iPhone using the Wikitude application, demonst...
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At first I was skeptical about augmented reality, I thought it was just a gimmicky way to display information.  Now I’m seeing that your device knowing exactly where you are and in what direction you are looking combined with your device knowing who you are and what you need to know right now make the computer or device disappear and in the information you need take up centre stage.  It’s all about putting things in context!

At the moment you can access augmented reality in a number of ways.  Institution such as the Powerhouse museum are putting a Layar of information over our world so that it is easier to navigate or interpret.  This can super useful for making the most out of things and finding things quickly. For example where the nearest ATM is or what this area looked like 100 years ago.  Junaio is another application that allows developer to put multimedia over the top of your work either using your location or by using visual search to identify visual patterns, this is great because it means that you can use it inside and outside.  You as the user can then access this information in the field.

User generated augmented reality is also coming.  Wikitude is a good example of how users can upload information that will then appear over the top of things. There are a number of applications such as Foursquare that do a good job of the basics eg sharing location based information and Google have just announced they will be introducing location based ‘check-in’ style interactions.  Tagwhat seems to be the application of choice but it isn’t available in Australia yet.

The other week our office went on a short excursion to the Museum of Contemporary Art where we had the pleasure of experiencing  a different kind of augmented reality experience that included the ability for users to put simple objects in the real world and see the objects that others had added.  The art work was designed to have users build awareness of the world around them by saying how they thought things could be improved.

Some educational bloggers are also seeing the potential.  The ideas are simple and context driven, subtle but powerful stuff.  eg: a system for providing hints on Sodoku problems, science demonstrations that literally pop out of the text book, playing games on the real world and this ‘ubiquitous learning’ idea.

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