It's all going off today – new Comes With Music handsets, Michael Jackson tickets fury, ongoing YouTube / PRS for Music rows… But I'm sat in a London venue for a T-Mobile event covering Google's Android platform, which has been very interesting so far.Having already revealed that Android Market will get paid apps in the UK tomorrow, now developers are taking the floor – including Mobilizy, which is making an app called Wikitude. Which is pretty nifty.Philip Breuss-Schneeweis from Mobilizy is giving the demo. Wikitude started as a website with geo-referenced Wikipedia articles, and when they turned it into an Android app, it got into the Top 50 of Google's Android Developer Challenge. It's not pure music, but if you're looking at the mobile apps space, it's fascinating. Hence me writing this…So, it's an augmented reality travel guide, which already has 85,000 users. And it works by you holding your Android phone up, and getting information overlays telling you about your location. So if you're looking at the Houses of Parliament, it can bring up info on those from Wikipedia.”I look through the phone, and because of the accelerometer, the compass and the GPS, it knows exactly what I'm looking at,” he says. It does look very slick, with info hovering over whatever you look at through the phone's camera.I'm trying to think how music could tie into this kind of tech. Maybe a blue-plaque type tour of London where you go into the Good Mixer pub and get a 'Menswear played pool here' overlay? A niche, I admit.After some technical slides, he hands over to his colleague Martin, who's going to give more details about the back-end. Ah. Bear in mind you're getting this through a filter (me) who's not especially back-end-friendly. So to speak.So, someone conducts a search on Wikitude, and the app searches for Wikipedia data, but also looks for data from other content providers, merges the results and sends them back to the phone.Why build Wikitude in the first place? Martin says maps only give an abstract view of where points of interest are in a particular location. “You maybe know where you're standing, you know the street name and direction of where you wanna go on the map, but you don't know which direction you're looking at…”So, most mobile travel guides rely on maps, whereas Wikitude is more about giving you a more intuitive way of finding the points of interest. “Ah! There's the Taj Mahal…”But the next steps are more interesting – the company uses Wikipedia and Panoramio data, but it's working on integrating Qype content – user-generated reviews of restaurants and bars and other places – and then the next step will be to allow Wikitude users to add their own content and start building a community.This may include images and videos – maybe scope for stuff around gigs here, for example people saying 'here's the best / quietest bar in the Hammersmith Apollo…'. That's me saying that, not him.But Wikitude's functionality can be used for lots of other stuff – exhibitions, banks and so on. The company plans to make money by licensing out its tech, but also from advertising (one for live venues again to consider perhaps).The company is launching another app called Zenith, using the same technology, but looking upwards – hold your camera up to the sky, and it explains the stars and constellations. Very nice.You're probably thinking this has very little to do with music, despite my attempts to shoehorn venues in. And you'd be right. But it's the technology being developed by the likes of Mobilizy that could be used by future music services that's the interesting part.I think.
Liveblog: Wikitude developer talks Android augmented reality
March 11th, 2009 by Music Ally