Here are two cool examples of augmented reality apps/prototypes that are already out. The first is a really fun one from GE's futuristic Ecoimagination campaign. By making a print-out from their site and holding it in front of your monitor it brings the animation out of the box and into your room. Here's the Future is Awesome's Duncan Rawlinson demonstrating it with the print out attached to his mobile.
Here are some other DIY examples that illustrate it further 1. 2. 3.
Another very cool, though early incarnation technology that gives us a hint of how we'll be interacting with information in our physical environments comes to us from the MIT Media Lab - demoed at the recent TED conference (via Wired).
It's "a wearable computer system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen." Definitely has some of that early stage Minority Report feel to it and I think when looking at these two examples it's pretty obvious that this world will be here sooner than most people think.
Add sports media to the list of early technology adopter companies alongside the military and porn industries!
ESPN and Electronic Arts have joined forces around the ‘Virtual Playbook’ to shake up the world of broadcast media by launching a new era of immersive mass media experiences.
In recent years sports based games have pushed the evolution of 3D experiences, but now ESPN is bringing football analysis into the era of 3D Augmented Reality. This Fall, ESPN commentators will interact live with realistic 3D virtual NFL players. They will stand next to life sized scale 3D players as they demonstrate based offensive and defensive patterns.
Gamers are obviously thrilled and NFL viewers are likely to become bigger fans of sports commentators able to navigate a virtual landscape of players.
Now that we are witnessing the first mass media application of augmented reality, it becomes easier to build a futures road map looking at the convergence of drivers that support augmented mass media experiences.
We can see clear developmental lines of commercialization with 3D software (ray trace rendering, 3D authoring etc.), hardware (terahertz chips and video servers) and display technology (thin film, flexible OLEDs and high def projection systems) and interface standards (gesture, smart object and motion based interactions).
Thanks to ESPN, we have now jumped to major hurdles – viable business models around convergence of 3D software, gaming and virtual world companies with broadcast media. And the biggest barrier with the most uncertainty – People! Specifically mainstream TV viewers.
Entrepreneurs can now start imagining the unique applications. When might students use augmented reality to create reports – immersing themselves in history scenes or building cities? When might kids insert themselves inside a Dora the Explorer adventure? Or aspiring athletes play the world champions in an immersive experience that makes Wii tennis look like 8 bit pong?
When might technicians and engineers use augmented reality to work collaboratively long distance? Could Home Depot or our plumber walk us step by step through the bathroom project?!
The list of mainstream applications is exhaustive. And the convergence of technologies is within sight. There is no need to overstate and ‘hype’ augmented reality, or bow to naysayer skeptics of tech adoption. Augmented reality is much more appealing and functional than a pure virtual world experience. And it could give a boost to TV broadcasters desperate to stay relevant.
3, 5, 7 or 10 years is not too far off for mainstream applications at work and home! But how do we get there?
"You can have children reading about Alice in Wonderland ... and Alice can pop out of the page, and have a tea party on the page."
Every amazing new technology needs to be wrapped in an equally elegant high-demand application if it is to diffuse past just the military on through the human masses. Often the first killer app is targeted at youth (ie, Facebook, Club Penguin, MMORPGs), then gradually spreads upward to older generations that require more convincing and immediately useful applications.
When it comes to augmented reality, it's possible that a company called Mixed Reality Lab (MXR), a spin-off owned by the National University of Singapore, is on the verge of creating such a cross-over app: Virtual 3D Pop-ups for Children's Books.
Coming on the heels of MXR's real-time augmented battlefield displays, the new Magic Books product aims to generate revenue from mommies and daddies who feeled compelled to get their kids interfacing with the most advanced new media.