The 10 Coolest Things Happening With Augmented Reality Right Now


Facebook is eyeing augmented reality.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook was exploring augmented reality at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment City Summit this week in San Francisco, TechCrunch reported.

“Yeah,” he immediately replied when asked if augmented reality was a possibility, following up that “it’s a bit farther out.”

Virtual reality’s potential has been well-documented thanks to the creation of technology like the Oculus VR headset. But few people are familiar with what augmented reality is and how it is being used.

Augmented reality layers virtual elements on top of the real world, whereas virtual reality completely shuts off the world around you to immerse you in a virtual world. What makes augmented reality so cool is that it inserts virtual, 3D images into your physical space.

Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, the HoloLens, lets a roboarmy invade your living room. It debuts next year.

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You may be fully aware on some level that the scary robot bugs crawling on your couch aren’t real, but they sure look real. The HoloLens can do some pretty incredible things, from turning your hand into a laser gun to layering virtual elements such as the time, date, and weather on top of your physical environment. But the early version launching next year comes with a hefty price of $3,000.

Disney created an app that allows children to draw a 3D character in real time.

The app captures a drawing and projects it into a 3D image. It may not be as high-tech as most augmented reality technology, but its more accessible than a pricey headset and lets children see how their drawing would look in 3D as they are working on it.

People who wear castAR glasses can do anything from attacking giant robots to pulling up YouTube videos midair.

castAR was successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter last year and early backers are just starting to receive their glasses. The company is also working on using augmented reality to create shared interfaces so people can play and work together.

Microsoft’s HoloLens can also be used to teach anatomy to medical students.

“By creating simulations with the HoloLens that lets [medical students] have an experience where they can fail, that would be the best way to learn because we don’t allow people to fail too much in real medicine,” Dr. Neil Mehta said in Microsoft’s video about the HoloLens.

UCLA created an augmented reality sandbox that lets you create erupting volcanoes, mountains, rivers and canyons.

An Xbox Kinect sensor detects and processes any shape made in the sandbox and projects it as a color-coded contour map, the UCLA newsroom reports. Its mobile and can be set up in any classroom for undergraduate science courses.

Magic Leap has been hush about showing off their technology, but it’ll let you do anything from shooting robots to pulling your email up out of thin air.

Magic Leap is a Florida-based augmented reality company that Google tech boss Sundar Pinchai sits on the board of (Google also led a $500 million round of fund raising for them).

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