The lines between artificial and natural are blurring at alarming rates today. The limits on what may be possible in the future are expanding with each new technological breakthrough and scientific discovery. Two of these amazing breakthroughs are augmented reality and 3D printers.
Augmented reality is technology that overlays digital data on a real-time view of the world. The real world and cyberspace is integrated seamlessly using this technology. Augmented reality allows users to learn more about the buildings, people, and things around them in the real world, or seeing alternative views of their world.
For example, with integrated vision recognition, currently being developed by Google Goggles, information will be able to be overlaid on people or products. With better facial recognition, links to a person’s Facebook account, personal website, or Twitter Feed could float above their head using this integrated vision recognition technology.
Another augmented reality technology currently in production is Lego’s kiosk system. This system uses cameras and screens to allow customers to hold up a box of legos in front of a “mirror,” and see what model the customer can build with the toy inside the box. This mirror displays the customer’s face, and the box with a 3D view of the toy that moves in real time with the customer’s movement of the box.
Augmented reality development is moving forward quickly. In the future, it is possible that augmented reality systems could even overlay data on a customer’s view of the world utilizing glasses or contacts.
3D printers create real, solid objects from digital data. Imagine a future where tangible goods can be delivered to a customer’s home over the Internet. This is the direction in which 3D printing is heading.
Currently 3D printing technology can create real objects by building up layers of various materials using digital data as a pattern. First invented in 1984, many new technologies have been created, allowing objects of different materials to be produced using data.
A growing range of personal 3D printing technologies are also available on the market. Although expensive, these printing devices are breakthroughs–this technology is becoming available to the general public.
The majority of current 3D printers are not used to create final customer products, however. Most of these printers create prototypes, moulds, or mould masters that allow easy production of the final item. However, there are a few companies that use 3D printing to manufacture final products. This is now called direct digital manufacturing. Companies are creating lighting, furniture, jewelry, and even customizable sunglasses using 3D printing.
The world seen in science fiction movies seems more likely than ever. Augmented reality development is making leaps and bounds and 3D printers are becoming smarter and more readily accessible. These two new technologies together may just create a world beyond fiction’s wildest dreams.