Numerous studies have shown that Wondergressive readers are funnier, more attractive, likeable and intelligent than the average human being (links pending, but the science looks solid to me). This being the case, I’m sure many of you were already aware of futuristic-sounding, mind-blowing technology known as augmented reality. It even sounds very sci-fi. I’ve chanced upon this amazing bit of science twice (that I’m aware of) so far, and both times I’ve been left with my mouth hanging open.
The first time I ran into it was at Printing Arts, a print shop in Broadview, IL. They were printing baseball cards (which are apparently “in” again) as well as some other sports-related collateral when one of the guys showed me a card that was about an eighth of an inch thick. It had a cutout on the front through which you could feel the fabric of some player’s jersey. I think it was some football player’s, but honestly, I’m not a sports girl so I don’t remember exactly what game it was. Anyway, he told me to take out my phone, pull up the camera and wait for it to focus on the card from directly above it. Not sure what to expect, I played along. Holy shit—a video started to play on my camera screen! I was floored. Still am, actually.
Basically, the camera picks up on some code which wasn’t visible on the face of the card, accesses the corresponding video from the interwebs and streams it right onto your phone. This all happens in the space of seconds, not minutes, and is virtually transparent to the user.
The second instance was very recent. A work acquaintance showed me an app he had on his iPhone called SkyView by Terminal Eleven. Being something of an astronomy nut and long-time stargazer, I was again amazed by how far technology had come while I wasn’t looking.
StarView is an augmented reality app that shows you a view of the sky right on your iPhone. As you move your mobile device through the air, it seamless reveals the heavens in your little window. Stars, constellations, planets and even satellites all show up. You can further see the trajectory of celestial objects for a 24-hour period and even change the date to see the results of the past or the future.
While both those examples are great and awe-inspiring for sure, there are actually many practical uses for augmented reality, especially in our increasingly mobile lives. Educational apps like Science AR and Anatomy 4D turn posters and other printed materials into interactive pieces. Virtual History ROMA boasts about its “full-immersion panoramic experience.”
WorkSnug allows you to see where free WiFi is located and even has a decibel meter to gauge noise level so that you can work comfortably wherever you’re at. Speaking of cities, Acrossair tells Londoners where their nearest tube station is via their iPhone’s video function.
User “Mos D.” says of Yelp’s Monocle app:
I love monocle (sic). Stand on the street, point it around you 360 degrees, and it shows you nearby places. Imagine you are the Terminator and that’s how it works.
Is that what all this is coming to? We’ll all have Terminators in our pockets and will navigate the world through miniature screens? If it means not having to ask questionable, seedy-looking strangers where the subway is, I’m on board.