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Mobile Zenbu

October 12, 2009

Data costs on NZ cellular networks have been somewhat prohibitive for the average user for a long time but have finally become affordable. For $10 a month I get a 100MB package of data as an addon to my Vodafone account. It won’t have you cancelling your broadband connection but it does give you the freedom to do simple online lookups at will.

In order to provide mobile users with a more tailored experience, http://www.zenbu.co.nz now comes in a mobile-optimised format. This means pages stripped of graphics with static maps that will be fast to load on your 3G or Edge connection. Just go to the same URL as always, the server will auto-detect mobile browsers and show appropriate content.

For the Zenbu junky like myself it means it’s dead simple to lookup and edit business details while I’m there staring in their window. I dream of an army of Zenbu editors correcting details on the things they visit every day so that everybody can have online, real time access to the very same information we could see walking down the street. (Not quite as catchy as Martin Luther King’s dreams but each to their own!)

Another nifty development on Mobile is the GeoVector World Surfer application available on iPhone and Android. It’s an American company with development based here in NZ that uses appropriate local channels to serve relevant local search results. I found out last week that Zenbu is one of the feature channels for New Zealand users which is very cool! (So pretty to see the Zenbu logo alongside internet giants Google & Yahoo on the GeoVector Channels page!!) They are using the Zenbu XML api to get live search results. More about GeoVector on Stuff.

World Surfer is the closest thing I’ve seen to Augmented Reality (AR) using Zenbu data, or any NZ data at all.

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmentedby) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality.

AR is something I think we’ll see a lot more of in coming years. Today’s leading mobile phones, and tomorrow’s everyday phones, can use their full array of sensors (GPS, digital compass & live video) with data sources like Zenbu to present us with depths of information about the world around us. Part of me sees it as gimicky, part of me thinks it’s very cool indeed. The applications using it and real world use cases are still coming. What do you think of  (the possibilities of) AR?

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3 Comments
  1. October 15, 2009 4:24 pm

    It beats being there: <> Or, if already there, it will help knowing what’s going on there.

    When 3D high quality images are available, with stereophonic sound, it will be easy traveling to zoom around 3D web cams in cyberspace rather than wait at airports and then travel for days at huge expense to be mugged by the local thug while craning a neck to see over a crowd.

    Google’s Street View and Satellite views and Google Earth are a good start, with Zenbu information close at hand.

  2. October 30, 2009 9:51 pm

    I actually read about AR in stuff one day several weeks ago with an iPhone application in the States.
    I immediately thought about how cool that will be if it’s available here using Zenbu data!
    😉
    Too bad the iPod touch 3G still doesn’t have a camera!

  3. October 30, 2009 9:55 pm

    For those iPod touch users like me (dunno how many others out there using Zenbu), a cool update would be ability to update database in offline mode then when wifi is available sync it back to live Zenbu website!

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