What it is: Augmented reality is about viewing reality through a screen that displays additional information about what you’re looking at.
Apple recently acquired a company called Metaio, which focused on augmented reality. The clumsy way to use augmented reality is to force someone to wear a virtual reality headset to see altered versions of reality. The much simpler way to use augmented reality is to allow users to point a smartphone or tablet camera at an item and then see, on the screen, the augmented reality image. By removing the need to wear a virtual reality headset, smartphone and tablet augmented reality solutions allow the user to see augmented reality images when they want without the awkwardness of wearing a cumbersome virtual reality headset at all times.
One interesting product that Metaio used to offer was called Metaio Creator, which lets you create augmented reality images without any programming whatsoever. The idea is that you can drag and drop images, video, and audio over an image so it appears whenever a user views that particular item. In the YouTube video below, you can see how Ferrari used Metaio Creator to let users point at a Ferrari and change its color, view its internal workings, or change the wheel rims.
Such augmented reality tools can be particularly handy for stores. Imagine trying on clothes but seeing how that same outfit might look on you in different colors. Use augmented reality to go sight-seeing and point at an interesting landmark to see additional information about that item. Museums could use augmented reality to allow visitors to learn more about each exhibit. By making augmented reality easy to create, Metaio Creator brings the power of augmented reality to the masses.
Of course, you can’t get Mataio Creator any more since Apple bought the company and Metaio shut down their web site. However, this does show you what Apple will likely introduce sometime in the near future. By allowing anyone to easily create augmented reality images of their own, Apple will likely make augmented reality common for everyone to share. Augmented reality is coming to a smartphone and tablet soon. Just wait a few years and you’ll see it working right before your eyes.