New Tools Update: Augmented Reality Going Mainstream?

I've written about how I think augmented reality could be the Next Big Thing in the development of the web, and it looks like augmented reality tech is finally starting to really catch people's attention. The front page stories in Wired and ReadWriteWeb over the last few days took in-depth looks at where this technology is going. Both articles are well worth the read. Here's an excerpt from the ReadWriteWeb piece, which looks at some of the hurdles to widespread adoption of AR:

"The internet smeared all over everything." An "enchanted window" that turns contextual information hidden all around us inside out. A platform that will be bigger than the Web. Those are the kinds of phrases being used to describe the future of what's called Augmented Reality (AR), by specialists developing the technology to enable it. Big questions remain unanswered, though, about the viability of what could be a radical next step in humanity's use of computers.

The article raises some good points, but I think that the explosive potential of this research far outweighs some of the challenges, many of which are technology-based. The iPhone will begin supporting early AR apps next month, and given Moore's law and the imminent arrival of 4G data networks, I think the widespread use of augmented reality on a range of mobile devices is, at the most, two or three years off.

Finally, just for kicks, check out this novel use of AR by the District 9 team (and if you haven't seen the movie, do yourself a favor and go check it out - the actual film is almost as good as the marketing for it).  

If you have a webcam and a printer, you can try this out for yourself here.