When James Theophane Jr. was asked by his employer Lost Boys, an interactive marketing firm in the UK, to come up with a Christmas card, he thought of the 50 or so mobile phones discarded after the agency went through a company-wide upgrade.
That inspired the constructions of a gigantic mobile, with each phone programmed by computer to sound a single tone that together formed a choral arrangement. The interactive sculpture hoisted at the entrance of the Brick Lane studio can be enjoyed by anyone visiting the live stream and tapping out his/her own jingle on the onscreen keyboard.
Augmented reality, or AR. If you don’t know of it, you should. If you haven’t used it yet, you will. What used to dwell in the realm of science fiction and extreme geekdom is finding practical application in all kinds of areas, including marketing, packaging, exhibits, sales demonstrations, technical training, maps, architecture and entertainment. The possibilities are just beginning to be recognized. Augmented reality lets the user see the world around him with superimposed computer graphics that appear in 3-D animation, visible from every angle and following the sight-path of the viewer. In its simplest version, the user can print out a high-contrast black-and-white pattern of squares and point it at a computer webcam. The webcam reads it like a laser bar code and sends a fully formed image back that appears to come alive right on the paper in the user’s hand.