Victus Spiritus


Augmented Reality Overload

15 Feb 2010

The Bing maps team is exploring the enormous opportunities of augmented reality mixed with mapping. If you haven't seen this TED talk by Blaise Aguera y Arcas, I suggest you take a few minutes to do so now (thanks Tyler for pointing me to this one).

Rapidly advancing technologies are converging to empower virtual and augmented reality applications:

  1. geometry mapping massively distributed imagery taken from many perspectives to 3 dimensional structures*
  2. identifying location information (latitude, longitude, altitude) within 3 dimensional maps
  3. mobile devices with knowledge of location, orientation, and built in cameras
  4. enormous upgrades in wireless bandwidth (they used 4G to stream the real time video)

*The advanced 3D features work only in Internet Explorer


The limitations on past game experiences have been tied to desktops, or mobile displays. Given availability to this type of 3D AR, imagine the type of first person games you could create and play. I envision virtual dinosaurs roaming the streets, or a surreal zombie hoard laying waste to your local university. It's an easy jump to conceptualize mashups of many different AR games all sharing a visual interface with you and your fellow players. The gaming experiences is about to break out of the living room, future consoles will be tiny mobiles with head sets.

Business Opportunities

The business opportunities are just as incredible. Beyond selling subscriptions to some of the new wave of games, there's a bounty of monetization, marketing, and customer engagement available. Advertise in AR, overlaying billboards or arrows that point to your closest store front, which can be interacted with by observers. Businesses can attract clients as they wander near competitor store fronts by offering one time deals. Connect to intelligent media tools to highlight in AR relevant local topics of conversations (people/place/things). The next wave of personal navigation will guide users through a 3D environment from their current location, highlighting an overlay of the path to a destination.

Art and Personal Expression

Augmented reality doesn't stop at games and businesses. With a seamless overlap of the simulated and real, a number of fascinating options open up:


Consider augmented 3D interactive programming tools. You could literally see the database and manipulate structures visually. Code logic and data flow can be augmented with a tactile user interface. With the right hardware elaborate collaborative teams will co-create augmented structures connected to massive back end databases. I like to think a future version of git may be like the rows of guns from the matrix with millions of applications streaming by, to allow serendipitous adjacent or social search.

These are just a handful of the ideas that flowed through my mind as I watched Blaise's talk. I look forward to seeing what other developers are dreaming up.