If you ever visit the downtown Manhattan offices of Foursquare, the popular location-based social game for smartphones, don't say the word Gowalla. When I made that mistake during a visit there last November, 27-year-old cofounder Naveen Selvadurai sent me to the Foursquare time out chair. It was a joke. I think.
Lastminute.com has launched an app for the T-Mobile G1 that does a pretty amazing job of creating an "augmented reality" interface on a cellphone. But, amazing as it is, it's just a flavor of what next-gen cellphones will deliver as augmented reality displays--true sci-fi stuff is coming sooner than you think.
Lastminute's Nru app--pronounced "near you"--is part of the trend of location-based services that tell you where nearby food outlets are located, along with shops, entertainment sites and so on. But instead of delivering the data in a boring old list, it does something rather splendid: it displays the info in a real-time swirling compass-like wheel that responds to both your location on the planet and which way you're pointing when held horizontally, and as a fab "reality overlay map" when held vertically. Check it out in the video.