Today we can augment ourselves, use augmentation ideals in math, and augment pharmaceuticals – but augment reality? Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer research that combines the real-world and a computer-generated world into one. We’ve seen the technology through Hollywood’s eyes for years – think of the holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the display in Ironman’s helmet, or the singing and dancing graphics on the cereal box in Minority Report.
AR has been around for years and in the past was mostly used by techies for fun and entertainment, but now augmented reality is becoming a tangible, fiscal reality for the consumer-based market. At the forefront of this new frontier is a company named Total Immersion, who has been developing the field since 1999, and publicly showing the technology since at least 2004. Total Immersion has adapted the concept of AR into several markets including: amusement parks, digital marketing, event and exhibits, and retail environments.
The yellow “first down” lines seen in recent televised NFL seasons are the result of AR. Companies like Doritos are cashing in on the idea, too. They recently launched a campaign by placing AR symbols on the back of Doritos Late Night bags. By visiting their website you unlock video concerts by Blink 182 and Big Boi.
Even the everyday designer is getting in on the action. James Alliban created a business card with an augmented reality symbol on the back. When you visit his website you can hold the symbol up to your web cam and watch a short video – the symbol can also be printed out from your computer.
The possibilities are endless, and exciting, with this technology. Virtual onsite walk-throughs for architectural projects, self-guided walking tours with customizable points of interest, information and visitor tracking at exhibitions – could it even save print newspapers and magazines? I can’t wait to see what this technology holds in the future! I know I plan on using it, if I can find the right project.