Monday 20 July 2015

Merging Physical Realm with the Digital Realm and Leading a Real Smart Life - Part 2

Merging Physical Realm with the Digital Realm and Leading a Real Smart Life - Part 1

Near Field Communication (NFC):

This is the Next Generation RFID Tagging system. Unlike its predecessor NFC allows two-way communication between NFC Tag and NFC Reader. It has many novel usages and soon all Smart Phones will have NFC Readers inbuilt in them. The possibility of using this technology is infinite.

  • Device to Device:

One of the most common uses of NFC technology will be to do Data Transfer just by touching two NFC enabled devices. So, you can pair a phone with your friend just by touching the two phones. In case you need to access Wi-Fi, just touch the NFC enabled Router with your NFC enabled phone. Similarly, you can check out of Departmental Stores by touching your Smart Phone with the Billing Machine. Play games with your friend from two phones just by touching the two and pairing them.

  • NFC Tags:

NFC Tags are small Tags like RFID Tags which can have pre-programmed Data in them. It can even be a Call to Action. So, when you take your phone near a NFC Tag beside the product, without you having to do anything the NFC Tag will communicate with your phone and Digital Information will come to your phone in form of a Video or Picture or Customer Review. You can do many other things with a NFC Tag. While going out of home tap the NFC Tag on the doorway with your phone and phone will switch from Wi-Fi Internet to Mobile Internet, the NFC Tag was programmed to Call for that Action in your Smart Phone. You can send a traditional greeting card to your friend and when he or she touches the phone with the NFC Tag on the card, his or her favourite song can start playing from YouTube. The possibilities are just endless.

  • NFC Apps:

There are already a bunch of NFC Apps out there for NFC enabled phones as NFC is gradually gaining popularity.

  • GoogleWallet:

It's been sometime that Google incorporated NFC in its payment App. So, you can check out in stores just by touching your phone with the NFC Readers installed in stores. It will charge your Credit Card without you having to do much at all.

  • Trigger:

This is a NFC Tag programming App. So, with this App you can program the NFC Tag to execute many Call-to-Action protocols. After creating a Trigger, you must touch the NFC Tag with your phone and the Tag will get programmed. Now you can send the Tag in a Greeting Card or paste it to the doorway as explained above.

  • NFC Tools:

This is another popular NFC Reader cum Writer so that you can both read and write NFC Tags with your phone.


This innovation is coming from the house of Apple, targeted at iPhone users and Departmental Store Franchises. Imagine the iBeacons as Wi-Fi like digital signals emitting from a Department Store. When you are crossing the store, your phone detects the signal and communicates with the iBeacon Emitting Device. The device then pushes a message to your phone regarding offers in the store. If you are interested, you enter the store and various iBeacon emitters then coordinate with your phone, guess your location, and guide you to the product. iBeacons use Low Power Bluetooth technology so it will not drain your phone's battery.

This is how iBeacon works.

Augmented Reality:

This is where the real fun starts when it comes to innovations happening in the digital space to merge the physical world with the digital world. So, let's explore the technologies that are going to make us live life as in Sci-Fi movies. It's all about merging Digital Data and GFX with Real World inside a Smart Phone or in a HMD or in front of you via a Portable Projector.

  • Sixth Sense

This is a highly futuristic technology which is being experimented at MIT in the US. It's a Wearable Computer System which consists of a Camera, a Smart Phone sized Computer and a Projector. Conceptualised and developed by Steve Mann and later further developed by Pranav Mistry at MIT. It's a Wearable Gesture Interaction Device. So, you can frame an object or scene with your fingers and the camera takes the picture. The computer then fetches all related data from the Internet and via the projector projects it on the wall in front of the user. The user then can interact with the data that is being projected in front with fingers by making movement gestures. What is interesting here is that I myself was lucky enough to watch the Demo of it in Delhi and met Pranav Mistry. He was on a promotional tour in India, for the launch of Technology Review in India along with the Editor of Technology Review. It was an overwhelming experience to see what it can do.

Watch what it can do in a Demo by Pattie Mae at TedX.

  • Google Glass

Google Glass is another example of Augmented Reality viewer where the user can see all sorts of Digital Data flowing in front of eyes, which is related to what he is seeing via the Google Glass. Remember the Terminator movie? It uses an Optical Head Mounted Display and activates by tilting the glass 30 degrees. Operates on voice command and touch pad. You can hook up your phone and programme it via an App called My Glass. Third party providers are also making Apps for Google Glass.

Why Google Glass?

  • SnapShop

Brought to you by SnapShop Inc. This is a highly innovative Shopping App for shopping household furnitures online. They have an online furniture store, which sells branded furniture from various well know manufacturers. What you can do in their store is pick up virtual furniture and place it on the photo of your living, dining, or bedroom, and see how it gels with the room. So, using Augmented Reality (AR) you can experience the final look of the room virtually.

See how SnapShop works. Someday maybe you will be able to put a virtual dress on a 3D model of yours and see how you look and then buy.

  • Theodolite

It is an Augmented Reality View Finder App for iPhone which pulls all kinds of location data from GPS, Compass Heading, Time Data, Elevation and puts it on the phone. All that you need in the wilderness. Viewfinder is like those role-playing games where you get to see all kinds of locational data on a Head Mounted Display which is overlaying over original image of the location. Developed by Hunter Research and Technology, this is a truly Sci-Fi Age Application. For Android the App to look for is Theodolite Droid.

  • iOnRoad

iOnRoad is like your Personal Driving Assistant who keeps giving data related to your driving. So, you will get alerts when you accidentally change lanes, collision alert when collisions can happen. It also lets you know how far behind you are from the vehicle in front of you. So, it also calculates the speed of the vehicle in front other than yours. Another excellent feature, it records Video, while you are driving, like a Dashcam. So effectively it can be used in courts like a Black Box. With over a million downloads this is a popular App for both Android and iPhones.

See how iOnRoad works.

  • Field Trip

This App from Google can work with your phone, Google Glass, and Google Watch. What it does is overlay your surrounding visual with information on various buildings and locations around you. So, with the help of this App, over the visuals, you get to see interesting information about the places. You can discover things and stores and hangout joints you never knew existed. With integrated maps and pointers, it's a helpful App to have.

Experience FieldTrip in this Video.

  • Wikitude

Wikitude is for Brands and Companies who want to develop Augmented Reality Apps for their own products. So, you can have your own App where you mark out all your stores and locations. So, when a viewer uses your App, the user can access information regarding how far off the store is, and which one is the store among many buildings. Data gets overlayed with visuals via the camera. Can be explored by companies like Retail Chains, Restaurant Chains, Hospital Chains etc.

Image Recognition Application:

Image recognition application works by reversing the Image Search process and punching Augmented Reality with the search results. Various Apps are out there, let's examine the popular ones.

  • Google Goggles

Coming from Google's stable this versatile App is a box full of wonders. What it does is, when you click picture of a building or a product it conducts a search of matching images in Google Database, and fetches information regarding that building or product. If it's a building, you will get to know what building it is and what all is there. If it's a picture of a product that you clicked, then it will fetch different prices from different online stores and other product related information. What's more, you can scan Barcodes with it and get related information. Interestingly, you can take pictures of road signs in a foreign language, and the App will translate it to your choice of language, using Text Recognition Technology.

Watch how Google Goggles work.

  • Clickable Paper

Clickable Paper from Richo Europe, is like TouchCode when it comes to linking Posters or Tickets or Cards with Digital Media Content, be it Web Pages or Pictures or Videos. But it is more versatile in use and uses Image Recognition Technology instead of Hard Linking or Mobile Tagging. What it does is store images of Partner Products and Creatives in its Image Database with pre-configured Rich Media links. When a user clicks the Image of the Creative with the Phone Camera from a Magazine or News Paper, the App searches its Image Database, matches the Creative, pulls the embedded links, and presents them to the viewer.  The user can now click one link and enjoy Rich Media Content in the phone.

This is how Clickable Paper works.

  • Blippar

Blippar is a funded company established by Ambarish Mitra in London having offices worldwide including Delhi, India. It has recently acquired a Duch AR company called Layar and combining their database together now commands the world's largest Augmented Reality User Database. Their offering too works on Image Recognition Technology like the above two. What is special about Blippar is it can trigger any Application or Action in the phone as requested by the Advertiser from downloading a PDF File to that of launching a YouTube video. Presently its working with its Partner companies only but wants to make all English Books and English Movie DVDs blippable (scannable).

This is how Blippar works.


On a concluding note, before you start whipping out your mobile and start clicking pictures and scan etc after reading this article, let me tell you, all technology has limitations, and you might get disappointed at times also with the quality of the search results. Most of these technologies solely depend on how fast you can connect to the Internet and upon where you are based. A lot depends on how much data is available on your location and product you are searching for in the Digital World. But it should not stop you from exploring the Digital World around you and merge it with the Physical World and lead a real Smart Life from now on.

Hope you liked reading this two-part article, so please don't forget to share it with your friends and family, so that they too can know about all these wonderful technologies, which are changing our world as we know it!


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