Microsoft has applied for a patent for 'augmented reality cloud computing' that appears to cover the functionality used in popular mobile augmented reality apps such as Layar.
US patent application number 20100257252, published on Thursday, was applied for on 1 April 2009. It describes "techniques for capturing and analyzing information gathered by a mobile device equipped with one or more sensors", where "recognition and tracking software and localisation techniques may be used to extrapolate pertinent information about the surrounding environment and transmit the information to a service that can analyse the transmitted information".
"In one embodiment, when a user views a particular object or landmark on a device with image capture capability, the device may be provided with information through a wireless connection via a database that may provide the user with rich metadata regarding the objects in view," the application reads. "Information may be presented through rendering means such as a web browser, rendered as a 2D overlay on top of the live image, and rendered in augmented reality."
Augmented reality (AR) is becoming widely used on camera-equipped smartphones to display filtered information about the user's surroundings. For example, Layar provides access to 'layers' that are specific to certain uses, such as finding sites of architectural interest or the locations of nearby Twitter users.
The technology is also becoming key to a new generation of internet marketing schemes, which range from providing AR-recognisable objects on advertising posters to overlaying nearby stores on the user's mobile mapping service.