Wikitude for Android mashes up augmented reality and turn-by-turn navigation

Wikitude, one of the earliest augmented reality apps, has just launched a new product called Wikitude Drive. Well, “new” is a relative term; they’ve actually been working on this product for a couple of years now. Much like its points of interest browser, the Wikitude Drive overlays driving directions on top of a live image of the road as captured from your phone’s camera.The usual PoI data can also be included in the overlay, so you can get a sense of where the next gas station is, or which restaurants are nearby. The standard view and voice-based turn-by-turn commands are also included, along with a pedestrian mode for once you’re outside of the car.

Augmented reality is a fairly new type if mobile app that uses your phone’s magnetic compass, camera, and GPS to figure out what you’re looking at, and providing relevant contextual information. Pretty much all Android and iOS devices are capable of this kind of thing, but BlackBerry isn’t just yet. Wikitude has actually partnered with RIM to headline the AR functions in the upcoming BlackBerry Bold 9900 once it releases later this summer.

A big pitch for the app is that you aren’t really taking your eyes off the road when you check for navigation instructions on the handset. Although that’s more true than traditional navigation apps, there’s still a lot of overlay information that could easily obstruct something important. Still, it’s easy to imagine a future where data like this is projected onto the windshield, or at very least talking to in-car systems like Ford Sync. If you’re looking for a few other cool ways your car and your smartphone can play together, be sure to check out our summer special on roadtrips!

Wikitude Drive is available now in the Canadian, U.S., and Mexican Android Market for $9.99. Versions for the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland earlier this year.


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