If you have not heard of Augmented Reality, here's a quick definition:
Augmented reality (lets just call it "AR") is 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.
Still not sure what AR is all about? Here's how it can work: you are walking (or driving) down the street. With AR displays (they may look like a normal pair of glasses) informative graphics will appear in your field of view, and audio will coincide with whatever you see. These enhancements will be refreshed continually to reflect your movement. Sounds futuristic? Nope, this technology is already here! Devices and applications already exist! If you have an iPhone or other smart phone you can try downloading some of the new AR applications using the links below.
The AR market is expected to reach $700 million in only five years.* AR applications are being developed for cell phones, GPS units, and cameras. Search Youtube for "Augmented Reality" and you can watch videos that show how this technology is taking the mobile industry by storm - and how it will soon affect your personal life and business.
Help your business? Sure! Think about advertising your business on AR apps. AR overlays real-world objects or locations shown in a camera display and adds text, links, and images, pointing to specific things. This enables the user to learn more about everything from stores with discounts, available services, special promos, restaurants, and even the latest gadgets.
Traveling? Take it along with your GPS device (or a phone that has GPS) and you've got real-time specific information for your exact location. Coming back from a long weekend and you need a massage? Find the massage therapist nearest to you. Meeting a client at a new location? AR helps you track, locate and describe the spot.
What about education and research scenarios? Imagine a camping trip where you can immediately identifying the terrain you see, or the animals you encounter.
There are so many opportunities for this technology and it is quickly becoming a standard feature for all mobile service providers.
Yelp MOnocle for iphone - 3GS uses your iPhone's camera, GPS, and compass to show virtual items in the real world
Layar - free mobile phone application shows what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of reality through the camera of your mobile phone
Urbanspoon has an AR app called "Scope." This camera-based app shows the popularity and distance of restaurants.
Photo and definition above from Wikipedia