Nokia Lumia 920 Doubles Down on Camera with PureView, Lens Apps, and Augmented Reality

The past couple of years have not been very pleasant for Nokia. The Finnish mobile phone giant has had a hard fall, and it can only blame itself. There is only one way Nokia can pull itself out of its downward spiral, and that is by coming up with droolworthy handsets. Fortunately, that is exactly what Nokia seems to be doing. The Lumia 920, which was unveiled a short while back, is a gorgeous device that is well complemented by great hardware and latest software.

Nokia-Lumia-920

Samsung was first off the block with Windows Phone 8 smartphones, but Nokia will probably end up deciding Microsoft’s fate in the smartphone segment. The Windows Phone 8 powered Lumia 920 packs in ample wow-factors to make consumers crave for Nokia’s beast.

The Lumia 920 features an eight-megapixel camera, which by itself is hardly noteworthy. However, Nokia claims that it will offer outstanding low-light performance thanks to its ability to capture five to ten times more light than other smartphones. It also features the stunning PureView tech that we saw in the 808. While the Lumia doesn’t have the gigantic lens of the 808, the combination of superior optics and PureView software could very well make it the best-in-its-class as far as the camera is concerned.

To go with the camera, Nokia is also bundling a number of Lens apps, which are nothing but little apps that are tightly integrated with the camera. The ones that Nokia showed off today include Bing Vision, Photosynth, Blink, FXSuite, PhotoStrip and CNN iReport. Bing Vision is Microsoft’s answer to Google Goggles. It offers image-based search for quickly looking up more information about the book that you are reading or the music CD that your friend owns. Photosynth is also a Microsoft app, and it allows you to create stunning 3D models of any location by stitching together a series of images. FxSuite is an image effects app that allows you to preview effects before actually capturing an image.

The most exciting feature, however, is City Lens. City Lens was announced earlier this year, and was so far only available through Nokia Beta Labs. However, with Windows 8, Nokia will be baking this feature into the system. City Lens is an augmented reality app that leverages Nokia’s excellent maps to overlay information about nearby buildings and establishments on your camera. Augmented Reality apps have been around for quite a few years; however, they are yet to really go mainstream. If Nokia can manage to nail City Lens, it could very well open the flood gates.

Nokia-City-Lens

Using City Lens is pretty straightforward. Open the app, and tell it what you are looking for (e.g. Restaurants). It will instantly pull up nearby restaurants, and overlay them on the camera along with info about the restaurant and its distance. Tilt the phone 45 degrees, City Lens will switch to a list of those locations. Hold it in a parallel position, and it will bring up the map view. Check out the video below to see it in action.

Sony Shows off PlayStation Vita’s Augmented Reality Capabilities at the CES [Video]

The quad-core driven PS Vita certainly packs a punch as far as hardware is concerned. However, mighty specs are not all that it has in its favor. The American and European versions of the Vita will come with a set of six augmented reality cards that can be used for a fun and unique gaming experience.

PS-Vita

These cards can be laid out on any surface to dynamically create objects within compatible AR games. Earlier today, Sony Santa Monica Sr. Manager Dave Thach demonstrated one of the AR minigames – Table Football (Pocket Soccer in the US), in action. As you can see in the video below, each of these cards can be spread out on any flat surface to create everything from the football field to goal posts and stands. The game itself is simplistic, but is smart enough to adapt itself to the field created by you. Aspects such as velocity of the ball automatically change based on the size of the field. The Vita also remembers where your cards are, so you can simply move your Vita for zooming and panning.

The Vita will launch in North America on February 22.

Word Lens : Magic Software Translates Languages in Real-time [Videos]

The blogosphere and twitterati are calling it “magic software”. If you think it’s surprising that even in this day and age, with all the capabilities of software, one can still consider some piece of software as magical, then you have to try it out to believe it.

Quest Visual, a startup comprising all of two people, are the ones behind all the buzz.

They have released an iPhone application called “Word Lens”. Word Lens is an Augmented Reality application which does language translation in real-time video. Real-time video translation is a difficult feat especially when done using the computing power of only an iPhone. To top this, Word Lens does not even require any network connectivity. So there is no time lag of getting information from the Internet and then displaying it, which is usually common for Augmented Reality applications.

If you are still not convinced, check out these videos of Otavio Good, one of the founders of Quest Visual , demoing “Word Lens”.

As per Otavio, the application is still in it’s initial version and needs a lot of improvement with text recognition , speed and the number of language it supports.Word Lens is currently supported on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 3G.

It is left to one’s imagination how useful this application can get. Right from reading restaurant menus to road signs, it can become an indispensable tool for tourists.

With plans to be able to look-up the words on say, Wikipedia, read fine-text accurately and support a lot more languages, I think this application which topped the charts on the App Store, sure has a lot of potential.

You can directly download Word Lens for the iPhone from here

Awesome Augmented Reality Space Invaders Game [Videos]

Augmented Reality is the future of mobiles, gaming and television. It is both exciting and fascinating and there is tremendous development work going on to make use of the technology.

The folks behind http://www.soulbit7.com/ have come up with a new Augmented reality based game called Look-UP for the iOS. Look-UP is a classic UFO invasion game themed in the 21st century with a Augmented Reality twist. The game allows you to fight alien forces in your real surroundings.

Not sure what I am talking about? Take a look at the videos below of the game in action, one of them was shot in Times Square in NYC.

If you loved what you saw, you can go ahead and purchase the game for your iDevice from here for $1.99. Sadly, this is available only for 3GS and , and support is not yet available.