Augmented reality has always been one of those things that I knew was going to happen and when it did, it would be big. Recently, I’ve instead been really wondering if it’s going to be big or if it’s just going to sneak up on us and suddenly be the way we all do things. The first video in that BBC link is actually pretty good at explaining the idea while keeping it grounded enough to understand what the first apps are likely to look like.

As it is, more than half my friends (as well as me) walk around with location-aware phones that give them location-specific information when they ask for it. For the most part it’s limited to finding things which are near you like gas stations, bus stops, food, driving directions, etc., but there’s no reason for that.

The only thing which seems to be missing is figuring out which direction the phone is pointed (being solved by digital compasses in many phones) and possibly image recognition. Microsoft’s project Natal makes me think that people are going to at least have the balls to try and tackles some of the real-time image recognition stuff.

I’m not quite sure where it’s going, but it’s going fast and I’m excited even if it seems like my Palm Pre may not be the first platform for this stuff. I still can’t believe they re-made the same “all apps are just going to be web pages” mistake that Apple did when they first introduced the iPhone.

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