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August 27, 2009

From the Pages of Fiction: Augmented Reality Hits the Market

In his 2007 novel Spook Country, William Gibson envisioned a word where virtual art installations were suspended in the real world using GPS coordinates, visible only to those wearing special goggles. Massive astral sculptures loomed in warehouses and recreations of celebrity murders stood on the streets of LA. Today augmented reality (AR) for the masses became a reality thanks to the iPhone and the Paris Metro App: check out the Fast Company article here.

Paris Metro Appliation, from Fast Company

Paris Metro Appliation, from Fast Company

For the uninitiated, augmented reality is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a real-world environment whose elements are supplemented with or augmented by computer-generated imagery. The most familiar example for US audiences is the first down symbol that appears in television broadcasts of football (Wikipedia). The new iPhone application allows users to peer through their camera screen at the surrounding neighborhood and directions to the nearest Paris Metro stop hover like beacons over the landscape.

Early adopters of technology include automakers launching new cars and publishers seeking new and better advertising vehicles. The June 2009 issue of Popular Science featured a cover highlighting GE wind technology that became 3-D and animated when held up to a webcam, using software by Metaio. Here’s a quick profile by Mediapost.

What’s next in AR? Surely retail businesses that depend of foot traffic will jump onboard (Find my Starbucks apps? McDonalds?) How long until personal navigators, worn individually, will replace my Garmin GPS? Will visions of my renovated home stand optimistically on the spot of my fixer-upper? The applications seem limitless. How would you augment your reality? Leave a comment below.

If you’re working in augmented reality, drop me a note!

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