What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality is a system that connects two world : real world and generated by computer 3d world. It usually use video and sometimes sound. Additional objects are always generated in real time and give the user freedom of movement in three dimensions. It is different from virtual reality because it does not try to simulate real world. Instead it add some contextual data to real world objects. It can be data about location, history, owner etc. Augmented Reality is used in science, military but lately it comes to everyday life. It is very good way of learning and can be use for example in medicine to show students details of human body. Additional emotions generated by augmented reality make easy to remember things that we learn. It is often used in commercials, because it give many possibilities to have influence on customer.
Present of Augmented Reality
Today augmented reality become more popular. It is used in commercials, education, science, military etc. Many companies are involved in augmented reality.
Google and General Electric developed project SmartGrid which use video camera connected to PC and special symbol (marker) to show conceptual models of alternative power sources You can see how it works in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK59Beq0Sew.
Toyota shows very good iQ commercial with use of augmented reality. You can see it here : http://www.toyota.co.uk/cgi-bin/toyota/bv/frame_start.jsp?id=iQ_reality It is great way to show advantages of product with interaction with customer.
Microsoft show how augmented reality can influence the way we shopping. Here you can see they idea http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nvqVU1fBPI . Microsoft also try to explore augmented reality in they Xbox 360 Kinect controller.
The are many applications for iphone and Android based phones that use augmented reality. Very good example is Wikitude (http://www.wikitude.org/). It base on tagging places and can show a lot of information about place that your mobile phone camera see. It is free so try it.
Augmented reality is often used in cars. It can show information in front glass (head-up display) or extend navigation system (advance Becker navigations have camera that show tips how to drive on street view). This kind of use was took from military systems.
Interesting books about augmented reality
Future of Augmented Reality
Future of augmented reality is really hard to predict. It depends of many fields of science. Scientist indicates few main paths of development :
1)Moving image from computer monitor to real world. Programs will be show as 3d visualizations of things.
2)Creating virtual conferences. Devices that create 3d views of people that we want to talk to.
3)Virtual devices for everyday use. Watches, radios, GPS etc. They can be created in computer so cost of production is barely zero (just write software).
I thing that augmented reality is the future and we should watch how it develops and grow.