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5 awesome ways augmented reality could improve your life

Instructions become interactive

Do you like reading instruction manuals? I don’t. Well, in the future your new appliance or Ikea furniture could come with a smartphone app instead of a book. Instead of looking at a book to learn what the next step is, you’re phone will use the camera to recognize what it’s looking at. It will know how much of your new TV stand you’ve completed and what the next step is. Virtual screws and arrows will point out what step comes next and exactly where things go. Once you complete a step, it’ll move on to the next.

Maybe you just want to figure out how to use your new laundry machine. Hover your phone over it and each button will get a virtual label. For college kids, the washing machine can tell you exactly what Permanent Press is, so you don’t have to call your mom.

In the concept video below, a toner cartridge is changed using augmented reality instructions.

Visual search brings print to life

Google Goggles is the beginning of visual search, but imagine hovering your phone over an item to instantly display its review ranking or price right over the object. Better, AR visual search could make print publications like magazines come back to life. An issue of Time could have statistics that expand when your look at it with your phone, or maybe the publication lets you manipulate the info yourself. Hovering over an author’s name could instantly display more of their writing.

Advertising could benefit as well. That new T-shirt ad may allow you see other sizes, check prices, change shirt colors, or even manipulate design right on the fly. Augmented reality, in some ways, can put print on a level playing field with the Web. The video below demonstrates this, to a degree.

Social networking in person?

This is almost happening already, but imagine seeing someone in real life, pointing your phone at them, and instantly seeing their latest status updates or tweets. It’s an odd idea, yeah, but if you’re like me and forget people’s names, turning your phone into a people Pokedex is an appealing proposition.

On the flip side of that, this video by TAT shows that you may be able to put on an augmented ID, much like you put on a pair of pants or wear a fancy suit to an event. Perhaps if you are at a business event, you can attach your resume to your augmented ID. If anyone looks at you with a smartphone or augment-enabled device, they’ll instantly see exactly what you want them to see, and only what you want them to see.

It’s coming sooner than you think

In the next year or two, you’ll begin to see and hear a lot more about augmented reality. While most current attempts at augmented reality involve taking a picture and then waiting for a Web result, Qualcomm (and likely other chip manufacturers) are finally developing the technology that will allow phones to instantly detect augmented reality signals at 30 frames per second, meaning your phone can react to what it sees 30 times per second, faster than the human eye. With the proliferation of 4G wireless networks, the technology may start popping up in sunglasses and other eyewear, and eventually we may find a way to project it without any screens at all.

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