Augmented Reality and You

Remember in [insert your favorite 80s Sci-Fi movie here] when the robot scans the street and his "vision" (usually red with cross hairs) is overlaid with handy tidbits of computerized info, like where the humans are hiding, or the heat index of a nearby Wendy's restaurant?

Well the future is here my friends, and while my flying car is STILL on back order, the exciting field of Augmented Reality finally brings robot vision to a device near you.

Check out this app called Layar, developed in The Netherlands and recently released in the Dutch Google Android market.

Based on your GPS location, Layar "shows what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of reality through the camera of your mobile phone," e.g. ATMs, restaurants, bars, transit portals, etc.

Pretty nifty.

Will the app run as effortlessly in real life? Judging from how long it takes my G1 to load, probably not. We are, after all, at the mercy of our mobile providers for the data stream. Not sure how they do things over in The Netherlands, but here in America, we like our cell phone companies like we like our women: slow, expensive, and with spotty coverage.

Still, the release of Augmented Reality products at the consumer level is indicative of how quickly the tech is moving. I always assumed life would become ever more virtual, to the point where my grandkids could upload their brains to the Internet and live forever as digital copies of themselves.

But the future may be a mix n' match of reality and location-based 3D web content, especially in the gaming department.

Let's face it - dual core processors were not invented so you could make faster spreadsheets, so it's no surprise that game development is on the front lines of Augmented Reality.

Check out this student project, which uses a developmental Nvidia hand-held called the Tegra to process the relationship between a physical map on a table and a 3D graphics layer in real time. The results? A zombie shoot-em-up, of course!

Now imagine this on a global scale, where your position in the world is correlated with virtual graphics and the locations of other players in real time. We're talking real-life PvP, MMORPG, and Second Life here.

In the future, it's going to be harder for me to be a closet gaming nerd when I'm shooting fireballs at virtual aliens out in Central Park.

1 comment:

Sage Gibbons said...

thats amazing. Can't wait to never live in the real world again. The zombie invasion can finally happen! Take out your virtual pitchforks peoples!

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