In one of its first mobile augmented reality experiences, The New York Times has launched an iOS-based visualization of four Olympic athletes. If you have a recent iPhone and the Times mobile app, you can see 3D models of figure skater Nathan Chen, speedskater J.R. Celski, ice hockey goalie Alex Rigsby, and snowboarder Anna Gasser overlaid on the real world. By moving close or turning the phone, you can bring up text around specific details, like Gasser’s posture or the protective caps on Celski’s gloves. An Android version is currently in development, and you can find more details on the Times augmented reality initiative here.
The project is still a bit of a novelty. It’s cool to physically walk around objects that appear in real space, but phone screens are so small that the effect is diminished, especially since you’re supposed to be leaning so close that you’ll basically just see the models themselves. I found the desktop experience more compelling, because it was easier to focus on detail on a pure black background. Even so, the Times has done interesting, important work in the field of virtual reality journalism, and it’s making worthy moves into augmented reality as well.