Augmented Reality meets Business, but where are the games?

Augmented Reality has been an area of interest I’ve been keeping an eye on for a while now. I really liked seeing this little application from the USPS. While you can argue its “usefulness”, its great to see businesses (can you call the post office a business?) trying out this new technology. It’s one of the first attempts at a practical application I’ve seen outside of the gaming or marketing space.

Most applications of AR I’ve seen these days are taking advantage of the Flash Platform. Its great to see new technology applications being created without the need to install any new software on the end user’s system. Those interested should probably start by checking out the FLARToolKit.
Adobe has used AR to do things like hype MAX, which is cool of course. Unfortunately most of the applications has been little novelty apps used to pitch movies, sell cars and amuse television news anchors. There’s exciting things going on with mobile platforms where the camera can be combined with a GPS and a compass, but since this is a game blog, I’ll bring it back to games.
Why haven’t we seen more games start to use this new technology? The first and still best example of such a game is 2007’s The Eye of Judgement for the PS3. When I first saw this I expected a rush of new and innovative games to come along taking advantage of this new technology. Sure, Eye of Judgement was a gimmick that brought some technology to an existing genre of card games, so where is the likes of Parker Brothers bringing rich 3d animations and computerized game mechanics to Monopoly and Scrabble?
Well, maybe that’s going too far…
One of my favorite anime in recent years has been Dennō_Coil. It presented an inspiring vision of a perhaps not-so-distance future of what applications there are for “augmented reality”. Look at your wrist and see a 3d clock or bring up a full keyboard and monitor floating in virtual space in front of you. Look down, see your virtual pet dog standing by your side (just don’t let him get infected with a computer virus!) Games where your position in the real world determines your position in the virtual world. We already have computers small enough to carry with us at all times and a high speed wireless data network. Now all we need are the cool glasses.
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There are three sessions at MAX 2009 this year dealing with this area that I’m really looking forward to (in addition to the sessions on gaming I mentioned in a previous post of course!)

Who knows? Maybe the creator of the first great mainstream AR game will be in attendance…

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