Right now, augmented reality is one of those "oh, cool" technologies that you may have used once or twice for its "wow" factor, but for most of us, it hasn't really made its way into our daily lives. Helping to change that, though, is one of two Augmented World Expos. There is a smaller New York version, and a big one is held in a few months in Santa Clara, Calif.
"Augmented reality, in simple terms, is about overlaying computer graphics on the real world, but it's so much more than that," says Ori Inbar of Augmented World Expo. "It's really about making the world more interactive through a digital layer that allows us to communicate with things around us."
Maybe you've seen ads in magazines or on movie posters that'll pop out at you when you point your mobile device or webcam at them. Right now, AR is primarily designed to work with 2-D images, but companies like Metaio are trying to make everything in our 3-D world a trigger for this technology.
"When you have a dynamic object like a car, a lot of round edges, really shiny, doesn't really play nicely with a monocular camera view, to conquer that challenge, what we do is, we break down the car into basically its core edges," says Trak Lord of Metaio. "And it doesn't have to just be a car. We can do it with basically any object. And since the camera is looking for the edges of the object, it can actually recognize it, track it."
While right now, when you think of augmented reality, you probably think of video games or advertising, there are some practical solutions on the horizon.
Sight Augmented works with wearables to help augment the real world and make it more visible for people with vision problems.
"The augmented side or section of the display is where they're actually recognizing the text," says Bernhard Schneider of Pear Enterprises. "So we can adjust the magnification range of the text itself, plus add more contrast."
Augmented reality is also finding uses everywhere from classrooms to helping technicians find and repair problems on things like cars or computers.