While augmented reality apps can be pretty flashy and cool to look at, there are only a few I would actually call useful and practical in real life situations. Sure, I can pan my Yelp or Layar apps around to see nearby food locations, kill virtual ghosts, or run away from non-existent zombies, but those are not nearly as meaningful as what a Miami University professor Bo Brinkman has up his sleeve.

The Augmented Reality App for Shelf Reading, developed by Miami University Augmented Reality Research Group (or just MU ARRG - ha!) and headed by Bo, will have librarians salivating over its potentially time-saving capabilities. Watch Bo demonstrate the app's near-instant detection of out-of-order books on a shelf, followed by an on-screen shortest path algorithm to return misplaced books back to their locations. The icing on the cake - instant inventory of whole bookshelves, which would likely save hours of time per week for a typical librarian.

Now that is truly useful. Bravo, MU ARRG (I just can't stop saying it):

Source: MU ARRG via reddit

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Stunt Dr1ver

    Interesting: yes. Impressive: no. Aside from the already developed augmented reality routines to detect and use tags and superimpose graphics on the tags, this is a simple sorting program. Computer Science 101, nothing groundbreaking or paradigm changing.

    • AnotherOpinion

      do you really have to be an ass? so what? you're the smartest guy in the room?

      go ahead, show us your groundbreaking work...

  • http://dangerismymiddlename.com Paul Danger Kile

    The advance is in the use of the tech. One of my former jobs was to reorder every book in the University library. I have been programming for 20 years since then, and this idea didn't occur to me. It's like when Russ Nelson put the first DOS PCs directly on the Internet. Back then it was common knowledge that only UNIX had the horsepower, but Russ had the idea, and the ability to adapt Phil Karn's KA9Q code from ham radio use to Ethernet use. This put PCs on the Internet, and also became an integral part of Linux. This advance was also based on existing tech, but it catapulted us into the Internet age, because Russ was the first person with the idea, the ability, and the desire.

  • Denbo

    This certainly has applications beyond sorting books in a Library.

  • Jake

    I have a very large private library at home... is there a program for personal use to catalogue my books and keep an inventory? (using droid would be a plus!)

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      You can try something like Shelves, Jake. Nothing will be as efficient as the app in this librarian post here, but Shelves is one of the best alternatives right now.

  • Vickie

    Can someone tell me more about the little spots on the spine that encodes the call number? I have looked at "guns" that are supposed to read RFID tags while the books are sitting on the shelf and complain when things are not checked in correctly or are in the wrong place, but I have never seen anything like the little spots he seems to reading from.

    • http://dangerismymiddlename.com dangerismymiddlename.com

      Those are 2D barcodes. (This link is funny! http://lmgtfy.com/?q=2D+Barcodes) The ones on the books look most like these, but could have been developed specifically for this app instead: http://www.slashgear.com/2d-barcode-app-added-to-sprint-handsets-1122265/ I don't know which, but I would not be surprised if MU ARRG! developed their own 2D barcodes, because it's fun to do, and I would not be surprised if they chose an existing standard, because it's already there.

      RFID works by transmitting an ID number. The coolest part of RFID is that there is no battery on the RFID tag (transmitter); the radio waves that the RFID reader (transceiver) sends actually are used to create the power for the transmitter tag via induction!

      OK, here's what you need to know: RFID, barcodes, those new nifty things on Nexus S, etc., do nothing more than provide an ID. All of the heavy lifting, whether that's complaining when things are not checked in, or complaining when the books are out of order, is done on the reader's computer using (usually) traditional database tech.

  • Mark Tillman

    Is there a way to get a copy of this MU ARRG app for public library use?

  • Bookworm

    Yay for easy inventory. The potential uses are pretty cool.