Nokia call the project ‘Maa’ saying:
What if you could see through the Earth? Maa is a novel embodied interaction method for viewing the Earth and geo-spatial information with a Nokia N900.
Rafe’s got the real skinny on this though…
It’s a mix of augmented reality and photo browser and works by using a device’s sensors to detect where the device is (GPS) and where it is pointing (magnetometer and accelerometer).
The notable difference to other’s attempts at this though, is that MAA can see through the earth; this means as well as pointing at the horizon (as with traditional augmented reality photo viewers) and the area around you, you can also point at the ground and see photos on the other side (e.g. if your in the UK, point at your feet, and you’ll see photos from Australia). MAA also includes ‘a birds eye view’, which lets you look down on the earth from above. Geo-tagged images can be drawn from the handset or (as seen in the demo) photo services such as Flickr.
The idea behind the research is to explore the ways in which photos browsing on a device can be better connected to the physical world. It also investigates how augmented reality-based viewing could make it easier to view large numbers of photos.
By the way… I asked and (in this case) ‘magnetometer‘ really means ‘compass’ . Learning is fun, no?