The term ‘augmented reality’ has been around for at least 2 decades, and the promise of a more virtual, interactive world is becoming more and more realistic. Just this week alone I found two new articles about adding graphical layovers to our normal view of the world. The first is an interactive app using iPads that allows users to place virtual objects in the real world and view them via the iPad’s camera (video here). The other is a video that was just released from Microsoft looking at the possibility of complete virtual overlays on things from street curbs to refrigerators (overkill, but interesting to look at the possibilities).
I think part of the excitement about augmented reality is the imagining of what could be, such as the representation of 2010 back in the 1970s. There are many different apps out there already (Layar for Android is a do-all browser, while the iPhone apps can be found here) that have these abilities. I think mobile devices are the perfect way to introduce this technology, with as many people carrying smart phones as there are (especially with the iPhone 4S release). The truly exciting days to wait for are when normal eye glasses are able to represent this kind of information. Now we just need to hope that augmented reality data becomes more useful to our lives than extravagant or just plain annoying.