Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that allows data from the web to be overlaid on a view of the real world. Is the virtual world of 2010 is on a collision course with reality?
A new wearable device that enables these interactions between the real world and the world of data is called SixthSense.
Check out this SixthSense video from earlier this year at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference in Long Beach, California; it's incredible.
Using creative thinking on an existing or old product (or service) is a method used to come up with new innovations; SixthSense is the result of such a leveraging exercise, using a type of plus and minus method.
"We've evolved over millions of years to sense the world around us. We use our five natural senses to perceive information. But the huge amount of information mankind has accumulated and stored online cannot be perceived by these senses. There is no link between our digital devices and our interactions with the physical world," says Pranav Mistry, the inventor of SixthSense.
Mistry, a PhD student and researcher on Professor Patti Maes' MIT Media Lab team in the US, leveraged his everyday knowledge of an old computer mouse, the type with a ball inside, and how he used it in everyday life, to come up with a new way of interacting in the real world.
The result is a completely portable device that recognizes images, people or gestures you make in the air with your hands, and allows the user to turn any surface into an interactive display like a computer screen.
Sixth Sense integrates the digital informational experience with our interactions in our physical world.
With smart phones integrating all forms of digital media, augmented reality is the next step in bringing the virtual and the real together in one experience. "This is something marketers have wanted to do forever," says Brian Morrissey, Adweek's digital editor, and adds, "It's a part of a larger goal - how do you make marketing useful? That's the holy grail for everyone".
As the physical and virtual worlds continue to blur, just remember to keep an open mind.
"The empires of the future are the empires of the mind." - Sir Winston Churchill, September 6, 1943, while speaking at Harvard University.