Augmented Reality's Rapid Progress

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Augmented Reality

 Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is another exponential technology that is rapidly moving from the stuff of science fiction to become part of our reality.  Already numerous apps are available for smart phones, and with upcoming wearable computers, the rapid expansion and implementation of augmented reality will continue.
ast month we featured a short film called Sight, which explored the future possibilities of augmented reality technology.  While this film is mostly science fiction, the technology of augmented reality is rapidly advancing and reaching dramatic levels.

In the TED video below, Matt Mills and Tamara Roukaerts demonstrate Aurasma, a new augmented reality tool that can seamlessly animate the world as seen through a smartphone. Going beyond previous augmented reality, their "auras" can do everything from making a painting talk to overlaying live news onto a printed newspaper just like those in Harry Potter, and instruction manuals transform into on-the-spot virtual reality training guides.

Augmented reality is the process of adding layers of information onto the world we see, viewable only through technology. In this space, the Aurasma Lite app uses a smartphone and camera to lay "auras"--3D images, games, animations--onto real-world places. Point your phone at a movie poster on the street and launch a trailer; point at a building to pull up an interactive map... or create your own "aura" and upload it to the virtual space for anyone to see.

Mills and Roukaerts say: "This is the next step on from simply browsing the internet because now the digital content we discover, create and share can be woven seamlessly in to the world around us."

Augmented reality will also make its way into wearable technology, such as Google's Project Glass, bringing up video, 3D clips, audio and descriptive content as images are detected.  Conceivably, with the rise of cloud computing the world will very rapidly be tagged for augmented reality and even aid the abilities of robotics.  Where Erin Rapacki at IEEE Spectrum suggested that databases 3D scanning databases of environments would aid robots in wayfinding and object recognition, augmented reality methods such as Aurasma's might be even simpler and more cost effective.

In the film Sight, augmented reality means boring walls and
furniture come alive with interactive content.
In Sight, the world's physical environments become blank canvases, and the design work all takes place for the augmented reality contact lenses.  Moreover, two people looking at the same physical object will be able to see and interact with it differently.  Designers and creative opportunities will be vast for this developing field.