The next big thing…

Augmented reality. Seeing the world with the aid of annotated computer display has long been a mainstay of science fiction. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator wouldn't have been such an efficient killing machine without this facility.


Augmented reality. Seeing the world with the aid of annotated computer display has long been a mainstay of science fiction. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator wouldn’t have been such an efficient killing machine without this facility.

Seeing the world with the aid of an annotated computer display has long been a mainstay of science fiction. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator wouldn’t have been such an efficient killing machine without this facility (and the film may have been a tad slower-paced had the robotic sociopath needed to refer to a guide book).

But now the vision of mixing the real world with computer-generated data is finally here. Recently, an application was launched on the iPhone that allows you to receive visual directions to the closest underground station simply by holding up your handset.

Meanwhile, Japanese printer company Brother hopes to make retinal imaging display technology commercially available sometime next year. This is where a screen is placed in front of the eye and projects light onto the retina at high speed to create images.

Uses for augmented reality through retinal displays could include cooking without taking your eyes off the stove to use a recipe book, or driving directions appearing in front of your eyes while you’re focusing on the road.

Even further into the future, Professor Babak Parviz of the University of Washington is developing augmented  reality for contact lenses. Eventually, this technology may be able to link up to your mobile phone and display subtitles in your vision when hearing a foreign language.

It seems the existence of a future race of cyborgs might not be that far-fetched after all.

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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