Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 top augmented reality travel apps

These are wonderful apps for Tour Directors and Guides. Now we may be able to answer all of their questions instantly!

(CNNGo) -- It is the curse of every curious traveler -- you're walking through a new town and you can sense the history, you can smell the restaurant, you can hear the train you're meant to catch, but you have no idea how to get there or discover more.
Thank heavens for augmented reality.
Now, with apps that cost from nothing to a few bucks, you can lay digital worlds over the top of the real world through your phone's camera view. Suddenly data on hotels, restaurants, shop offers, landmarks, social gaming, even menu translations, is at your fingertips.
Here are 10 fantastic AR apps that every traveler should know about.
1. Wikitude
Price: Free
Platforms: Android 1.5+, iPhone 4.0, Symbian with compass, Bada
Download link:
Voted the best augmented reality browser of 2010 by readers of Augmented Planet, Wikitude comes with a multitude of "worlds" that can be overlayed onto the real world that you see through your mobile device's camera.
For example, the Starbucks World shows you if any Starbucks cafes are in the direction you're pointing your camera.
Check out all the various worlds you can access, including World Heritage List, Wildlife Parks in Asia, Irish Pubs Worldwide and more, by clicking here.
CNNGo: 10 best travel apps ever
2. Layar: ArchINFORM
Price: Free
Platforms: Android 1.5+, iPhone 3.1+
Download link:
A nifty AR layer for architecture buffs. ArchINFORM is available as a real-world-overlay on Junaio, Layar and Wikitude, but Layar's version comes with special features.
It's a huge database of interesting architectural works, existing and yet-to-be-built, that you can search for with architect names and/or keywords.
Within the 3D layer, there's an AR-view perspective map and a walkable pedestrian route can be shown for every listed piece of architecture within the specified neighborhood.
3. Lonely Planet Compass City Guides
Price: $4.99
Platforms: All Android
Download link: Available in the Android Market
This is for those who travel by the Lonely Planet gospel, but can't be bothered to lug around their tomes. Now all their expert advice for 25 key cities around the world is available on an Android screen complete with GPS-enabled maps and augmented reality camera views.
Selected cities include Amsterdam, Bangkok, Boston, Istanbul, Prague, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Vancouver.
CNNGo: DoCoMo's Android-powered iPhone killer
4. Etips City Guides
Price: $0.99-4.99
Platforms: iPhone 3.1+
Download link:
Etips provides daily itineraries as well as GPS-enabled maps and on-screen recommendations of nearby hot spots using the camera view.
Etips provides 131 different apps for the iPhone and 49 different apps for the iPad, covering various cities worldwide.
Bonus feature: even if you're not connected to the Internet, much of the content is available offline.
5. BuUuk
Price: Free
Platforms: All Android, iPhone 3.1+, Symbian
Download link:
A restaurant recommendation app, not unlike Urbanspoon. You can find nearby restaurants in camera view as well as where special deals are available. The data is user generated (140 characters or fewer, with links to Twitter and Facebook), and users can accompany their reviews with pictures.
BuUuk covers primarily Asian cities, but is expanding with Sydney, Perth, Phuket and Jakarta being recent additions.
6. Sekai Camera
Price: Free
Platforms: Android 2.1+, iPhone 3.1+
Download link:
Real-time air tagging, where air tagging means things people have written, photographed or said (using the voice message system) about stuff. These then float in your camera view like digital sticky labels.
You can comment on others' air tags or just view the info about nearby restaurants, hotels and so on.
Sekai Camera also features augmented reality games through various Sekai apps such as Sekai Cafe AR, which allows you to "build" an AR cafe in a real location and do business with other users.
7. Metro AR Pro
Price: $0.99
Platforms: iPhone 3.1+
Download link:
Find the nearest metro or subway station in Seoul, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Mexico, London or Paris.
Granted, it's possible to do this in Google Maps, but there's something fun about seeing the stations floating in camera view with the distance from your current location indicated.
8. Waalkz
Price: Free
Platforms: iPhone 3.0+
Download link:
Download informative walking tours and let them guide you through Singapore's heritage Arab Quarter, Boat Quay, Chinatown and Little India neighborhood.
Check out the opium dens of old, sit in souk-like cafes, wander through temples and mosques. See sites pop up in camera view as you walk and once it's downloaded there's no need to be online to use it.
Would be great to see this extended to other cities.
9. iButterfly -- Coupon & Entertainment
Price: Free
Platforms: iPhone 3.1+ (Japan iTunes store only)
Download link:
An augmented reality game created by advertising agency Dentsu that allows users to catch and collect "butterflies" that pop-up in camera view.
Once caught, the butterflies release offers for nearby shops and restaurants as well as other informative content.
Japan only at the moment, but soon to extended to the rest of Asia.
10. Google Goggles in Google Mobile
Price: Free
Platforms: Android 1.6+, iPhone 4.0
Download link: Android Market and iPhone
Google Goggles is still in Google Labs stage, but this is a visual search app to watch. Take a picture of famous paintings, wine labels or bar codes among other things and Google Goggles will return information on the image captured.
Of most practical use is the translation function. Photograph text (for example a menu item) in English, French, German, Italian or Spanish and have it translated into one of those other languages.
While slower than Word Lens, it offers the capability to translate more languages.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Growing Role for Tourism in Sustainable Development

By TANYA MOHN Posted 4:40 PM 03/04/11 Economy, Green

Think of environmentally friendly businesses, and you probably think of things like solar power, green building and recycling. But according to a report released last week by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), one of the most promising green industries -- at least when it comes to creating economic growth, reducing poverty, fueling job creation and addressing major environmental challenges -- turns out to be sustainable tourism.

It's an interesting conclusion because tourism isn't generally considered green. Airplanes and cars burn carbon, for one thing, and vacations are often more about indulgence and excess than about protecting the environment. Vacationers often contribute to the consumption of key natural resources -- by using valuable water for swimming pools or golf courses -- and leave waste. Plus, the construction of resorts can degrade the land.

But the U.N. report, titled "Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication," finds that investing in sustainable tourism could play a big role in creating a green economy. The findings of the report -- which includes contributions from the U.N.'s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), an agency that promotes sustainable tourism development, and economists and experts worldwide -- were presented to environmental ministers from more than 100 countries last week in Nairobi, Kenya.

"This is a landmark report. Advancing the sustainable agenda in tourism will allow the sector to strengthen its capacity to continue generating growth and creating jobs worldwide," UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in a statement. "The conclusions of this report corroborate what we at UNWTO have long been advocating for -- that the tourism sector can be a lead change agent in the transformation to the green economy."

Eradicating Poverty

The report's authors say the development of a green economy could improve human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Environmentally friendly businesses could be a key catalyst for growth and poverty eradication in developing countries, where -- in some cases -- close to 90% of the gross domestic product is linked to natural resources, such as forest and fresh water, according to the report.

"With 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day and with more than 2 billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement. "But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere that sustain our economies, and thus, the lives of each and everyone one of us."

While tourism is one of the most promising generators of world economic growth, its development is accompanied by sustainability challenges, the report notes. But an investment of 2% of the global GDP per year to sustainable tourism between now and 2050 would allow the sector to reduce water consumption, energy use and carbon-dioxide emissions while continuing to grow steadily and contribute to much-needed economic growth, employment and development, according to the report.

The Economy and the Environment

The report proves that the idea of a "trade-off between economic progress and environmental sustainability was unfounded," says Sharr Prohaska, a clinical associate professor of hospitality and tourism management at New York University. Based on case studies, the report projects that destinations that plan for sustainable tourism and develop a green economy will outperform other destinations over the long term (meaning 2020 and beyond), even though green investment may initially reduce economic growth in the short term, she says.

See full article from DailyFinance: