People regularly complain that the future they were promised has not yet arrived, but with the increasingly prevalent use of augmented reality (AR), they may soon be eating their words. Or, if they don’t, you can probably find an app for that. Augmented reality technology supplements the real world with virtual objects and information, in real time.
Google Glass was a hot topic in 2012 and it’s on fire in 2013. This head-mounted virtual display is worn like sunglasses, but projects virtual information and graphics over the objects you are looking at. The head of the Project Glass, Babak Parviz, recently gave an interview for IEEE.org. He said that they have two main goals; first, to enable people to connect more fully and easily with each other, using pictures, video, and other media, allowing them to share the world as they experience it. Next, they want to give people access to the information they want very quickly and easily.
Anything Google happens to do becomes popular immediately, so many eyes are on their project. However, there are many other companies developing their own AR glasses. Rod Furlan, an artificial intelligence researcher, has proven that Google doesn’t hold all the marbles by building his own pair of AR glasses.
His prototype is extremely basic, clunky, and needed a cord, but he said that he was “… connected to the world in a way that is quintessentially different from how I’m connected with a smartphone and computer.” Taking it off, he said that he felt a sense of loss.
Furlan’s insight into AR systems from creating and wearing his own device is that the true promise of this technology will be realized with the second-generation systems and applications that will come after AR becomes more mainstream. These programs will act as your perfect memory, letting you bring up recordings and transcripts of conversations you had, accompanied by faces, names, and practically whatever other information you’d like. With what Furlan calls ‘augmented cognition’, you will have access to incredible amounts of information and references to assist you in any situation.
The incredible AR game Urban Troops proves that AR glasses haven’t left smartphones in the dust quite yet. This game, available via the Google Play store for Android devices, is a multiplayer first-person-shooter video game that uses information from the real world.
Urban Troops brings the immensely popular shooter video games into a whole new dimension. A group of people with Android smartphones can gather for a game that takes place in the space between the purely virtual and the purely physical. The screen shows the weapon and HUD, overlaid on the actual environment. By accessing the GPS systems in the phones, the game shows the location of players. Players can also contact each other to strategize. Check out a demo video on Youtube.
There is no doubt that augmented reality computing will continue to develop and slide further into our lives. People just find it too damn fascinating and useful. From AR-friendly cities to AR shopping to AR emergency procedures, we will all find our realities augmented in the not-so-far future.