On Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality - This might be the near futureRecently I have been researching on AR (Augmented Reality) which is in my opinion currently the most interesting trend in the industry. According to Wikipedia 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.

So what does THAT now mean? It is not virtual reality as some might think. Virtual reality is composed purely of computer generated elements whereas AR uses pictures (video feeds) of the real world and superimposes computer generated elements on it.

Some of you might have actually already experienced AR in one way or the other. The first time I got in touch with it was a game on my Nokia phone a few years back (can’t remember which one it was) that used the phone’s camera to build the environment of the game. Upon the camera feed were little 3D viruses generated that I had to shoot and by moving the phone I would move within the game’s environment.

AR has many applications and it will change a gamers experience soon. The guys from NVIDIA already started (with others) to develop a unique gaming experience. Let’s take “ARhrrr!”  for example: This game is a project from Georgia Tech and SCAD-Atlanta. The game is developed for the new Tegra by NVIDIA and uses the Tegra’s camera to build a gaming environment on a printed city map. In this city you, the player, have to protect citizens from zombies. The device represents a helicopter in the gaming environment and you can even use real-life Skittles as ammunition. I think it is a bit hard to explain the game itself so here’s a demo video of it:

But the use of AR is not limited to games only. It can be used in many different ways. One company working a lot with AR is Total-Immersion and has lots and lots of examples of use including digital marketing, publishing and education.

One of my favorite marketing applications using AR is “Living Sasquatch“. Many of you may know the advertisements “Messin with Sasquatch” and with Living Sasquatch you can make your own little video with Sasquatch in your own room. All you need is a webcam a printer and you’re good to go. Try it out.

In the future I think that AR will be present everywhere. Scientists are currently researching on digital contact lenses that can show you your vital signs directly in your sight. Though it will take a few years until a first prototype is ready, this idea alone brought up many other applications such as integrations with your phone or pocket PC or the like. Furthermore we can expect at least glasses with AR capabilities much earlier than the contact lenses, as the application of AR on glasses is much easier than on lenses. I myself will probably come up soon with my own little test applications and I already have several ideas how to use this wonderful technology to build interactive websites.

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