While so many predications about the future made in the 20th century have yet to come true (flying cars anyone?), augmented reality is becoming a reality faster than we know.
For those who don't know what augmented reality is, it's the view of the physical world which is augmented by computer-generated sensory input, incluing sounds, graphics and GPS data.
Tech developers started experimenting with AR through various apps such as Google Goggles, which uses image recognition technology to link real-world objects (e.g. landmarks, text) to other media related to the object. Therefore, scanning the Eiffel Tower would load text, video and images linked to the historic landmark.
But now AR developers are making a move to make the techology more embedded in our world. Google has moved from Goggles to Glasses. Google Glasses takes AR further by not simply being an app on your phone, but by being glasses which use image recognition technology and convergence with other Google services to load information to the glasses (and therefore your vision) while you go about your daily business.
However, Google is not the only one interested in developing this technology. The US military is developing a project called iOptik, which will create contact lenses with AR tech. Innovega, the company producing the lenses, hopes to make the technology available to consumers by 2014.
A Japanese competitor has also entered the ring. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) is developing a project called SightFinder, which is aimed at helping blind people get around. The project implements cloud computing and Internet software and streams camera images to NTT, whose computers analyse the data in real-time. The glasses will then warn the user of any obstacles and provide detours. This technology will not only prove to be a stride in the innovation of AR, but will also allow its users to move around freely and more safely.
But not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea of AR. Some feel that the development of AR will allow advertisers unprecedented access to our daily lives, flooding us with promotions, adverts ad suggestions. And because of the revenue this will generate for developers, this prediction could hold water. Google has integrated AdSense into its mail and search engine, so why not its Glasses project.
On the other hand, not all AR tech is transportable. Some tech seems to inspired by movies like 'Minority Report' which include computers with holographic displays and kinect capabilities which allows users to slide through images and documents seamlessly.
Microsoft is on its way to developing this technology with its IllumniShare project. This project uses a camera and projector to create a 'shared display' which you could use for a range of activities, including brainstorming with a friend.
With both the excitement and doubts surrounding AR technology, what does augmented reality mean for you?