Is Augmented Reality Here?

I’m not sure why I am so interested in augmented reality.  I guess it seems more practical and immanent that virtual reality.  Maybe I was really, really scared by The Matrix and I don’t want to be enslaved by the machines.  Maybe it has been a slow week in EdTech news.  After all – is FaceBook buying FriendFeed all that big of a shock?

But the thought of a way to have your portable computing device actually interact not only with the World Wide Web, but also the actual world around you just seems so.. incredible.  But how close are we to making augmented reality a true reality in our lives?

Vuzix is working on a product that might just do that: the Wrap 920AV.   The 920AV is a pair of sunglasses that have a see-thru screen that allows you to watch a display from your iPhone and still see the world around you through the same display.  It even mentions on the page that the glasses are designed for augmented reality. Click on the accessories tab for some other cool options, like a motion sensor that tracks your head movements, and cameras that attach to the top of the glasses.

This is the kind of thing I was thinking of when I first blogged on iPhones and augmented reality.  Just think:  with these glasses you don’t have to have to hold the iPhone like in the video from that post – the metro map is just displayed on your glasses in front of you.  What if you mix this with Sixth Sense technology?  What if you just saw your iPhone display floating in front of you, and moved your hands to interact with the apps (kind of like a portable version of the computers in Minority Report)?

Talk about true mobile learning.  You know those audio tours you can rent at tour spots like Alcatrazz – the ones that talk you through the attractions?  Those can now make the jump from audio to visual – adding historical re-enactments, or showing you what lies behind the walls that they don’t want to tear down.

I’m sure this kind of thing will be expensive at first, and I really hope they don’t hype just watching movies on these things.  What I hope is that Apple catches a vision for this and makes it look really cool so that everyone will want it.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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