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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 82: Augment Reality with Your Phone

Level Easy

Platform Android and iOS

Cost Free

In the not-so-distant future, technology may fuse so tightly with the way you naturally experience the world that you’ll learn all about something simply by looking at it. You won’t have to find a computer, open up a web browser, and type your search into Google or Wikipedia for information. Instead, that information may display on top of your vision, perhaps as a heads-up display (HUD) overlaid on your glasses or even specialized contacts. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction or video games, but that sort of convenience is already possible with your smartphone.

The phone you carry in your pocket is, in many ways, considerably smarter than your PC and laptop ever were. It knows where you are, which direction you’re pointing it, and it can even see the same things you see. Using that information with its always-on access to the Internet, your phone can give you all sorts of useful information about anything you point it at. This hack highlights several methods to augment your knowledge using your phone.

Learn About Where You Are

Free augmented reality app Layar (www.layar.com/download) uses a combination of your phone’s camera, your location, and the direction you point the phone to display information about your surroundings live on your screen. Types of information range from Wikipedia to crime maps and restaurants to apartment listings.

Launch the app, and choose a layer with information ...

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