Something fascinating happened during a football game between the Bengals and Ravens in 1998. It seemed a little gimmicky at the time, but now it is indispensable: The yellow first-down line that automatically "paints" on your TV screen premiered during this game, providing most of us with our first glimpse of live augmented reality.
Football changed forever.
Today we take it for granted that our reality can be enhanced by technology. From new emerging 5D rides at amusement parks to "heads up" displays in modern airplane cockpits and video games, augmented reality is here to stay. Poets, naturalists, and others who like their "living" pure and untouched by modern life: You are just going to have to get used to it.
Now that we have the leaked information from Google that the company is preparing to release new camera-loaded, data-processing eyeglasses, we are all preparing for what could be a major advance in the role technology plays in our personal lives. What the smartphone did for human communications and rapid information access, the so-called "Google Goggles" just might do for much of the remainder of the human experience.
Augmented reality is not a Web page or a search engine. It is human experience enhanced by all types of technologies that supplement sounds, sights, smells, motion, and interaction to improve our experience. This is not new, but that doesn't mean that Google's sideways announcement won't be a game changer. The wireless phone didn't just remove the wire -- it unleashed an entirely new path for innovation that is still playing out today.
So imagine, if you will, life behind the Google Goggles. As you walk along an urban boulevard, the glasses are using tiny gyroscopes to track your position so that a map can be overlaid on the display -- creating a kind of annotated live view. Someone who looks vaguely familiar starts to approach you, you immediately signal the glasses by nodding and the face recognition system places a little bubble over the head of the ever-closer pedestrian, providing name, age, education level, job, marital status... You get the picture.