Is augmented reality going to be the Next Big Thing? A lot of people think so, as all the increasing talk is helping the topic rapidly ascend the Technology Trigger in Gartnerâ€™s 2009 hype cycle for emerging technologies published last month.
I wrote about this topic in July. Now itâ€™s one I keep seeing popping up everywhere.
With so much hype already, and the build-up increasing, whatâ€™s the best way to grasp what augmented reality means in a practical sense in your daily life?
Hereâ€™s one way â€“ a video published last week by Layar, a Dutch company at the forefront of AR on mobile devices, and video tourism company EyeTour. It shows what you could do with an AR â€˜layerâ€™ on a mobile device as you tour a city (San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the example).
I think itâ€™s a great illustration of how augmented reality could be of distinct use in a pragmatic way: youâ€™re in a new city, you can interactively find out information about your surroundings with your mobile device, in real time â€“ tourist spots, historical sites, museums and parks, photo galleries and videos at the points of interest.
See what you think of this:
I think you can immediately grasp how useful AR would be for this kind of activity, especially on a mobile device. I first heard about Layar from Tom Raftery.
This emerging technology first caught my attention a few months ago with two examples, both of which I wrote about â€“ first, in June, James Allibanâ€™s augmented reality business card (which I heard about when I wrote about making business cards become smart cards); and second, in July, IBMâ€™s Seer beta for G1 and G2 Android phones (which I mentioned, almost in passing, in a post about IBMâ€™s Wimbledon app for iPhone).
How important will this technology be? Where will it impact our lives? What implications should we as communicators consider?
Big questions and I have no immediate answers other than this: Iâ€™m paying attention to augmented reality, hopefully seeing through the increasing hype, so I can better understand it and, therefore, make better sense of what it might mean.
Itâ€™s early days still. But just seeing whoâ€™s already doing what, and how developments are rapidly moving, this is something we ought to keep an active eye on.