Augmented Reality – The Future Of The Looking Glass

"Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery - creating a mixed reality.

The main hardware components for augmented reality are: display, tracking, input devices, and computer. Combination of powerful CPU, camera, accelerometers, GPS and solid state compass are often present in modern smartphones, which make them prospective platforms for augmented reality." ~ says Wikipedia

 

While many of you have heard of Augmented Reality some of you might not think you've experienced it. Chances are if you've watched American Football in the past five years you have. That yellow 'first down' line is by definition a form of augmented reality. Much of the AR technology that's been brought to the forefront of our daily lives is not perceived as such. But that's soon to change.

The applications of this upcoming technology are seamingly endless in a myriad of applications:

  • Product design & prototyping
  • Cell phone applications
  • Television & display applications
  • Advertising messaging
  • Educational delivery
  • Navigational & way-finding
  • Architectural & spacial simulations
  • Gaming & virtual communications
  • (like it or not) Military applications & simulations

What's interesting about this space is that many technologies are coming online simultaneously that support that make it easier for people involved in AR to piggyback off of their platforms. Smartphone for instance, having GPS technology, larger screens, faster processors and built in camera are simply the perfect storm for AR to develop upon. Most of the AR application use the phone GPS ability and give you location information as you look through the camera. But you can start to see where you could take this on just about any level, even in a limited (cruise ship, conference center, casino) or local (museum, golf course, state park) level it could be very robust as an information tool.

Here are some awesome examples of how AR an the iPhone are being used:

Theodolite
Based on a centuries-old astronomical instrument, Theodolite is a cool new multi-function augmented reality app for the iPhone that serves as a compass, GPS, map, zoom camera, and two-axis inclinometer. Theodolite overlays real time information about position, altitude, bearing, and horizontal/vertical inclination on the iPhone’s live camera image, like an electronic viewfinder. 

Iodestone Compass
With lodestone AR Compass it is easy to find out. lodestone puts a detailed compass over your view of the world to help you navigate. lodestone also includes detailed Google Maps to assist in your travels.

Pocket Universe
Pocket Universe is the ideal astronomy program for those keen to learn about the night sky. The unique display is generated dynamically depending on your location and time, and then rendered in 3D for a super fast response - flick the sky and it spins around you.

Stella Artois — Le Bar Guide
Bar reviews and ratings make this app the perfect on-the-go guide for discerning bar goers. Beer connoisseurs around the world can now join Stella Artois’ global quest for perfection in beer experiences, finding and savouring the perfect Stella Artois – poured according to the time honoured pouring ritual and served in the iconic Chalice glass.

In an advertorial medium I'm seeing more push on facial recognition, product displays and "fancy tricks" right now more than genuine thinking. However, there's no doubt that this medium is not only engaging but becoming more relevant as people are expecting more from their treasured brands.

Advertising applications:

Yahoo's "Fancouver" AR

The Lego Viewer

GE's Smart Grid

Nooka's AR Fashion Accessorizing

Posted on February 11, 2010 and filed under Advertising, Interactive, Technology.