Imagine you are reading a newspaper and the pictures on the page are moving. Imagine you have a painting and the man in the frame speaks and gestures at you. Unfortunately this does not mean you are at Hogwarts, but rather is a result of augmented reality.
(Using augmented reality to make toys come to life! See video at the end for more info).
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality or AR, a term first coined Tom Caudell, means “the interaction of superimposed graphics, audio and other sense enhancements over a real-world environment that’s displayed in real-time.” This basically means to overlay video and data in realtime over our physical environment. Even though this technology may seem magical or something out of a science fiction novel, AR has actually been around since the 1900s. In fact, if you had watched the Olympics in which digital drawings and graphics were overlaid on the physical field or track, you have seen a simple version of AR before!
So what now?
Today, with our rapidly developing smartphones and webcams, we are able to make the next steps to merging our physical environment with the digital world. For example, using the virtual box simulator for USPS, you can hold up an item to a webcam and determine the box size you need! Not only is AR practical, it is also entertaining and provides another outlet for advertisement. For instance, for those of you with smartphones, if you see a Happy Feet 2 poster, you can make the penguin dance and come out of the poster. Or if you go to Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum with your iPad, you can make a dinosaur come to life! While this is not exactly “Night at the Museum” yet, in which you still need a medium such as a smartphone, webcam, or an iPad to view the digital projections, it is one step closer.
Of course there are still many challenges and further research that are needed to be overcome and done. The image recognition software for example, needs to be perfected in recognizing different objects and there is always the problem of privacy issues in which how much information can be made available.
A specific example of AR today
Right now, many companies are in the pursuit of AR development ranging from Google with it’s Project Glass to Zappar’s One Direction AR book. One example of the multiple AR projects out there is MIT’s SixthSense prototype (if you have seen The Minority Report, this may look familiar). SixthSense utlilizes and adds on to human beings’ five senses by using natural hand gestures to interact with the digital space and information. SixthSense is made up of a “pocket projector, a mirror and a camera” that tracks the user’s hands and streams videos to the finger tips, literally. It can let the user turn any surface to projector screen. Check out a detailed description in this video.
What does this mean
Not only does augmented reality allow us to have a faster and easier way to get information, but it also opens many new possibilities of displaying and sharing information. This kind to technology innovation can greatly benefit those in the print business as AR can take pictures found in a print magazine and make it come to life in video format. This means, while flipping through a magazine, if the reader wants more information, he or she can point a to the page and get a video on the product or article. In fact, this idea may soon become reality as Ikea will be releasing an AR catalog in 2013! In addition to print, AR can also be used in the video game industry and maybe in the military - the possibilites are endless! (see a video on a possible future for AR here)
See it for yourself!
Download Aurasma Lite, an app for Android and iPhones, then point your phone to these images. Or get IOnRoad, an app that takes note of objects in the lane you are driving on, the speed you are driving, where you are driving, and can generate enough data to warn you of any dangers. More AR apps examples here.
Interesting videos, articles, and objects about the subject/Sources
(VIDEO) TED: Matt Mills: Image recognition that triggers augmented reality
A book of poems, Between Pages and Screen, in which the text appears in the air
The Wikipedia article for augmented reality
(VIDEO/ARTICLE) Use your iPad to make your toys come alive!
(VIDEO) Robert Downey Jr. on Esquire’s Augmented Reality Cover
(VIDEO) many creative AR videos via vimeo
(PHOTO/ARTICLE) Photograph of the newspaper and more relating images can be found here