Market Overview

Google to Augment Your Reality?

The dot-com giant wants to bring a little something extra to Google Play.

For those of you who haven't visited Google.com (NASDAQ: GOOG) today, here's a quick update: the company is now promoting Android Market – which has been renamed Google Play – on the main page with a “Play NEW” icon appearing on the bar at the top.

Google Play features everything you could ever want to buy from Google: games, movies, books, and music. The site layout is sleek, attractive, and relatively easy to navigate. It's just what Google needs to compete in the marketplace, even if it is too late to steal some of iTunes' market share.

Now in an e-mail update regarding Google's upcoming I/O 2012 event, Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry said that developers are expecting something fresh from the Android maker.

“Converged view is that Google I/O will be a significant catalyst for the stock,” Chowdhry wrote. “Developers are expecting some AR (Augmented Reality) offerings from Google.”

Augmented Reality has been a hot topic as of late, with tech demos, marketing gimmicks, and concept products showing more promise than most of the full-fledged release. Nintendo (NTDOY) is one of the larger corporations to explore this realm. When the Nintendo 3DS was released in March 2011, consumers could aim the new handheld at special AR cards to trigger a series of mini-games.

On the iPhone, developers are continually trying to add AR fun to their apps. Some have been successful – the Moosejaw X-Ray app is easily one of the best ever created. But most AR apps are gimmicks that people quickly abandon.

How will Google's efforts differ, if at all? That will depend on how creative the company is in designing Augmented Reality apps. The power of the hardware will also be a factor.

On a smartphone, AR development is allowed because of the camera and motion-based (gyroscope) features. But with a more powerful device, such as the Kinect sensor bar from Microsoft, developers can do so much more.

Take a look at this demo video, released earlier this month. In it, Microsoft demonstrates an awesome driving game in which the vehicle is projected onto the floor and can be controlled (driven!) over any surface.

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Kinect is smart enough to differentiate between flat and rugged terrain, and will not allow players to drive through wall-like barriers. The technology is clearly in its infancy, but the potential is amazing. If Microsoft can perfect this in time for the launch of the next Xbox, it will have an enormous hit on its hands that would ensure the success of its third console.

Will Google introduce anything that impressive? Probably not. But there is a lot of AR innovation left in smartphones. Developers just haven't found it yet.

Follow me @LouisBedigian

Posted-In: Android Android Market AR Augmented Reality GoogleNews Rumors Tech Best of Benzinga

 

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