Why People Get Excited About Augmented Reality

Really, Why do people get excited about augmented reality ?

I was stumped by this question in an interview for the NY Times and my first reaction was: duh! ’cause it’s friggin’ awesome!

But when you think about it, people get excited about Augmented Reality because…because they never thought it’d actually become possible…

Science Fiction has been a major part of our culture for generations and is ingrained in our belief system. Even non Sci-Fi geeks, are familiar with concepts such as teleporting, time travel, or X-ray vision.

We were led to believe these things are “Fiction” and impossible in real life.

Well, up until augmented reality has demonstrated otherwise.


Reducing business travel is not only good for the environment; it’s also great for humans. However teleconferencing systems haven’t been able to reproduce the immediacy and intimacy of multiple people actually occupying the same room.

With AR – realtime holograms are possible and teleporting is a snap.

Just like when MR. Rabbit Visits Barcelona in Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End:

IN DOWNTOWN BARCELONA, three days later:
The rabbit hopped onto the unoccupied wicker chair and thence to the middle of the table, between the teacups and the condiments. It tipped its hat forst at Alfred Vaz and then at Gunberk Braun and Keiko Mitsuri. “Have I got a deal for you!” it said. Altogether, it was an unremarkable example of its type.

Alfred reached out and swiped his hand through the image, just to emphasize his own substance. “We’re the ones with the deal”….

Braun was as ephemeral as the rabbit, but he projected a dour earnestness that was quite consistent with his real personality.

…or as illustrated perfectly in this tongue and cheek video:

And here is a real demo by The Augmented Environments Lab at Georgia Tech:

Time Travel


OK, we can’t REALLY time travel with AR, but we can certainly see how things looked like in the past, or places will look like in the future.  We can experience that reality around us from a first person view.

Larry Niven described such a fascinating scene in Dream Park back in 1981:

“Please stay on the green path,” the soft, well-modulated male voice requested. “What green-” Tony started to say. But a glowing green aisle ten feet across appearred in the middle of the street.
“We need strong magic to do what we do today,” the voice continued. “We are going to visit the old Los Angeles that disappeared in May of 1985. As long as you stay on the path, you should be perfectly safe.”
…”This is the Los Angeles of 2051″ the voice continued, “but only a few hundred feet from here begins another world, one seldom seen by human eyes.”
A banner blocked Wileshir Boulevard. Thegreen path humped and carried them over it. Beyond lay ruin. Buildings balanced precariously on rotted and twisted beams, The were old, of archaic styles, and seawater lapped at their foundations.
Ollie nudged Gwen, his face aglow. “Will you look at that?” It was a flooded parking lot, ancient automibiles half covered with water. “That looks like a Mercedes. Did you ever see what they looked like before they merged with Toyota?”

Here is a (tiny) contemporary proof that it’s not only possible in sci-fi books:

…or a more elaborate project to revive Pompei

X-Ray Vision

Every kid (born after 1950) knows what X-Ray vision is, right?

Everyone wants it, but only Superman actually has it.

Want to bet it’s possible for anyone in reality?

Well, thanks to augmented reality, Ben Avery from The Wearable Computer Lab can can give it to you:

For the whole story see our post on X-ray vision.

So what have we learned?

Augmented reality can make our wildest sci-fi dreams come true.

What sci-fi dreams do you want to experience in reality?

…And don’t forget, my friends – never stop dreaming!

5 Responses

  1. […] Why People Get Excited About Augmented Reality « Games Alfresco Some more examples of what could be possible one day with augmented reality. (tags: augmented_reality) […]

  2. If you can dream it, you can make it real. Well not everything, but its certainly a nice place to start. As a sci-fi writer, I loved the post, and its also why I’m infatuated with augmented reality. Because its sci-fi turned real.

  3. Brilliant post.
    Augmented Reality is something that has always excited me because it can lead to such a massive empowering of humans, leading to all sorts of scifi possibilitys….
    ..but, unlike Warp Drive, or Teleporting, or most scifi concepts AR…even the absolute perfect version of AR….is nothing more then a refineing of current technology.
    No massive physics leaps are required. No exotic mater.
    Its just a combination of existing tech refined :)

    I don’t think we have even begun to comprehend AR’s impact on society.

  4. […] Games Alfresco, Ori Inbar – Why People Get Excited About Augmented Reality   […]

  5. […] Augmented Reality Reading List Earlier this month, Ori Inbar posted on Games Alfresco about why people get excited about augmented reality.  Ori mentions Vernor […]

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