Softly buzzing phones could yield better augmented reality

Foursquare's Dennis Crowley on subtle forms of augmented reality.

Current augmented reality technology primarily relies on the cameras in smartphones to connect users to surrounding environments. But is this interaction actually disconnecting users from reality rather than plugging them in? In a recent interview, Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley said the camera sometimes gets in the way.

The screen shouldn’t be between you and me, or me and the place. If the phone buzzes and I look at it silently and know what’s going on, I think that’s the experience Foursquare is going after. It’s less to do with the screens in front of people’s faces …

Crowley said a more subtle interaction could actually result in a deeper connection to the surrounding environment without interfering with what’s happening in real life.

Augmented reality, like holding up your phone and looking around? I’m not very bullish on that. But, you basically get the same results if you put the phone in your pocket, and it buzzes when you’re near things — that’s like a poor man’s augmented reality, which I’m very bullish on.

For more of Crowley’s thoughts on mobile and location, check out the full interview in the following video:

Disclosure: O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures is a Foursquare investor.

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