Browsers will take Augmented Reality mainstream

Rory Cellan-Jones, tech correspondent at the BBC reports on how Augmented Reality is now available in public spaces such as Trafalgar Square.

It ends with a skeptical person saying what many have used before about new developments. The person, of course is one of the Ladygeeks, who says that ionly people with a lot of time to kill will use something like AR. I was immediately reminded of the 1943 comment, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” That was an observation by Thomas Watson, who was the chairman of IBM, no less.

While it is too early to tell if AR will go the way of Second Life, which became a nice experiment and somewhat fad, it is too early to write it off as pointless, or too geeky.

Especially with the new Augmented Reality browser, Wikitude, that has already started appearing in some smart phones. Before the browser came along, you could download an application such as Layar that works with the iPhone and Android.

You don’t need to be technically savvy to use interact with AR. The camera in a smart phone, laptop, tablet even iPod is all you need. The browser does the rest. Says Wikitude, “By using the camera, simply hold up your smartphone and explore your surroundings. Wikitude will overlay the camera’s display and the objects you look at with additional interactive content and information.”

Soon there will be many browsers, such as Wikitude. Another good browser called Argon was out earlier, and was developed by Blair MacIntyre, at the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. When that happens, it won’t be people with time to kill who begin using it. As organizations, cities, libraries, and media and entertainment companies begin to see the value in layered, augmented information, how we think of AR will change.

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