Augmented reality. It's a term that has been popping up in the multimedia field a lot lately. Call it the latest internet meme, call it the next generation of marketing, call it a fad. Whatever you call it, you can't ignore it's possibilities.
Simply put, Augmented Reality is technology that merges elements with a view of the physical environment, in this case through a webcam or mobile phone. In relation to interactive media, Augmented Reality is a newborn. It was born with the sudden increase in webcam usage and mobile video cameras over the past several years. With the development of FLARtoolkit, a Flash class library that helps your webcam see and recognize visual markers, developers have been using this technology more than ever. How we use this technology is the make or break point.
It has been noted that AR could be so overused and abused to the point where usability has been sacrificed. This initial "Wow" can only go so far. Marketers need to look further down the road with new utility to keep the users from forgetting about you. Some great utility examples are below.
What is in the future for Augmented Reality? I believe it's future is bright. Given the adoption of a standardized geographical mapping data, mobile phones will be the tool of choice instead of webcams.
Imagine this scenario: You are traveling abroad and would like to know what restaurants are in the area. You take out your mobile phone, type in "Restaurants", you are presented with a list of nearby restaurants, make your selection, you look through the camera and an arrow appears on the road with directions to the nearest restaurant.
Look for Augmented Reality to take off with mobile adoption. There seems to be more room for utility and innovation in that (so far) untapped realm. As usual, Force 5 will keep all eyes open to make sure we don't miss a thing.