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Augmented reality is a term being bandied around in the media more and more these days.
The first augmented reality (AR) application was arguably demonstrated by Morton Heilig around 1957-1962 in the form of the Sensorama.
A version closer to what we currently think of as augmented reality is Hirokazu Kato’s ARToolKit, developed in 1999.
Although not technically new as such, AR is only now starting to garner wider attention because of more accessible hardware and the availability of software development kits like Metaio’s AR SDK.
The key opportunities lie in development and new application ideas:
- Overlays – augmenting locations identified via GPS with contextual information. A typical app could be a travel guide for a city, or a facilities guide for a large resort/museum.
- Pattern recognition – identifying faces, barcodes and other objects so as to then offer more information or links to further action. An example could be facial recognition of delegates at a large conference which then links to profile and interests information.
- New ideas – the arena is new and constantly evolving. There are many possible new ways of using the technologies.
In this early stage of AR we will probably see mostly publicity- and novelty-driven applications. There will be loads of experimentation, and short-term wows and fizzes. The market is currently wide open for the tenacious and clever developers to establish pioneer status.
(As a side note it was interesting that the Apple iTunes Store rejected several AR applications I was involved with recently because of their publicity/marketing nature. Clearly using AR to entertain and engage punters with a major event like the Formula 1 was too low-brow for hi-and-might Apple…)
The mashup of reality and augmented content becomes even interesting when you consider the ever-increasing number of sensors such as video cameras that feed stuff into the Internet. See The Internet of Things: