A carpenter considers the wall she’s about to build and goes a bit fuzzy on the dimensions. She pulls out her phone, points it at the wall and the camera viewfinder shows the background while the internet provides the view of the future wall. She scrolls to menu and finds the dimensions and other attributes. She looks at the wall through her phone and can see the future wall. That is augmented reality.
Sound fantastic? All the pieces of technology are now available on new phones: fast internet connections, GPS, tilt sensors and the last piece of this technology, which recently became available on phones and will soon be widespread, digital compasses. With those pieces of technology, the software knows where you are, which way you point your phone and what angle you tilt it.
The first uses of augmented reality will probably be crowd sourced from Wikitude, a travel guide application. You can point your phone while traveling through Germany, for example, and see the names of landmarks, castles, and other points of interest. As you zoom in, you can find much more information about those items you see. As people around the world add content (like on Wikipedia) imagine the increase of accessible intelligence you’ll have!
We live in a time of change that transcends most of our imaginations. Take some time every month to keep up with the technology. When you fall too far behind, you lose value. If you want to read an excellent article about augmented reality, try this at The Economist.