Friday, March 6, 2009

Augmented Reality

Last night a friend came over for dinner. She's kind of a computer nerd, which I really admire because I know so little about computers and the endless possibilities they contain.

After a couple bottles of wine, I was in the mood to do a little "show and tell" (an absolutely humiliating tendency I have when drunk that is akin to a toddler's showing all their toys to you). I brought out my stereoscope- an 1840s invention by which one may view parallel photographs as 3D- and my friend was pretty impressed.

Then came her turn to show and tell- and hers was fancy!

She introduced me to this thing called "Augmented Reality." Honestly, it's a little scary. Basically, we went to GE's website and printed out a symbol associated with their new Smart Grid plan.

After updating some much needed new software to my MacBook, GE's site was able to open my computer's video camera and, after a disclaimer that said we might be recorded (holy big brother!), we held up the printed symbol which, when recognized by the site, set off a 3D graphic image of a smart grid. So, in the video projected in front of you (I'm really bad at describing this) it appears as though you are holding a mini-smart grid image.

And when you blow into the microphone, the wind turbines spin. Crazy.

I think what struck me the most about this whole experience is how seeped in advertising it is. I am now much more acquainted with GE than ever before because I have engaged with their freaky website special.
And they might have recorded it.

In the future, says my friend, our phones will have the same recognition systems that, when passing by a restaurant, will cause a 3D pop-up of the specials du jour! Complete with images and everything!

Maybe I'm just a rube, but I'd rather just put dusty old pictures in my stereoscope.

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