Divi­sions between the Inter­net and the real world are blur­ring as the two con­tinue to merge.

augmented reality Augmented reality: The two worlds merge.In its early days, the Inter­net remained sep­a­rate from the ‘real’ world and there was lit­tle over­lap.
Peo­ple would open up a web browser and ‘go on-line’ to check their emails, stock reports or the lat­est sport scores.

Now, every­thing seems to exist in a state of ‘always-online’ and with the advance­ment of aug­mented real­ity, we are see­ing a mas­sive shift in the way peo­ple are get­ting and inter­act­ing with infor­ma­tion. Things have cer­tainly changed a lot in the last ten years.


A brief his­tory of aug­mented reality

virtual reality headset Augmented reality: The two worlds merge.

Early aug­mented real­ity attempts were less than spectacular.

Adi­das make an aug­mented real­ity shoe that you clunkily con­trol a basic video game by wav­ing said shoe in front of a web­cam. It doesn’t do any­thing else. Peo­ple go back to check­ing their facebook.


Aug­mented real­ity gains a wide­spread fol­low­ing, with Google Gog­gles and Layar becom­ing pop­u­lar apps for iPhone and Android devices. How­ever, the tech­nol­ogy remains more novel than useful.


Hun­dreds of aug­mented real­ity apps are devel­oped, with the move­ment gain­ing momen­tum. How­ever, the prac­ti­cal use of these early stage apps is still rea­son­ably limited.


3D HD dis­play gog­gles promise a more immer­sive Inter­net.
Early stage con­sumer heads up dis­plays (HUDs) are tri­alled. Dizzi­ness ensues.

moscot lemtosh glasses Augmented reality: The two worlds merge.

The lat­est aug­mented real­ity glasses are both com­fort­able and stylish.

Dis­play tech­nol­ogy is now dizziness-free and use­ful appli­ca­tions for the tech­nol­ogy are devel­oped. It is still a bit strange to see some­one wear­ing the gog­gles in pub­lic but it is becom­ing increas­ingly acceptable.


Today, VR HUD glasses are as com­mon­place as the iPod was 10 years ago. Look­ing no dif­fer­ent from ordi­nary sun­glasses, they have become pop­u­lar with every­one from teens though to stock traders. Hop onto any bus or walk down any city street and you’ll no doubt see them in use.


How the Aug­mented Real­ity glasses work

Look­ing much like ordi­nary sun­glasses, the dis­plays are avail­able in a num­ber of styles — from mod­ern to vintage-inspired frames. In most new mod­els, all of the ‘tech’ is essen­tially hidden.

Indi­vid­ual pairs of glasses are cal­i­brated to the wearer in order to pro­vide crisp images and a real­is­tic three-dimensional depth expe­ri­ence. Intel­li­gent sen­sors detect the amount of light com­ing through and adjust the dis­play bright­ness auto­mat­i­cally. Fin­ger­tip sen­sors con­trol the action.

The dis­play can be set to ‘Full-vision-mode’ for a full screen expe­ri­ence that blocks out any real world periph­ery. This is use­ful when watch­ing a movie or play­ing games.
How­ever, a more com­mon every­day street usage is ‘Dual-mode’. This allows you to inter­act with apps and Inter­net whilst still being able to view the real world. Switch­ing focus between the 3D over­lays and the real world is much the same as wear­ing a pair of bifocals.


What it means for you

The real ben­e­fit here is in apps which use the 3D over­lays cleverly.

Feel­ing hun­gry? See which restau­rants are high­est rated as you walk down the street.

Need direc­tions? Just say where you need to go and the dis­play will guide you there.

Trav­el­ling over­seas and need a trans­la­tion? Just look at text through the glasses for an instant translation.

Want to share a video with a friend? Just send it directly to their HUD glasses.

And this is only the beginning…

Of course, a major ben­e­fit of the glasses is that they allow you to vir­tu­ally be in a place that you’re not really in, or indeed, sev­eral places at once. This is hav­ing mas­sive impli­ca­tions for tele­con­fer­enc­ing, work­ing remotely, as well as stay­ing in touch with friends and family.


It goes with­out say­ing — this is the start of some­thing big. And as it devel­ops fur­ther, the appli­ca­tions for this tech­nol­ogy are endless.

The real ques­tion is: do we want it? Are we los­ing that which makes us human or are we improv­ing upon our human ability?

Will this dilute people’s intu­ition and con­nec­tion with the real world or serve to enhance it? Will the senses of touch, taste and smell lose promi­nence as visual and audi­tory expe­ri­ences are enhanced?

Let us know what you think by com­ment­ing below.


Image cred­its: Red Black Pro­duc­tion, No Pants DayKathrin-Thuy OTTO