Transparent Screens Means That “The future is now-ish!”

There seems to be a lot of attention given recently to transparent displays – basically, monitors that you can (some what) see-through.  Despite what CSI:Miami would have use believe, they aren’t here yet – but close.  Seems that LG is in the lead with 47″ 1080 HD touch screens that you can see through.  The prediction is that these screens will take augmented reality to a new level.  This quote from an article on caught my eye:

In ten years, we may no longer have cell phones in our pockets, they will be built into our glasses and perhaps even contact lenses.

Sounds familiar to me :) But it looks like we are going to see augmented reality sooner rather than later – so I am going to start saving up for the iPhone 10 now….

Will We Go To The Matrix, Or Will The Matrix Come To Us?

Two new patent applications by Apple reveal the possibility that future iPhones will actually record “video or photos and use the information to render an object or location in 3D.” In other words, three-dimensional recording of places and objects. Once you can start recording places and objects on an Internet-enabled device, there will be virtually no barriers between the physical and virtual.  These recordings could be mashed together with digital information, and then ported out to any device – from the iPhone itself to a heads-up display on a car windshield or even to a special pair of virtual reality glasses.  Imagine what could happen if cars start coming equipped with this recording method?  Or think about what student reports on field trips would be like if they had this on an Internet-enabled device?

The possibilities are endless.  Neil Hughes of AppleInsider had this thought: “If enabled on millions of devices, this sort of 3D mapping could be uploaded over the Internet and then shared with other users, allowing a sort of “hive mind” functionality in generating comprehensive and up-to-date real-world renderings.”

So, will we go to the matrix, or will the matrix come to us?

HP Lets You Add Any Site to Augmented Reality

Thanks in no small part to the iPhone 3GS, Augmented Reality is starting to grow in leaps and bounds.  Google and others are also helping this growth in many ways.  As I have blogged about in past posts (and many others around the web have also mentioned), the lines between the online world and the offline world are blurring.  Enter into this mix Gloe from HP.

Gloe is a new service that, among other things, allows you to connect any website to a particular location in real life.  When you are at a physical site, your mobile device can then pull up websites that were voted most relevant for that location.  Of course, all of the regular “social” buzz-functions are there – tagging, FaceBook connections, etc. Gloe is still pretty new in some areas, but as this article on ReadWriteWeb points out, even if some function doesn’t work that great – at least the idea behind the function is really interesting.

We may have to wait a good ten years before any educational site or LMS catches on to this, but I like the possibilities of using this for education. I am sure there are more than a few EduPunks that are already using this (if you know of some, please post in the comments).  I love thinking about how one could transfer learning from a desk at home to a mobile device in the real world.  Maybe you could send your students on a scavenger hunt for a place in your city that best relates to your topic, and then they use a mobile blog app to complete an assignment? Or maybe they have to search the tags in the city and find something that relates to the week’s topic? Art students could go paint somewhere, snap a photo of the picture, upload it to a blog, and then tag that blog post to the location.  Humanities students could interview people or take surveys, then post the results online, and then connect the results page to the location where they collected it.  Students could begin connecting research results to locations and maybe even map differences between neighborhoods.

Many possibilities… depending on where the technology takes us.

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.