"Copy that, Echo 1, I've got a lock on Pizzeria Dacca. Permission to take the shot?" Borrowing cues from heads-up displays you might find in the cockpits of fighter jets, Nokia's Research Center has cobbled together the MARA (Mobile Augmented Reality Applications) project for identifying the user's surroundings. Using a Nokia 6680 specially equipped with a big, ugly box containing accelerometers in all three axes, a compass, and a GPS receiver, the phone has enough information to precisely identify objects seen through its camera by appending stuff (like the aforementioned red boxes) to the on-screen viewfinder -- useful for identifying buildings, streets, and even friends (or "bogeys" if you want to stick with the fighter jet lingo). Though MARA is strictly a research project, it's apparently been under development for a good while now, lending hope that the system might eventually see production some time down the road. We have to admit, the cool factor is extremely high on this one, and we'd love to see it happen.

[Via GigaOM]

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Nokia project puts red boxes on things