nobody referenced to "Eden of the East" or "Dennou Coil". Why does it always have to be terminator/matrix references?

    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

      Your post, while of course funny, tells one thing about "terminator vision" those writing such news forget about - it was a MOVIE! (if you think about it, there's no reason why such robot would put human-readable info on top of its filed of view, but plenty against it) And how many real life GUIs are similar to monstrosities from movie makers?

      We need to find some better term for those headlines...

  • Hud? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:30AM (#29024149)

    WHEN will we have a practical HUD or other type of head mounted display?

    They always seem to be "almost ready". Frankly, I am ready to be a Gargoyle.

    • Like this one for airplanes? VirtualHUD []

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 )

        More of a head mounted display. For years (decades?) there have been a stream of funky helmets and various types of modified eyeglass and goggle type gadgets. They always seem to be "coming out next year", but then, the company folds.

        Is there really no demand for these? Other than me...

        • Re:Hud? (Score:5, Informative)

          by wjsteele ( 255130 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:25PM (#29024927)
          There are three basic problems with HMD style displays.

          1.) Single eye solutions confuse the brain after a short period of time. The brain tries to correlate both eyes input and can't, so it starts dropping information. That causes tremendous problems because the brain doesn't know which information is appropriate to drop. Using a two-eye HMD solves that problem.

          2.) The other problem is that the brain is very perceptive of information that doesn't actually coorelate to the real world. Think about an artifical horizon that doesn't quite keep up to speed with the real horizon that the pilot sees. That slight delay error will cause problems for the pilot similar to the above, where the brain quits using and relying on that information.

          3.) The last problem is the biggest. How do you get an image focused at infinity. The traditional way is to use fancy optics to lengthen the path from the emitter to the eye to make it appear that the image is beyond 6' or so. Getting that done is very tricky and bulky. Just putting an image on the lens isn't enough... it must be presented in such a way that they pilot has a reduced work load (on the eye muscles) so that it is not a tiring experience.

          I see that VirtualHUD as quite an innovative solution for that problem because, 1.) it's aready presented to both eyes simultaneously and 2.) it's focused at infinity (or darn close to it) by default. Generally the propeller is already far enough away from the pilot.

          • by Bertie ( 87778 )

            Did you know Apache pilots train to be able to move and focus both their eyes independently, like a chameleon, so that they can look at the HUD and the view out the window at the same time? Don't ask me how they do it, but they do.

      • by cheros ( 223479 )

        Amusingly appropriate to display a plane HUD on an internal propeller :-)

        • by M-RES ( 653754 )
          Internal? No, no, you've misunderstood - that HUD system projects onto the back of the plane's propellor (external). Go read it again, it's way cool.
    • Re:Hud? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:50AM (#29024453) Homepage

      It seems to me that the real hindrance is in getting a transparent display into a set of glasses. By this, I don't mean getting a bulky display mounted on the outside of a set of glasses, but in getting a transparent display built directly into the lenses, such that when the display is turned off, it's just a set of glasses.

      I think we'll start to see real products once we can build both those sorts of lenses and a camera into a set of glasses, and not have them be too ridiculously heavy, bulky, and ugly. Also, it can't be too expensive.

      People keep saying it's "almost ready" because there are practical and functional HUDs, but they all require this bulky machinery to be strapped to your head in a way that looks stupid. For geeks or specialized purposes (e.g. soldiers in combat, who are carrying heavy equipment anyway and care more about functionality than looks) that's all fine. But it won't be productized until people can walk down the street wearing them and still look cool.

      • by noundi ( 1044080 )

        People keep saying it's "almost ready" because there are practical and functional HUDs, but they all require this bulky machinery to be strapped to your head in a way that looks stupid.

        This was almost ten years ago. []

        • Isn't that just a camera strapped to the glasses? Cameras are easy. It's the displays that are hard.

          Or are you talking about piping the image directly into people's brains? That's fairly invasive and dangerous, and not perfected in a way that would allow us to put high-resolution overlays onto the images already being transmitted from your eyes.

      • You can get a long way towards the goal with OLED displays. I've posted about that before.

        You can get OLED displays that are flexible as well as partly transparent, so you've already built the display into the glasses. Obviously compute functionality needs to be elsewhere, as you don't want to have too much weight hanging on your ears and nose. The DPI probably needs to increase on them as well, before they get really good.

        As for how to see what is being displayed without removing your focus from the 'backg

        • Obviously that'd require that your compute device knows where you're looking, but we already have technology for that. Not sure about the size though.

          Yeah, I think this is ultimately another piece of the "bulk" that needs to be figured out. I think to make the system work very well, we'll need to have multiple cameras. We would probably be well server to have at least four, 2 looking out at the world so the computer can analyze depth, and one on each eye. You could have one on both eyes, but it's hard to figure where you could mount cameras on your glasses such that it could have an unobstructed view of both eyes at the same time.

          I think eye-tracking

      • Re:Hud? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by just fiddling around ( 636818 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:35PM (#29025075) Journal

        I can't currently find a better link than wikipedia, but there is a class of HUDs that are called "Visual retinal displays []" that project the HUD info on the retina of the wearer. I have read about a system that uses a very low power laser and a micro-mirror to paint on the retina; the system can be integrated in the glasses' branches. Of course, there is still a need for control hardware somewhere, but it can be remote (ex.: on the hip)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'm going to throw out my billion-dollar idea, in hopes that it gets made, because I don't have the connections to make it happen:

        It's a new video game system based on Augmented Reality. You wear these special goggles that show you the world around you, but it's altered in real time. That cardboard tube in your hand becomes a sword, other players appear dressed in armored suits. Creatures float around the actual landscape around you. You play IN THE REAL WORLD with and against projected objects, people, a
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Not to rain on your parade, but I had this idea about ten years ago, which leads me to think:

          1. About a million other people have also already had this idea.

          2. At least a few of those million are programmers currently working on it.

          Another idea would be to integrate a HUD with the internet so businesses could overlay meta-information about their store as you're walking down the street (restaurant menus, hours of operation, upcoming performers, etc).

          Again, probably a million others have already thought of th

      • Re:Hud? (Score:5, Funny)

        by wgoodman ( 1109297 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:40PM (#29026131)
        anyone else notice the BBC player's volume goes to 11?
    • I'd like to see more HUDs in cars, honestly, if they can pair that with some head movement or something, it would
    • Re:Hud? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lallander ( 968402 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:27PM (#29024961)
      I think what you are looking for is an EyeTap. [] []
    • Well, everything you need for this, exists. The only question is how good it works.

      You need:
      * GPS
      * Accelerometer
      * Camera
      * graphics processor
      * internet connection
      * mapping software
      * panorama software
      * database to store geolocations with gps position in 3d space

      That's it. All of that works right now. You can start now and program that HUD yourself.

      The only problems right now, are expensive mobile internet connections and the bad resolution of GPS, which can only get 3 meters with A-GPS, and 10 m without.
      I kno

    • A HUD is exactly what I pictured here, but in an abstract kind of way. It wasn't bad enough to have the Apple dorks running around flashing their little iPhones at everyone, now they will be running around with them glued over one eye asking everyone if they have seen Sarah Conner.

  • What was the name of the story where the guy stumbled upon a pair of sunglasses that showed the plans for some Asian conglomerate to rebuild a city? (L.A. I think?) I don't know if it was a novel or part of a collection. I'm leaning towards collection - and included was a story about a guy being chased by some killing machine thing that moved slowly but never stopped so he always had to stay on the move. Others were typical cyberpunk stuff - I'm googling away but can't track it down.

  • []

    i cant wait till they have Governator in the iPhone ads!

  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:36AM (#29024241)
    Eventually, it seems possible that mobile phones might play the role of a kind of supplementary brain - Toshinao Sasaki

    I think it would have the opposite effect, and make a generation of cell phone users even dumber.
    • by MrMista_B ( 891430 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:50AM (#29024431)

      I think that using tools makes people smarter, not dumber.

      Unpopular opinion on slashdot, I know, but I just don't know why.

      • by Zakabog ( 603757 ) <john@j[ ] ['mau' in gap]> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:56AM (#29024541)

        I think that using tools makes people smarter, not dumber.

        Smarter in that they know how to use the tools. Dumber in that they don't know how to get by without them.

        • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:28PM (#29024975)
          The whole progression of mankind is based on increasing specialization - that is, increasing interdependence on each other, because no person alive actually understands all the steps of producing all the technology we use every single day. For better or worse, this trend is unlikely to reverse.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

          I've always wondered if intelligence might not ended up moving from individuals into society as a whole. Essentially the rules in society would be simple and we'd be like cellular automata dumbly following them.

          The best example is lawsuits. Companies will go to great lengths to protect stupid customers because they are scared of getting sued. Rather than individuals protecting themselves from harm it's like the system 'knows' not to expose them to it. Still neither the customers, or the lawyers or even the

        • I can't wait for the starchild to be born...
        • Smarter in that they know how to use the tools. Dumber in that they don't know how to get by without them.

          I could learn to life barefoot and wrapped in animal skins, but I'd prefer to accept that I don't want to.

      • I think that depends on the tool, it's function, the level of understanding of the user, and the definition of "smart" and "dumb."

        Using a calculator to do division very easily and quickly, but not knowing how to do it by hand and having to use a calculator yourself does not make you "smarter."

        It can allow you to do smarter things, but making it easier does not necessarily make you smarter. It allows for progression, but does not necessitate it. Sliderules didn't make anyone smarter, either.

        I think the rea

      • You are both right and wrong.

        It makes them more efficient.

        If they are getting smarter or dumber, is a different thing. It is controlled by your need to be smarter.
        As long as you are winning (in terms of physical and mental reproduction), you can become dumber.
        As long as you are losing, you have to become more intelligent.

        So will this give you an advantage against others? In the short term, sure. In the long them... no.
        Humanity as a whole will gain an advantage from it though.
        But there are two points of meas

      • No...

        Better tools make smart people more productive and dumb people lazier.

      • I think that using tools makes people smarter, not dumber.

        Making tools makes people smarter.

        Using tools at most just empowers people to do certain things which they would not do otherwise.

        That said, tools that replace certain abilities will result that people who use those tools loose said abilities or are less likely to gain them in the first place(how many people do you know from the newer generation that can calculate products and divisions in their heads?). This does make the less smart in that area, al

    • it depends on whether you count the brain as the whole, or the brain plus the augment as the whole.

    • by wurp ( 51446 )

      Yes, because Google, computers, calculators, and reading/writing have made us all so stupid...

    • Can't it be both? Smarter with the external compute-wear, but dependent on it when taken away. Charles Stross explores this a bit with the protagonist from the first few chapters of Accelerando.
  • GUI for a map. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:39AM (#29024273) Homepage
    That's all this really is - a fancy, visual Graphical User Interface, for a map.

    That is not an insult, it is a compliment. The best ideas are usually simple at heart.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by genner ( 694963 )

      That's all this really is - a fancy, visual Graphical User Interface, for a map.

      That is not an insult, it is a compliment. The best ideas are usually simple at heart.

      Exactly. The sad part is it would work just as well without the real-time video overlay. There's no practical need for this tech it's just looks cool.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      No, that's not true. This is an *application* of augmented reality. AR is the idea that computer interfaces can interlace with the environment. This isn't just a fancy way of managing a map, it's a method of interfacing with computational systems. This has the potential to change the way we use computers all together -- instead of phones, or PCs, people might have glasses which work as a personal assistant. This has the potential to be as important as the PC revolution.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:42AM (#29024321)
    The BBC video doesn't seem to work for me - I think this [] is the same.
  • Launched or not? (Score:4, Informative)

    by BenihanaX ( 1405543 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:43AM (#29024349)
    The article says it has launched.
    The summary says it has launched.
    The Acrossair page says they need beta testers.
    The app page (on the Acrossair site) says it will launch when Apple approves it.

    Does anyone know which is correct? I tend to believe it has already launched since the article and summary corroborate.

    Perhaps someone on the other side of the water could try to pull it up in the iTunes store.
    • Not launched yet, the app "Nearest Tube" is awaiting Apple approval...
      • I wonder if the delay is caused by the fact this will only work properly on a 3GS, since other iPhones don't include a compass. I'm not aware of any apps that require a specific model of iPhone (or even iPod Touch) at the moment despite the hardware differences.

        • I wonder if the delay is caused by the fact that this article is hype that invokes concepts like a Terminator style overlay in hopes of being Slashdotted.
        • There are plenty of apps that won't install on my 1G Touch because they "Require features not available"

          I'm assuming they make a similar distinction between 3G/3GS

    • OS 3.1 API in Beta (Score:2, Interesting)

      by geomobile ( 1312099 )
      This is done with an API method that is only available in iPhone OS 3.1 which is still in Beta. Consequently the App cannot be officially published in the App Store.

      There'll be a whole wave of Apps using this as soon as 3.1 is finally released.

      Oh, of course we're working on something, too: []. Not as fancy yet, but it has spaceships.
  • Camera? (Score:5, Informative)

    by RalphSleigh ( 899929 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:46AM (#29024399) Homepage

    Zoe Kleinman tries out Acrossair's software that uses a phone's camera to tell you where the nearest London Underground station is.

    It's using the phones GPS, compass and accelerometers to decide what to draw on the screen, NOT the camera, if you watch the video the bloke even says as much. Mush more impressive would be applications that can use what the camera sees by reading text/barcodes or recognising objects and combining it with GPS and internet data to offer more infomation on the world around us.

    • Re:Camera? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:50AM (#29024437)

      Yes, this, exactly. You could turn the camera off and overlay the same data over a blank screen, and it would make no difference.

      Its a fine app, but not nearly 'augmented reality', at least not by way of a camera or in the way depicted in the film.

    • Interestingly, such software exist. I have seen a library with a demo, some years ago, where they used a webcam, and the library automatically found fixed points on things. You were then able to name them, and add notes. When that object came into view later, that info box popped up. It even was able to recognize things that were relocated... As long as there was enough visual cue to know that it's the same object. Much like with the human brain.

      Unfortunately, I can't find the link anymore. Anyone care to p

  • I want to see a SatNav application for the iPhone that makes use of AR.

    I imagine mounting my iPhone on my dashboard with the camera pointing forwards and having the driving directions, road names/numbers, driving statistics etc superimposed over the top of the live images.

    This is probably unrealistic at the moment due to hardware limitations (sampling rate for the built in GPS, compass etc) but I'm sure we'll get there one day. It's probably more realistic that TomTom or similar will come out with a SatNav

  • I watched the video in TFA and another video of the same app on youtube [], and in both videos the iphone is moved very slowly. What happens if you turn quickly? Does the app completely lose it's place and heading? I would imagine most people wouldn't want to turn that slowly if they wanted to know where the subway behind them was.
    • Apparently it relies in a compass in the device, so my guess is it would regain its bearings even after a rapid turn. The accelerometers in the iPhone are way too crude for inertial navigation so I can't imagine it's based on that.
  • Heh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:56AM (#29024553)

    Best use of "Terminator Vision": Picking the right reply.

    "Say, buddy, ya got a dead cat in there?"

    (Decision List...)

    "Fuck you, asshole."

    • > (Decision List...)

      Even funnier was that I believe the original quote of the landlord was:

      " got a dead cat in there, or what?"

      And one of the response choices on the list was "Or what."

  • Plenty of cool applications to think off; the race is on to build the first Netscape of Augmented Reality, and then we can all quickly build a whole new World Wide Web.

    When visiting a new town just Google for a suitable set of layers.

    Tube stations, Tourist information (with guided tours), traffic, dating (heh! I'm available).... i'm sure that is just the beginning.

    Coincidently I Just finished reading Halting State (Charles Cross) [] -- set in Edinburgh 2017 AR was already standard -- in fact the protagonist ha

  • Is anyone else seeing this as a way for shopers to find out were the sales are happening? Either on the street or even in a store itself. This could be the replacement for the vanishing newspaper that stores need for their ads.

    Might also be really handy for finding houses of ill repute when traveling to other countries. :)

  • ...(all running Windows for AR of course) a few clever hackers will make themselves invisible [1]. A system that can add to reality can subtract from it as well.

    [1] Except to old people, but everyone knows they hallucinate.

  • I suspect you can "augment reality" for about 30 seconds, unless plugged in.
  • Judging from the video, the software doesn't use the camera at all. It uses the GPS and the compass. Overlaying the information over the camera is just eye candy. This is "augmented reality" in the same way that a satellite map is. Or displaying any information over a camera image. It sure feels cool though.

  • With the revelation of the iPhone SMS exploit at the last 'black hat' get together more 'hackers' will be looking for such flaws.

    I think it would be extremely funny if someone finds another bug and pushes out a 'Rule 34' update to every iPhone that would superimpose naughty things when people try and use their iPhone's camera. Extra points if it's kitty porn complaint.

    It will never happen though, crackers are only interested in getting paid now days. I miss the days of DOS virus coders....

  • by lattyware ( 934246 ) <> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:31PM (#29025033) Homepage Journal
    There have been a number of apps that do this on the Android platform for some time now. Has to be an iPhone app to get coverage of course. The BBC really annoy me with their tech coverage, the only things that ever get covered are microsoft/apple stories, or the whole violent video games thing.
  • I recall the MIT media lab doing location-sensitive overlays on video goggles (unable to find web page). These would be a lot like Google Map mashups. Having an iPhone and Google Map would simplify heir engineering- they wouldnt have to invesnt as much hardware from scratch as they did in their project.
  • I believe this might actually be enough to get me to buy an iPhone.
  • The StarWalk app does this as well, albeit for astronomical rather than terrestrial objects. It's just a shame that the accuracy of the iPhone compass is so appallingly low.

  • From what I've seen, It takes your compass heading, GPS location and combines tilt information to print text where the tube location should be.

    Using the camera's current viewfor a backdrop is just a cute trick that has nothing to do with the rest of the process, but they are basing all this "Augmented Reality" discussion on that little trick.

    The fact is, the iPhone has no where near the capability to dissect a picture and actually give you information on what's in it in real time--that would take some serio

  • Terrible demo (Score:3, Informative)

    by benwiggy ( 1262536 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @04:31PM (#29029335)
    "The page features an impressive video demonstrating AR in action."

    Impressive? The demo suggests that Oxford Circus and Great Portland Street are the nearest tube stations to Piccadilly Circus. It doesn't even mention .... Piccadilly Circus.

  • by Frobisher ( 677079 ) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @06:03PM (#29030603) Homepage
    How about an "augmented reality" Google Earth plug-in that would allow you to see EXACTLY what cities you're passing over from an airplane window? (Assuming you can be using your phone up there)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )

      I ahve said for years that airplanes should ahve a camera pointing down that the passengers and look through. Add AR to that and it's golden.

      Camera pointed up to, so you can AR varies astronomical sights.
      Tie in a display of aircraft near by just for interest.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.