I’m starting to get this 3D world

If I’m honest I was struggling to see the point of 3D. I understand how other people might get excited, young kids, gaming geeks etc, but on a personal level I just didn’t get that excited. I often wonder how I can be eternally the wrong target market. However last week I was struck by two 3D initiatives that caught my attention.

First up, I saw Avatar. I went into the cinema feeling a bit cynical, I felt like a bit of a fool sat in the cinema with lots of other people, all wearing silly glasses. How good can 3D be anyway?

It’s really good! Ok, the story line is a little cheesy but the visuals are incredible. So incredible that I got vertigo. The depth of field is truly amazing, it’s a mind blowing cinematic experience and totally immersive. The power of 3D worked on me. If film makers can re-produce those filmic qualities but with a truly brilliant story line and script, then I think the future of cinema is definitely heading towards 3D.

The second 3D gimmick that unexpectedly grabbed my attention is adidas’ latest augmented reality trainer.  In February adidas will launch five new trainers that will activate a virtual world through augmented reality.  All users have to do is go up to the adidas site and hold up their trainer, which has a code embedded in its tongue, in front of their computer webcam. A virtual world then pops out in front of them and they can navigate it using their trainer as a controller. It’s a marketing gimmick, but a pretty cool one, and if I had a choice between a trainer with it or without, I would probably opt for the marketing gimmick one. It’s really cool!

So there you have it – I might be a little late to catch on but I think I’m getting there. It would be cool to see what more brands can do with 3D when they purposefully target the female adult demographic. I’m a cynic turned enthusiast!

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Augmented Reality a useful addition to the world around us

It’s hard to escape all the rage surrounding Augmented Reality (AR) applications at the moment, what with remarkable software like Twittaround and Layar attracting a lot of attention through their ability to interact with the world around us. That, and the fact that these applications can make every one of us feel like the Terminator with a special ability to literally ’scan’ information out of people and places within our field of vision.

Since the AR hype started, more and more augmented reality applications have been popping up but as with all technological developments, some people are responding with scepticism, and rightly so.

Let me take a step back and take a look at what Augmented Reality actually is. The basic concept is pretty straightforward. Whereas virtual reality immerses you in a completely different reality, augmented reality merely adds to the world around you.

According to tech-faq.com: “Augmented reality is one of the newest innovations in the electronics industry. It superimposes graphics, audio and other sense enhancements from computer screens onto real time environments.”

It seems the biggest issue surrounding AR is taking it from a short term gimmick and in turn shaping it into something really useful and insightful for the longer term. Take a look at the ‘Nearest Tube’ application which AcrossAir have introduced. The 3D application overlays a tube map on a live feed from your phones camera to help users quickly find the nearest underground station no matter where they are. Incredible, I am sure you will agree! Once loaded, the application allows for all 13 lines of the London underground to be displayed in coloured arrows. By simply tilting the phone upwards, you will see the nearest stations, what direction they are in relation to your location, how many kilometres and miles away they are and what tube lines they are on.

It’s true to say that AR will have to live up to its futuristic expectations to appeal to people beyond hard-core technology geeks. But my general feeling is that if the ‘Nearest Tube’ application is a taster of things to come, then we’ll certainly see a lot more creative and useful ideas, being delivered through AR over the coming months.