Let’s start off with the definition, then I’ll show you how it’s used.

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.
[Wikipedia]

Yelp was one of the first to use Augmented Reality in their iPhone apps. Back with the iPhone 3GS, they added a Monocle feature which would let people see reviews and recommendations through their iPhone screen.

So it’s a virtual layer added to a real world view.

Aurasma made headlines at CES when they showed the detailed messages that augmented reality can share. Their app lets you virtually tag items anywhere in the world with extra content. A soccer jersey could show highlights, a dollar bill could dance, a magazine cover could give you ticket information, a tourist destination can be tagged with tips. It’s sort of like geocaching, but all of the treasures are added online content.

The big newsmaker to use augmented reality, is the release of Google’s Project Glass. No longer will you need a omputer, or a phone to access the web, a simple set of glasses could have a virtual world augmenting your real one.

While some of the ways to use augmented reality above are practical, the one I use the most is SkyView. This app layars a map of the stars on top of your view of the sky so you can track planets, satellites, stars, constellations and more. I used it just this weekend camping with my son at Bow Valley – you should grab it too.

Others are using augmented reality to make tshirts come alive. Take a picture of this tshirt and a pet dragon will appear, and even breathe fire. Johnson & Johnson uses AR to make The Muppets on their bandages come to life and play a song.

IBM is working with retailers to use AR as a way to give more information about products on the shelves, in hopes this will gain traction where QR codes slipped.

The Philadelphia Eagles added AR to their season tickets to make them come alive with player announcements, highlights, and more content.

Vancouver has taken augmented reality to the streets to reveal the city’s past. At specific intersections, you can swipe between past and present while looking at landmarks. The Royal Ontario Museum is using augmented reality to let patrons put skin on their dinosaur skeletons.

You get the idea. Augmented reality is popping up everywhere, as a thick layer of information floating on top of the real world. Get ready for it to start appearing in more and more places.

APP OF THE WEEK
Canada Cheers is a free app from the Canadian Olympic Team that lets you follow the athletes on social media, and send them cheers. The hashtag #giveyoureverything is the one they want you to use to move the athletes up the podium.

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