AUGMENTED REALITY: The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades

I’m very bullish on Augmented Reality, which is essentially layering the digital world on top of the real world using some sort of transparent display or light field that sits between the eyes and meatspace. But, before I talk about that, I need to clarify something: Augmented Reality is often lumped with Virtual Reality, but that’s just wrong. The two are radically different. One takes you to a galaxy far, far away. The other makes the real world better. Sure, both technologies provide a three-dimensional rendering of objects and create extra-real experiences. But, beyond that, the two could not be more different. VR takes you to impossible places. AR layers the impossible on the place you’re at right now.

VR will likely find its home as a new and immersive media experience, one ideally suited to storytelling and interactivity. It will sit alongside television, video games and movies. Augmented Reality will also enable innovative new ways to tell stories – but it’ll do much more.

Oh, and calling Google Glass an augmented reality device is just wrong as well. Instead of augmenting the real world with seamlessly rendered virtual objects and data visualizations, Glass simply replaced a rectangular portion of your field of view with a tiny glowing rectangle. It didn’t augment, it interrupted. Glass, and its antecedents – including the ultimate precursor, the Xybernaut Poma from 2002 – belong to the disgraced category of interrupted reality, one that forces the user to switch contexts from the real world to a screen.

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