Jargonbuster: ‘Augmented reality’

Wtf is ‘Augmented Reality’?

A number of media experts mentioned it as something that will be big(ger) in 2010. It sounds a bit sci-fi, but it’s probably quite useful to know what it means.

Here are a few definitions I found online:

Wikipedia Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality. The augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally usable.

Hmm… not sure that really helps. Something about mixed reality and football scores.

HowStuffWorksOn the spectrum between virtual reality, which creates immersive, computer-generated environments, and the real world, augmented reality is closer to the real world. Augmented reality adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell to the natural world as it exists. Both video games and cell phones are driving the development of augmented reality. Everyone from tourists, to soldiers, to someone looking for the closest subway stop can now benefit from the ability to place computer-generated graphics in their field of vision.

Okay. So we can use technology to get information/images/etc that’s relevant to our actual location. That’s quite cool. Foursquare’s probably the best example of this in use so far.

To find out more, here’s a Guardian article on how journalists can use augmented reality. It explains the whole concept quite simply –

“Journalism gathers information about the world around us. Thanks to augmented reality, this information can be displayed where it got picked up – which is especially interesting for event reporting.”

Now I’m starting to get it and can see how and why it would work. I’ll quit while I’m ahead – I’m sure we’ll hear more about augmented reality this year. Plus 3D is going to be big apparently, so need to save a bit of brainspace.

Finally, here’s a very cool, early-adopter use of augmented reality by adidas:

Trainers with a code embedded in the tongue – hold it up to a webcam on the website – use trainer as a controller to make it a 3D world – WHOA

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