Augmented reality: It's not science fiction anymore

Everyday computing is on the brink of taking a huge leap into what feels like science fiction with the introduction of augmented reality.

Unless you're a gamer or someone who does a lot of immersive job training — think military pilots — augmented reality (AR) probably hasn't been on your radar. Heck, reality TV might just be more reality than you can handle.

But what if, by simply wearing a small item of apparel like glasses, you could accomplish many of your necessary tasks in life — getting directions, sending an email, setting your home alarm — by just typing in the air? What if, by simple sensors and cameras installed unassumingly in an environment, you could use anything — like a pizza box or banana — as a computing or communication device?

It's no longer a "what if" — welcome to the convenience of interacting with the "Internet of things."

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These scenarios, and many more, are our future with AR. According to CNET, augmented reality, recently brought to consumers' attention with the media coverage of Google Glass, will be served up with wearable computing devices, perhaps a watch or a badge on a shirt, that allow a user to process things by making subtle hand motions in the "free space" in front of them. A virtual image can be conjured up, not unlike a holograph, and computing can be done on that image.

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This new way of interacting, says Meron Gribetz of AR digital eyeglass developer Meta, is the "keyboard and mouse of the future."

Another AR startup, Atheer, is working to push users' interaction outside portable devices. Their plan has been to bridge smartphones with AR for bigger, better interface. Atheer's CEO, Sulieman Itani, enthused to CNET about the possibility of being able to leave a virtual message for a friend in a restaurant — a message that only the friend could see by using their AR device.

Although still bleeding edge, the use of AR is likely to blossom by the year 2020, according to CNET. Developers are collaborating to come up with a set of universal gestures and interfaces so users can adopt readily. Stay tuned.

RELATED: Wearable tech will drive the rise of the 'human cloud’ of personal data, says Rackspace study

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