Cyberpunk Review » Augmented Reality: Looking at the world through bionic eyes… darkly.

October 11, 2009

Augmented Reality: Looking at the world through bionic eyes… darkly.

Source: Wired’s Beyond the Beyond, elsewhere as indicated.

Augmented Reality HUD (from How Stuff Works)

Imagine being able to look at something or someone and having instant access to its information right in your eyes. This is the basic idea behind Augmented Reality: Using computerized information over reality.
NOTE: Click the pic for more information on Augmented reality on

For the past five months Bruce Sterling has been blogging about the emerging augmented reality technology. With the first story being about an AR geisha, there has been a rapid progression of the technology, and with it the proliferation of applications for portables that are making AR more probable than VR.

Here’s an demo of an AR zombie blast-a-thon game.

We’re not just playing games here. Browse through the 12 pages of Augmented Reality articles from BtB and you’ll see more than just zombie blasters. There are city guides, movies, presentations, world maps, … even T-shirts are getting into the AR craze. All are currently… or soon will be… available for your portable devices.

But, they’re currently working on AR without the need for portables.


In the eyes of the beholder…

Bionic contacts for AR

In the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character sees the world with data superimposed on his visual field—virtual captions that enhance the cyborg’s scan of a scene. In stories by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge, characters rely on electronic contact lenses, rather than smartphones or brain implants, for seamless access to information that appears right before their eyes.

Source: IEEE Spectrum Work is currently underway to create contact lenses that can beam information AR-style directly onto the retina. The circuits will be small and/or transparent enough to not interfere with normal vision, while radio frequency waves will provide power.

These lenses don’t need to be very complex to be useful. Even a lens with a single pixel could aid people with impaired hearing or be incorporated as an indicator into computer games. With more colors and resolution, the repertoire could be expanded to include displaying text, translating speech into captions in real time, or offering visual cues from a navigation system. With basic image processing and Internet access, a contact-lens display could unlock whole new worlds of visual information, unfettered by the constraints of a physical display.

A single LED is only the beginning. In 5-10 years, they are looking to incorporate bio sensors into the lenses, with possible full AR capabilities by then.


Somehow, AR shooting with an iPhone doesn’t quite compare to using an AK-47.

Is AR the future, or is it another VR? Before you go googling for the latest AR development system or learning how to program in ARML, you might want to refresh your memory banks regarding the “potential” that virtual reality (VR) had in the 90s, especially while you read stuff like this:

“First, Mobile AR is going to be bigger than the web. Second, it is going to affect nearly every industry and aspect of life. Third, the emerging sector needs aggressive investment with long term returns. Get rich quick start ups in this space will blow through money and ultimately fail. We need smart VCs to jump in now and do it right. Fourth, AR has the potential to create a few hundred thousand jobs and entirely new professions. You want to kick start the economy or relive the golden days of 1990s innovation? Mobile AR is it.

Don’t be misguided by the gimmicky marketing applications now. Look ahead, and pay attention to what the visionaries are talking about right now. Find the right idea, help build the team, fund them, and then sit back and watch the world change. Also, AR has long term implications for smart cities, green tech, education, entertainment, and global industry. This is serious business, but it has to be done right. I’m more than happy to talk to any venture capitalist, angel investor, or company executive that wants to get a handle on what is out there, what is coming, and what the potential is. Understanding these is the first step to leveraging them for a competitive edge and building a new industry. Lastly, AR is not the same as last decade’s VR.”

Not the same? We’ll see about that, once the consumers have had their say…


October 12, 2009

William said:

Hello guys,
I just came across this blog and have never heard of ‘cyberpunk’ before but am really intrigued. Could you recommend any cult films/books/shows I could see or read to give me a bit of an introduction into the whole concept and culture?

creamneuron said:

You will find here a very good and big list of movies and books.

nice ones are:
- blade runner
- ghost in the shell
- nirvana
- johny mnemoic (mnemonic?)
- and so on…. =)

look in the movie section, its with votes. there are a lot more japanese movies, but they are somewhat…verry japanese =)
(”tetsuo - the iron man” to only name one =)

Chris said:

Great Article! Personally, i think it will be a colorful mix: VR and AR are technologies with much potential and both will change our everyday life a lot.

@Wiliam: Sokrates was one of the darkest Shadowrunner, ever! ;) said:

it needs to be unobtrusive and informative, yet i have a hard time figuring out what kind of info is needed via a HMD that one cant access via a screen in ones pocket.

the only way i can really see it be used is if its running 24/7 and can bring up all kinds of info from online depending on what your looking at.

look at a car, and you could potentially get reviews, prices and similar. look at a food product in a shelf and get the latest health and other info about it.

but right now it can only act as a kind of bookmark for places on your area, and that can be just as well served with a gps string to google maps or other services.

October 13, 2009

Anonymous said:

Cool, I love your blog, especially the first article, about augmented vision something…Very James Bond!One day possible and available for everyone?

I looove it too, this so cool!I went to check the website you giving before, real enjoy it.

October 14, 2009

William said:

Thanks creamneuron, I’m going to look all those up now!

Mr No 1 said:

Anyone read Gibson’s Virtual Light? =)

October 16, 2009

ZikZak said:

Spook Country from the same author is exactky about this topic and geotagging.

BTW, I think that the next portable device from Nintendo will most likely use this for vdeogames. The current DSi looks like a test machine (the company always did that for previous machines).
Last rumors says that the next handheld from Nintendo will use the same nvidia’s chip.

October 19, 2009

exitplanetdust said:

Read Halting State.

October 23, 2009

rainbow rowton said:

Will we be able to scan peoples’ power levels with this device?

November 7, 2009

Anonymous said:

I wonder if it’d be possible to construct a pair of AR goggles out of a couple of cheap digital cameras and an arduino?

December 3, 2009

Anonymous said:

Soon all the gamers will run around outdoors using an array of weapons, tools, object and whatever on eachother and fictional monsters and things and whatever. Have huge areas and cities dedicated to the games. Like maybe a ghost town with cemetary and everything intact where people can come together and play games like “zombie invasion” and “space invaders” (alien invasion) and whatever else. So many other applications too. For instance for architects to see what their buildings will look like and oh, just infinite infinite applications.

Anonymous said:

Also a whole new type of interactive movies and Journeys and Museums. Though maybe the nerd would become even more introvert, never ever going up from bed again? :D

December 30, 2009

Leonard Kevin Moberg said:

Augmented Reality, I will be taking back you don’t understand what this is all about!

Sorry, I have bin up all night but I will be taking Augmented Reality Technology, back this is not a toy and everyone does not understand that I used it in Ultra Violet, with my Wife, and that Mission, there were parts in the movie that were taken-out, how the hell do we keep you safe if you don’t show the Mission’s, this is one reason for taking back Augmented Reality Technology.

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