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Top augmented reality innovations of 2009-10

Augmented reality is still in its infant stages. Much of the work that has been developed using the medium only hints at future possibilities.

Accordingly, much of it is gimmicky and pointless. There are a few ideas, though, that use the technology in a truly innovative and exciting way. Here are 5 that really impressed us:

Books

Something you see quite a lot of in augmented reality demonstrations is the use of QR codes to provide the camera with an identifiable image over which to animate. Not so with Camille Scherrer’s augmented books. In this video, a camera is set up in the lampshade and connected to a laptop installed with the necessary rendering software. The software identifies the shapes of the page, and animates over them, presenting a version of the book on-screen that is inhabited by wolves, moving trees, and various other fantastical things. Kids books are already a market dominator in the publishing industry; the impact this technology could have is enormous.

Gaming

Many of the applications for augmented reality lean towards the entertainment side of things, particularly in gaming. And many of the hypothetical games lean rather heavily on the technology for the ‘wow factor.

ARhrrrr is a zombie shooter game. A small town, rendered with QR diagrams, is placed on a table. Players then approach it with video handsets and, as though they were a sniper in a helicopter, circle around the table picking off zombies. Whilst the game as it’s depicted in the video is relatively rudimentary, the potential this has for the future of gaming-aerially oriented strategy games is particular-is very exciting.

Whilst Ghostwire is effectively only a game at this stage, it raises the possibilities of augmented reality cinema (especially given the vogue of films like the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity). Although there isn’t a huge amount of information about Ghostwire available currently, it appears to be an adventure-style game that projects phantoms into your very surroundings, for you to interact with via the handset. That this technology will be able to bring the horror of games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill into your very home is more than a little unsettling.

Maps

A less dispensible application for AR is the creation of topographic GPS. As this video demonstrates, the technology could transform the 2D world of your TomTom into a fully explorable, topographically accurate depiction of wherever you’re going. Outside of the motoring industry, there’s great potential for this in tourism.

Post

United States Postal Service has come up with a remarkably forward-thinking application that utilizes the print-at-home approach to augmented reality rendering-a site that gives you a physical idea of how large their postage boxes are. They give you a .pdf to print out that features a unique QR code. You log in to the website, hold the QR code up to your webcam, and choose the box size you’d like rendered. Try it.

Unfortunately none of the above are available yet for public use. So here are a few (admittedly quite gimmicky) examples of Augmented Reality that you can investigate right now with little more than your computer, printer, and web camera.

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