NTT DoCoMo Demos Augmented Reality Apps for Mobile Phone

Jul 25, 2009 14:13 Shinya Saeki, Nikkei Electronics

NTT DoCoMo Inc demonstrated mobile phone applications software using augmented reality (AR) technology at Wireless Japan 2009, which took place from July 22 to 24, 2009, at Tokyo Big Sight.

For the demonstration, the company used the HT-03A, a mobile phone that is manufactured by High Tech Computer Corp of Taiwan and was released as one of NTT DoCoMo’s summer 2009 models and as the first Android-based handset in Japan.

The applications software utilize the GPS function, camera, magnetic field sensor and acceleration sensor of the HT-03A. For example, information on shops is superimposed on the real images shot by the camera.

NTT DoCoMo unveiled three applications, which are « Intuitive Search and Navigation, » « Friend Radar » and « Throwing Mail. » Intuitive Search and Navigation displays the icons of shops, etc on the images shot with the built-in camera. It is possible to select a genre from restaurant, clothing store, accommodation and so forth as well as to run a search in each category.

When the display of the handset is horizontal to the ground, it shows a detailed map. And if an icon is selected on the display, it starts navigating the user to that place.

Friend Radar shows the whereabouts of the user’s friends who are in the frame of the picture taken by the camera as icons like speech balloons. It is necessary to register friends to be located before using this function.

Throwing Mail enables to send a message to a friend by wielding a handset, as if throwing it, in the direction of his or her location. The distance that the message can reach varies depending on the accelerated velocity detected by the acceleration sensor. The message can be read only by registered friends.

The shop information for the applications is provided by Zenrin Co Ltd, Gourmet Navigator Inc and Recruit Co Ltd while Shobunsha Publications Inc offers the map data.

NTT DoCoMo has not yet decided the date to launch the service.

« To begin the service, we have to increase the number of mobile terminals equipped with a GPS function, acceleration sensor and magnetic field sensor, » the company said. « In addition, users do not often hold up a handset unless they are taking pictures or movies. We have to change the negative image of that motion so that they are not misunderstood as secretly taking pictures. »

The trial versions of the applications can be downloaded from NTT DoCoMo’s Website, « Everybody’s DoCoMo Laboratory. » And they can be used with the HT-03A.

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