I recently spoke with Dave Elchoness of GoWeb3D who’s one of the early pioneers in the Augmented Reality (AR, but not to be confused with Analyst Relations) industry. In this above video he gives a demonstration of how information (often from the web) can be over layed on top of physical locations. Unlike Virtual Reality (like the now obscure Second Life) the barriers to entry are mobile devices, internet access, and utility can make this a reality.
Dave’s business GoWeb3D provides a data layer on top of the Dutch Layar browser (update: also see Wikitude “World Browser) which is available for some mobile platforms –iPhone is coming. This browser will allow developers to create data layers what will provide AR experiences. Users of this application can “drop” digital content such as blog posts, photos, videos, for their friends or customers who visit a specific location in real life.
[The promise of Augmented Reality is to provide existing internet content in physical context]
What types of business can benefit from Augmented Reality? Any retail or commercial entity with a physical space, any company that sells physical products, any company that does advertising in real life. Despite the promises the biggest challenges will be creating useful applications beyond the ‘cool’ factor. I’ve been using the Yelp “Monacle” feature, which is an interesting first generation –yet the data isn’t always accurate.
I’m still chalking this space as “to watch” as we should first expect growth to happen in the mobile social web first, let’s keep an eye on promising emerging technology as it quickly comes around.