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Navigating a major sporting event can be pretty bewildering if you don’t have the right equipment. But it’s nothing a Smartphone can’t solve.

This Android app from IBM gives you a guide to every taxi stand, restaurant, and bathroom, along with live feeds from every court giving a blow-by-blow for each match. And, in case you want something a bit more direct than Google Maps, it gives you all the info in a heads-up display through the phone’s camera. Think of it as the difference between “north-northeast” and “that way.”

It’s called Augmented Reality, and it might be the gadget world’s next great trick. Instead of showing you a tagged map, this generation of apps drops those tags into the real world, and lets you see what’s that-a-way via a well-placed icon dropped into the phone’s display. In short, it’s transforming the smartphone from an internet portal into a literal filter for the world around us.

In the long term, gadget folks are understandably excited. The tech has even gotten a literary blessing from William Gibson, the unofficial godfather of cyberspace. Unfortunately for Apple lovers, the tech requires a self-orienting compass, something only found in the iPhone 3GS released last week…so Jobs & Co. have quite a bit of catching up to do.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom