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App Friday: Augmented reality apps

Augmented Reality iconAugmented reality; an increasingly popular medium for app developers to toy with. The technology has been circulating the mobile space for a few years now and over time we’ve seen more ingenious ways to blend the real world, with the digital. With this in mind we’re taking a look at some of the latest and most popular new uses for augmented reality on mobile devices. Some apps entertain, some educate and all use a pinch of AR magic in their execution.


If you head to Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, you might be in for an augmented reality treat. Barclays have brought their cycle hire scheme right into one of their banking branches for those passing by to have a little fun with.


The GoStratford app, currently available for iOS and coming soon to Android devices, lets you choose just how fantastical the bike you’d use to get around the city looks. You can hop on the classic Barclays Bike in branch, but with the help of the app, transform it into a hotrod, a space rocket, a pink moped, a union jack-laden moped (Mod-style) or if none of those grab you, a mythical unicorn. Then its a case of snapping a picture, emailing it, sharing via Facebook or Twitter, or you can print it out in-store.

The app is designed as a bit of fun and to highlight the Barclays cycle hire scheme, in effect all over the city. It’s available until September 30th.

James May’s Science Stories

If ever there was ever a fan of British engineering on our televisions nowadays, it has to be James May. Despite what you may think, the TV presenter doesn’t just drive fast cars around a track near Guildford for a living, he’s also been involved in numerous programs on engineering and its history, but in this instance his passion, paired with companies Digicave, Qualcomm and the London Science Museum has resulted in the James May’s Science Stories app.

Next time you take a trip to the London Science Museum, install the app on your Android smartphone or iPhone and watch a virtual James May strut around the plinths at exhibits within the museum whilst he talks about each exhibit and its history. We spoke to the man himself whilst testing the app on launch day (as you can see above) and it’s a great experience.

At the app’s launch, nine exhibits were kitted out with AR abilities, but more are cropping up over time, so it’s always worth revisiting to see what’s new.

WWF London Waterside Challenge

We tripped it down to the edge of the Olympic village in Stratford this week to see what augmented reality goodness the World Wildlife Foundation had cooked up for their debut web app. The London Waterside Challenge is a mobile browser-based application launching as part of the foundation’s ‘The Panda Made Me Do It’ campaign. The app aims to help raise awareness about the wildlife surrounding the city’s waterways with facts and quiz questions interspersed with augmented reality content at each of ten special locations throughout the city.

WWF London Waterside Challenge AR app

The augmented reality technology runs using Aurasma Lite which you launch periodically when following along with the web app at any one location. Performing well on the London Waterside Challenge app awards users Panda Points which they can submit to the campaign’s dedicated site in an effort to top the leader board.

For the meantime, the app works at ten aforementioned locations throughout London, both North and South of the river, but should it prove successful, there’s a chance that users outside of the capital will be able to make use of the app on their nearest waterways too.

The application is free and available here. You’ll need to download Aurasma Lite for the AR sections which is also free and available on iOS and Android devices. If you want to know more about the campaign, head to


We’ve spent some hands-on time in the office with some of Zappar’s capabilities and it’s a lot of fun. As with Aurasma, the technology isn’t just used solely by Zappar Ltd; you can find objects to ‘zap’ in places such as  Cosmopolitan, Billabong stores, on select Disney products and other places too.

Zappar Zapparel demo

What impressed us was the company’s Zapparel line; clothing designed to work with the app to create a fun augmented reality experience. Check out our app of the week in Baked: Episode 2, where the Zappar’s drum kit t-shirt becomes a Guitar Hero-style rhythm game as well as a 3D space invasion shootout with their invasion tee. Zappar score serious points for versatility, so take a look and try it out for free on iOS and Android.