Augmented reality, or AR refers to a technological process that superimposes computer-generated content over live images viewed through cameras. Far from new, this technology has been used in military applications on computers and in the gaming industry for years, but its advancement into the field of mobile applications and faster wireless broadband networks is news indeed.

Now this amazing process is affordable in Japan through Presselite, and can be installed in portable devices such as smartphones and iPhones.

Pressalite’s new application for iPhone and iPod Touch is known as Combini. The name is a clever marketing ploy and derives from the word that means convenience store franchise in Japan.

Along the lines of a small “711” supermarket, such stores offer prepared foods, snacks and daily necessities and are open 24 hours every day of the year.

The new Augmented Reality application works by helping the user locate the nearest Combinis from his or her position in Tokyo.

This is accomplished via the iPhone camera’s live view. The camera can only locate and display those elements situated at a distance less that 1 km (0.621 miles) that is updated in real time as you walk through the city streets.

That is still a formidable accomplishment for a company that previously was known for iPhone games and subway map applications.

The display is very easy to read as a red arrow (compass) appears whenever a station is selected which indicates the direction and the distance to that specific point.

The Augmented Reality application can operate without a network connection and it can conveniently bring a wealth of collected data to the user’s fingertips.

It is the logical outgrowth of the GPS and other location-based applications, which allow for the tracking and storing of information about particular locations.

The possibilities are endless.

“The idea that a mobile device knows where I am and can access, manipulate, and overlay that information on real images that are right in front of me really gets my science fiction juices flowing. It’s just beginning now, and it will likely be one of the most interesting trends in mobile in the next few years, said senior analyst, Mark Donovan.

Why not try out some augmented reality of your own?

Here are some promo codes that may well transport you to…well, somewhere else!

Combini Tokyo for iPhone:









M Dee Dubroff is the penname of this freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non fiction writing and maintains eight web sites covering a wide variety of topics. She also writes feature articles for several local newspapers. Her book entitled: A Taste of Funny, and her website, Eat, Drink And Really Be Merry ( feature many well researched and humorous articles on the subject of food and drink.