What is Augmented Reality? Put simply, it is a way of viewing the world in a way that is enhanced by relevant digital information. Think of it as a way of making use of digital technology such as the internet whilst you are out in the real world.
Augmented Reality Apps for Smartphones
Although augmented reality has some way to go before it reaches its full potential, there are already a bunch of extremely useful apps that you can use on your smart phone.
• Google Goggles: find information on any real-life object.
• SpotCrime: see real-time crime statistics of any area.
• Layar: find services in your area, for example popular restaurants.
• Augmented Colors: find out the hex value of the colour of any object.
• Augmented Car Finder: easily find where you parked your car.
• Google Sky Map: identify stars and planets in the night sky.
• AR Invaders: turn any real-life location into a video game.
• Lookator: find the best wi-fi hotspots in any location.
• TagWhat: a mobile encyclopaedia that tracks locations and enables you to share digital content with your network.
• Wikitude: view Wikipedia entries on landmarks or objects in your location.
Augmented Reality Windshields
One possible future for this type of technology is for cars to have windshields which are able to display information while you are driving. This is useful if you need help navigating your way round a city, or would like to be informed in real time about whether there are any free tables at a nearby restaurant, or if you would like to know what band is playing at a particular club that night.
Of course, one major down-side to all this is that it could be a case of sensory overload for some people and could distract them from their driving.
Augmented Reality Glasses
Imagine wearing what looks like a normal pair of sunglasses, but having access to everything you can get on a smart phone, plus more. Such glasses will know where you are, what you are looking at, and can bring you relevant, up-to-date information on it all. This means no more getting lost in a strange city or being stuck for where to buy your lunch.
Augmented Reality Contact Lenses
Despite all this talk of smart phone apps, high-tech windshields, and clever sunglasses, the future of augmented reality could actually be in the form of contact lenses. A special lens called the iOptik is being developed by a company called Innovega, which will enable you to see an augmented, superimposed 3-dimensional virtual reality. You will also be able to simultaneously view reality plus any related information, for example via the internet.