Augmented reality

18.05.10

Is augmented reality the future?

Brace yourselves: augmented reality is coming.

Augmented reality is the rather grandiose way of describing software which takes a real camera feed and slaps new information over the top. At the moment, it has pretty limited application. For example, your iPhone (other smartphones are available) can combine its GPS, compass and orientation to work out where you are and where you’re pointing it and then use that to create floating virtual pointers on the screen, layered over the real view from the camera. Like signs for the nearest tube. You know, like signs that you have in the real world. Pointless, ay?

But don’t write it off just yet. The latest development is for the camera to identify what its seeing and use the internet to provide more information on it. Google Googles for example allows you to point your (Android) phone at a restaurant and have instant access to reviews and everything else the internet can offer on it.

All well and good, but does this mean we’ll all just wander around staring at our phones all the time? Seems to be handy as occasional tool, but not a game-changer. But how long will it be before this is all integrated into a pair of glasses? And if that comes off, then that could really change things. Billboard advertising could be a link to a website, and the retail environment could be littered with cues for special offers and adverts. Slightly terrifying in an Orwellian nightmare type of way, but it could have enormous implications for pack design, as packs transcend their mere physical reality with what they offer in the digital realm.