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Augmented reality goes mainstream with mobile applications

Chances are your first introduction to augmented reality (AR) was in the 1986 movie Top Gun where our fighter pilot heroes fly planes with heads-up displays that let them monitor their planes and weapons while watching their flight. Now, augmented reality is moving from planes, high-end cars, and military helmet mounted displays to more consumer and personal settings. Indeed, AR is on the verge of becoming commonplace and commercially successful.

Augmented reality interlaces our vision with digital information. Robert Rice, chairman of the Augmented Reality Consortium defines AR as “any media that is specific to your location and the context of what you are doing (or want to do) and augments or enhances your specific reality.”

So what does that mean? It means, with new applications like Google Goggles, you can use your phone’s built-in camera to ‘search’ your enviroment by taking photos of your surroundings and Google will report back with information about what you’re looking at. While Google is getting the headlines, especially now that it’s toying not only with its own mobile device operating system, Android, but its own mobile phone, the Nexus One, they’re not the only ones playing with augmented reality.

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