I recently tweeted about some cool new technology that is fast approaching and has been dubbed “augmented reality“. The basic gist is that some sensors read information about a real scene and then a computer somehow projects additional virtual objects onto the scene. The easiest sensor type at the moment is the lowly computer “web”cam. The optimal setup for augmented reality, in my mind, would be transparent glasses with camera that can both see and figure their orientation. This technology already mass produced and demonstrated in the Wii Remote. Then the virtual elements of the scene would be drawn on the glasses the user is wearing. I see this as being the ultimate medium for what some people are calling Sixth Sense technology, an always online digital assistant that helps you navigate your life without ever touching an actual interface or looking at what we now consider a screen. You’d just have a little Clippy-like assistant with you at all times.
GE has at least realized the novelty of this new technology and has a working demonstration up on their website: plugintothesmartgrid.com. The idea is simple. Print out the PDF and hold it up to your webcam. The computer calculates the orientation of the image on the paper and projects a 3D “digital hologram” onto the screen. Very, very, very cool!
I tried the two holograms they have available. You can blow into your microphone and make the turbines spin. Neato.