The state of Augmented Reality and its use in Airsoft

Google just shipped the first Glass units to developers: big step towards usable augmented reality applications!

We are experimenting with AR since 2010 when we integrated BattleTac with Layar.

Unfortunately the current AR technologies are nothing more than toys: I think this is the main cause of the failure of AR in the smartphone world.

The problem is that if we want to augment the visual reality then it is not enough to just display extra information on top of what the user sees, but we have to modify the visual content. So the display must be capable to modify the visual input on the whole field of view. Smartphones can augment the view of the camera, but your eyes are a lot better than the camera so you do not want to see through the camera.

That is where the goggles come in. Recon Instruments already ships HUD (Heads Up Display) goggles and now Google Glass is here. There is no difference, both goggles are just HUDs and we have to design the display system accordingly.

And the same is true when using your smartphone as a HUD: you want to use your eyes to see the reality and use the HUD to display extra information. What you do not need is the video stream from the camera.

So instead of a Layar-like camera-based display system we plan to implement a HUD which is not so fancy but more usable. Something like this:

Planned functionality

Not displaying the camera image allows us to widen the field of view and display distance information in an easily readable way: You do not need to read numbers to know the approximate distance of a symbol. Additionally, this display works even if you use your phone in the normal, convenient position when the camera sees just the ground.

And we have to wait for the next generation of AR goggles in the hope that they will be real AR goggles so Augmented Reality will be really reality, not just a special effect: