Sunday, July 12, 2009

Augmented reality

Ever wished that virtual reality and real reality would get together? Maybe not but it's coming anyway in the form of augmented reality, a technique that allows information from the net to be superimposed on real life views via a cellphone camera.

There's an interesting example of this on trial in the Netherlands where you can look at, say, a street scene with your cellphone and it superimposes clickable links that can give you more information about a building, services or shop. This application allows you to see which properties in your viewer are for sale and details on them (see demo video below). It's basically a clever mashup of GPS, maps, Wikipedia, Yellow Pages and other services and is even clearer evidence that the future belongs to position-based technologies.

GPS isn't always spot-on but the next phase could well be image recognition allowing the device to realize where it is and provide the relevant information. Another potential development, according to an article in the New York Times (Kicking reality up a notch), is to use this technology to superimpose games onto reality. Look through your cellphone window and suddenly the world is full of virtual creatures straight from your Play Station. Indeed Sony are planning to introduce Invizimals (virtual monsters) to the unsuspecting world before long.

Maybe flying pink elephants will be an everyday sight in the future.

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