Augmented Reality is exactly what the words say.  Reality with something added on.  That may not be the most useful definition if you are not already following the concept so let me explain further.

Augmented Reality (or “AR” as it is becoming known) lets you see what is there but adds in some additional data.

The easiest example I can think of is what most cell phones can do now:  If you start an AR application the camera will turn on and the screen will display what is in the camera’s view PLUS additional information about what you are looking at.  Microsoft has an app for Windows 7 Phone and Windows 8 Phone which will display what the location you are looking at USED to look like (say) 100 years ago.  This app uses your GPS to figure out where you are, then Bing Maps to figure out the direction / building / street you are looking at, the it pulls in the old pictures and superimposes them on the screen… very nice.

The same app will give you the weather forecast if you point it at the sky during the day and at night it will show you the names and history of the constellations!

The major app for Google Android is called LAYAR and it is amazing.  Below is a graphic of from another popular Android app called TAGWHAT:

If you haven Apple device like and iPhone you will find AR MAPS interesting and very useful


 There are seemingly endless applications for this type of technology:

  • it could look up competitive prices for products you are looking at
  • it could calculate distances between you and your golf ball
  • it could TELL a blind person that the street corner is coming up
  • it could calculate distances between the ball and the first baseman
  • it could let you see what a product looks like in different colours
  • it could provide news information on the item or building you are looking at

Is you are thinking to yourself, what is the future going to look like, below is a graphic of a pair of augmented reality glasses Microsoft Research patented in 2011:

Microsoft Augmented Reality Glasses
Microsoft Augmented Reality Glasses

In case you weren’t aware; yes, Microsoft has a massive division called Microsoft Research that acts like a University performing nearly pure research on interesting technology stuff.

If you still don’t follow this or you are interested in seeing Augmented Reality in action, check out these short videos:

Nokia CITY LENS for Windows Phone 7


Augmented Reality Mapping for Google Android


Augmented Reality Dancing Girl for Apple iPhone


Augmented Reality is not the future; it is now!  This technology is very exciting and should make all our lives better.


Questions or Comments?