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Augmented Reality - Nothing is what it seems.

No not this...
Augmentation: The process of making or becoming great in size or amount. That is the promise of this new technology that's creeping into our lives. The above image is a representation of ... of ... Damn I've been caught again, I was just trying to get your attention. I feel dirty. Did it work? Do you forgive me?

Let me start over... Ehem. 1987’s “Back to The Future” has been brought up recently due to the announcement of a new episodic video game. The revival of this IP has me wondering “What happened to that future vision Science Fiction promised us?”

These graphics held up so well didn't they?
Hover boards, flying cars, and clothes that dry themselves. There was one more thing in there that a lot of people tend to forget about. Remember that part where the billboard ad pretty much engulfed his world completely for a minute and there was a “Woah!” moment? (Back to the Future 2) Well that just might be the only part of the “Future” as Robert Zemicks forsaw it that has come to reality.

I’m talking about what is now known as “Augmented Reality”, most recently shown off by NINTENDO. Their version of it was shown during this year’s (2010) E3, with the first playable version of it’s new 3DS portable console.

What is it?

Augmented Reality is exactly what it sounds like. It takes what you see, and adds new elements to it through computer generated content. 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. Pretty much everything you have in most current smart phones.

What does that mean?

Nintendo uses it in it’s new “3DS” portable gaming system by having you point it’s cameras at objects, and in some cases a large serpent will attack you with fireballs from said object, you have to avoid the fireballs and shoot the serpents head.

Sony’s PSP uses it in “Invisimals” where you actually get to interact with Pokemon-type monsters to capture them for later battles, pinching, poking them, and flicking them into submission.

But seriously WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

What it means is this. There’s a U.S. Company called Vuzix that developed these wraparound sunglasses. The sunglasses aren’t see through at all. What they show you is the image as seen through the glass’ cameras along with whatever the mobile computer in your pocket (say a smart phone) is also projecting. So really you’re seeing the world indirectly. In a way this could be the holograms we’ve been clamoring for.

You can actually play with some of this technology yourself interactively as long as you have a camera on your computer and a printer. Here check this out.

What does this future look like? (Double Rainbow all the way!?)

Totally not dorky... at all.
Since smart phones already encompass most of these hardware elements, all we’d really need are the glasses. Let me paint a picture.

You’re standing at the corner of your nearest commercially popular corner of your town, now look around with your augmented reality glasses what do you see? 8D <-- that’s you.

You first see your car with an arrow over it with the words that say “My Car”, next you see a word bubble with an arrow pointing south on the street that says “This way home”. You also see the restaurants you are looking towards with a “” review and the average stars. You see a bubble that says “Fedex Office Free Wifi”. So many possibilities, think of facebook, twitter, and iPhone’s applications of this type of technology. It’s actually pretty scary.

So those are the consumer possibilities. There is also the commercial aspect of it all. Imagine if you are a mechanic. you’re looking at this engine you’ve never looked at before-- damn! Time to consult the book. Where are all the components? Hmm this kinda looks like that hunk of metal, and this kinda looks like that... With AR slap on those glasses install the mechanics 2020 Kelly Blue Book vehicular guide, and BAM you’re looking at all the components live and labeled ready for you to interact with it. Sound too good to be true? It’s already happening, remember that company Vuzix? They provide AR technology for the U.S. Marine Corps to test with their mechanics.

Oh god why?!

Now I'm going to have more Spider nightmares :(.
Who needs it? I’ll tell you who. You do. Everyone does. Why? Because everyone else is doing it, and because there are articles that say iPhone users have more sex.

We as people are never satisfied with what we have. We always want more, and advertisements know this. They use it to their advantage and carefully word things so that you think it was your idea all along. And lastly since we all know everyone's mind is already there -- Yes Bayonetta will now do a little pole humping right on your table in your living room.

Where was I? Oh right... So umm, yeah It’s possible that instead of buying a new HD3DTV you’ll buy a shiny new pair of HD AR glasses for your iPhone or PSP Phone so that you can watch your hologram whatever anywhere.

How soon?

3DS is coming possibly by the end of this year, and you can bet there’ll be a ton of other stuff using it by the end of this... oh wait it has already happened. Here check this out.

Why does it hurt!?

In conclusion you are all owned. Google owns you. Facebook owns you. Twitter owns you. and Apple owns you. AR could get really interesting, lets just see if it actually gets fun when Nintendo does it :).

Would you do this to your face for AR?
Do you already enjoy any Augmented Reality apps for your phone?

Does this make you want an iPhone or any smart phone with AR apps?

Do you think this is going to leapfrog over 3D TVs?


  1. Well it still has the problem of 3D TV's. Everyone needs there own glasses, so not sure if it will leapfrog 3D TV's. It seems like a cool alternative and I'm sure we'll see it in the Sky Mall Catalogs on airplanes soon!

  2. That is true... How weird would that be. Everyone would be in their own version of reality depending on what applications they have running on their glasses at the moment.

    Yeah, maybe it wont leapfrog 3D TV's because your right, you're the only one watching whatever you're watching, you'd have to synchronize your glasses with your friends? yeah not realistic. So maybe they'll just replace our cellphones.


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