Google, in its ongoing quest to provide ubiquitous access to information people never knew they needed, is to launch sky maps for mobile phones under the name "Star Droid". We've all been in the situation of walking along and suddenly noticing an obscure stellar body, only to suffer an unrequited longing to know its identity. …
Just paving the way....
Far from this lacking a clear purpose, this represents Google's first steps into the world of augmented reality.
Their goal is to monetize all information on the planet right? Augmented reality is the perfect way to escape from digitized information.
I, for one, welcome our soon-to-be-advert-overlaying overlords.
Shurely about a gazillion GOTO telescopes already have this pointless technology. Plus I had a sky-map app on my Palm V about a decade ago. Plus if you're mollocking with your phone you will zap your night vision anyway....
Plus anyone anywhere there's phone reception is just going to see a whole lot of orange skyglow. Still I suppose they could label that for us, "massive waste of energy happening here... and here... and here.... and... "
Alternative on Android.
An alternative exists on the Android Market already: http://www.starreservoir.com/ it uses either the GPS (if enabled) or 'rough location' from cell towers, and the compass on the G1 to get the right location and orientation.
It works pretty well, and is nice to see what's above you (and prove to your annoying "know-it-all friend" that it is Betelgeuse above you)
Perhaps it's time for the chocolate factory to team up with a certain make of chocolate bar to overlay targetted advertising next to a certain heavenly body.
Mars or Milky way, I leave that up to them.
There's a tool out there which is tagging pictures on Flickr with the actual details of observed stars and constellations:
It's a lot more impressive than just showing a chart which is probably suitable for your current location, although that is admittedly rather impressive nonetheless.