[Austria] Mobilizy, the company from Salzburg, that brought us one of the world’s first Augmented Reality browsers, Wikitude, just released a major upgrade which crosses that significant line between technology and its effects in the ‘real’ world. Their idea was to build a virtual memorial in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. and the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City. The result will be the ability to point their Android and iPhone application at the place where the World Trade Center once stood and witness a 3D rendering of the Twin Towers, once more.
This may well appear at first to be an unwise, and possibly disrespectful, idea. However, Philipp Breuss-Schneeweis, one of Wikitude’s founders, was actually in New York during the attacks. He says the idea of reviving the World Trade Center within the Wikitude World Browser 3D was a personal one. He obviously feels it’s going to be received as a respectful remembrance, not as a slight on the memory of those who died.
The effect was made possible by upgrading Wikitude’s Android App to 3D and it’s newly released iPhone app, out today (here from iTunes in the US only). From now on anyone in New York, using an AR enabled mobile phone, has the ability to see a virtual World Trade Center through the phone’s display. Wikitude demo shows how a “Memorial of light” at Ground Zero could be the next-generation of ‘virtual’ memorials. View a full video demonstration of this after the jump.
Layar, another AR player, released it’s 3D browser a couple of weeks ago, providing basically the same functionality as Wikitude, though it is not yet on the iPhone. There are only a handful of AR apps for the iPhone right now, such as Bionic Eye.
Like Wikitude, Layar also provides an API that could enable others to build applications like this, but geo-tagging within apps – enabling a memorial like the one above – is not fully possible with Layar’s technology as yet.
The Wikitude iPhone app, featuring overlays from from Wikipedia, Qype and Tripwolf, is available in the US store but it is not available in all stores yet – including Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Swiss and the UK. Apple remains somewhat insecure about AR Apps.