Monday, Mar. 22, 2010

Augmented Reality

Conceptually, augmented reality isn't anything new — if you've watched the Olympics or seen a first-down marker during a televised football game, you're familiar with digital overlays enhancing real-life events. But one challenge for 2010 will be harnessing the growing ubiquity of webcams and smartphones to make augmented reality useful as a tool in day-to-day life. One of the best examples yet is the virtual box simulator from the U.S. Postal Service, which taps into your webcam to let you figure out what size box is needed to ship an an item through overlaying a semi-transparent 3D model of the box. Other examples for 2010 range from a John Mayer music video to Xbox's upcoming Project Natal.

Augmented reality is a hot trend in iPhone apps as well. They include offerings that let shoot you friends with virtual lasers in the iPew application or tracking down your parked car with Car Finder. Gimmicky? A bit. But developers are only just beginning to get a handle on the types of implementations that are possible.