Tagging the real World

clip_image001This has been announced in these days in the website of the Rey Juan Carlos University. This is free mobile software that allows ‘tagging’ virtually the real world.

According to this, users can link multimedia content to an object by pointing the phone, stick a ‘virtual’ label over a real object and the person who passes near can read it. And all of this can be done from a mobile. That is what makes the free software ‘LibreGeoSocial’ (LGS), a program developed by researchers at the Rey Juan Carlos University for phones with Android, the operating system created by Google. LGS is a geo-referenced multimedia content management. That is, allows to a social network user store information (text, photos, video, audio …) linked to a particular location. There’s even an augmented reality interface. That is, when the user points with the phone to an object previously labeled, appears on the screen indications that the other person has ‘left’ there.

“This is a much richer experience than a traditional social network because the magnetic field measuring sensors of the new phones let you know not only where the mobile is but also where it is directed”

This is ensured by Pedro de las Heras Quirós, a member of GSyC / Libresoft and researcher of the project. He adds: “The modules of augmented reality and LibreGeoSocial georeferencing enable social networks users that have been on the streets interact not only with the virtual world, but also with the real world.” This opens a wide range of utilities: tourist, citizen participation systems, social networks for dependent people and mlearning.

Some examples: A tourist visiting a museum, points with his mobile into a box and it’s displayed on the screen the comments, pictures etc. that another previous visitor has ‘stuck’ virtually on this art work. A citizen sees an eave about to fall and creates an effect that is tied to the roof. The district’s maintenance services can automatically receive this information. When traveling to the scene to solve the problem can easily locate the place by the augmented reality interface. Furthermore, until it is fixed, other users passing by can receive alerts on their mobiles.

For that matter, a municipality could use it for a survey of points of interest such as labels, business, point of pavement damage, violations of rules, etc.

But LibreGeoSocial has another advantage: it has a semantic search engine. That is, the social network nodes (multimedia content, people, events …) are processed through a system of clustering algorithms to infer not explicit relationships between them, which allow users to find other users or web content related to them despite belonging to different communities within the network. For example, a user could create a search criterion to find another user who frequently visits its same sites or similar hobbies.

LibreGeoSocial consists of a server and a client application for mobile. The server is implemented in the Python programming language. The client application is programmed in Java language. All code server and client source of LibreGeoSocial has been published as free software, which is one of the first applications of augmented reality for Android whose source code is available, and one of the few existing next to Sky Map and Wikitude. The client application will also be available soon through the Android Market applications, ready to be downloaded and run on Android phones sold in Spain by the main mobile operators.

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