Saturday, October 06, 2007

Augmented Reality

A notable development involves three technologies; a spatially-referenced database, GPS, and position-sensitive head-mounted display to superimpose mediated content over the visual field. Thus, an installer at Boeing follows the prescribed wiring diagram projected over the interior fuselage of a 777, a student at Columbia University sees long-since demolished buildings along with texts for a historically-enriched walk about the campus, and computer games can be projected and played beyond the screen, across the neighborhood. The military is working on AR applications to the battlespace, allowing soldiers to "see" through walls and underground.

In an early post here, we looked at the potential of the computer to let us experience the world as text. We may soon get locationally-driven messages in the form of advertisements that link our interests to the proximity of resources and services. Just as the audio guides we mentioned earlier can enrich our walk through an historic neighborhood, we may be headed to a whole new level of interpreted experience as media tied to space and our view of it changes.

The modern city already is a text. It wears the intentional commentary of its inhabitants; in signs, advertising, and graffiti, just as it wears the unintentional signs of use, wear, and movement. The rise of AR may allow us to become new flaneurs, taking in a world where unlimited annotation is visible in the moment.

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