Augmented Reality seems to be a concept in vogue lately as written about here and here. I’m not entirely sold on the concept though. It’s not really augmented ‘reality’ afterall, it’s just a video overlay for your iphone or webcam. Using some video goggles or retinal projector might help with the immersion, but for me there would still be too many layers between me and the data. One way to solve this would be to use a sense besides sight to communicate the relevant information.
This software program, The vOICe, converts images into audio signals that can be “seen” with your ears. The program uses pitch to indicate the vertical position of the points of the image and volume to indicate the brightness of the points. It takes 1 second to scan left to right across the image. The result sounds like gibberish, but the concept is that you can learn to interpret these patterns of sound as images in your mind.
This is generally meant for blind people to use in conjunction with a video camera whilst walking about, but I feel that with some refinement and great amounts of practice sighted people should be able to use this to augment their reality without having to hold anything up in front of their face.
It might even be used in a virtual reality application that doesn’t use nausea-inducing goggles, and could provide a 360 degree sensory experience. It could be like sonar and let us see in way our eyes never could.