Microsoft licenses GeoVector AR tech to challenge Google Goggles

Microsoft has licensed augmented reality technology from specialist GeoVector, potentially opening the door to "pointing-based local search" being included in future mobile devices like Windows Phone handsets. The deal – financial terms of which have not been revealed – covers "spatially aware mobile computing"; GeoVector holds patents in digital watermarking, as well as overlaying digital graphics on top of a live view, such as showing cut-aways and other information.

Current patent applications from the company include an object-recognition system, similar to Google Goggles, in which a mobile device can identify an object shown to it. When mixed in with geopositioning GPS tech, that could allow the system to spot locations such as hotels and then call up related information such as check-in times, room rates and more:

"Users point a hand-held device of the invention toward an object to address it. The device determines which objects are being addressed by making position and attitude measurements and a search of a database containing preprogrammed information relating to those objects being addressed. Information relating to objects determined to be those presently being addressed is presented at a user interface" GeoVector patent application

There are also patent applications for a system which would adjust the graphical complexity of on-screen information based on the user's current circumstances: for instance, while walking or stood still, high-resolution images of nearby locations in, say, a PND app could be shown, while more simple graphics could be used instead if traveling at speed in a car. Meanwhile, the company already has an iOS app, World Surfer, which calls up local information based on augmented reality results:

Microsoft has experimented with AR-style systems in Windows Phone, for instance the Bing Vision search tool in Mango. However, rather than merely recognizing barcodes, GeoVector's technology could open that up to object-recognition and other more advanced use.