Biz explores new realms for reality

CG comes off the screen and into the living room

Augmented reality, the blending of the real world with computer generated imagery, promises advances like eyewear with built-in displays that show you the name and background check for a stranger who approaches you, or warnings about drug interactions when you glance at a cold medicine.

That may sound like the stuff of sci-fi but AR — the subject of a Monday panel at the NAB Show — is getting a toehold in everyday life.

It has already hit the toy industry (with an “Avatar” card game that comes alive with 3D models from the movie when scanned with a PC’s Webcam). Proponents say they’re just getting started in the entertainment industry.

“It’s crazy how one movie, one license, can really help us to expand into so many areas,” says Total Immersion CEO Bruno Uzzan, whose company worked with Mattel on the “Avatar” games.

Advanced personal AR isn’t here yet, but in the meantime technology providers hope to work closely with content companies to incorporate it into vidgames.

“I think augmented reality gaming is something that’s going to be big,” says Chetan Damani, cofounder of acrossair. “Interfacing with the world around you is something consumers want and something developers want to start building.”

Sony, now the biggest AR proponent, will showcase it in the upcoming “EyePet” game. Players interface with an onscreen 3D pet via a PlayStation 3 EyeToy webcam, and the PlayStation Move motion controller will let players fire an in-game gun (or other object) that appears to be an extension of their hand.

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