Sasha Kamenetska | Contributor
September 12, 2012

Can You Imagine a World Without Your Smartphone?


When the App Store first started in the summer of 2008 it was a huge game changer. Now, for those of us with smartphones, apps are pretty commonplace. Apps help us do daily tasks and make our lives easier. Many of us feel very lost without our phones since they store all our information and entertainment. This of course poses the problem of forgetting, losing or leaving your phone somewhere. We all know that helpless feeling. Well, what if all your apps and all your information weren’t stored in a device, but were with you all the time?

That is the idea in the short film Sight (you should watch it if you haven’t yet, and be warned, the ending is a little freaky). Everyone has contacts that project an operating system-like layer over everything you see. So you can project art onto your bare walls without having to actually buy any physical paintings, or play video games without turning on a game console, or look up contacts without taking out your phone.

This seems far-fetched, but perhaps it’s not that far off. We already have apps and APIs that allow us to access all sorts of data from our phones. Apps like Layar allow users to view information about products in their phones field of vision, and developers to embed information on images. The augmented reality browser, Junaio can do things like show you all the Instagram photos taken near whatever your camera is pointing, as well as how far away they were taken. (Both Layar and Junaio have APIs as well.)

And to take this even further, Google has unveiled Project Glass, which would basically bring the vision of the movie Sight to life, but instead of contacts, it would be through glasses. These glasses you would actually let you see your appointments for the day, watch a video or take a picture all while walking down the street and without having to look down at your phone and nearly walk into every 3rd person on your way. Google is not the only on working this either: a UK based company, The Technology Company (TTP), has developed another augmented reality glasses prototype, which The Guardian is calling a “more effective version” of the technology than what Google is making.

Google says its goal is to make information more quickly and easily accessible through Glass. Of course, to get this information, Google will need some help – more and more APIs will help make data more available to the world and help power the future of apps (as they have been fueling the current world of apps). Augmented reality maybe here sooner rather than later, but it won’t reach its full potential without more APIs opening information and functionality for all to use. APIs will keep being the driving force behind apps, even if the new generation of apps lives on a tiny lens on your eye and not on your smartphone.