Going to Extreme Measures

Going to Extreme Measures

By Steven Barrie-Anthony, Times Staff Writer

Just like TiVo enables us to time-shift the way we view television, augmented reality devices change the way we interact with physical space. "We get these moments in real life, walking down the sidewalk, going to a movie, where you can actually pull out select data information that otherwise in an analog world wouldn't be available to you," said Goetz of Wired magazine. "You might have a [global positioning system] built into your pair of glasses, say, so it looks like you're just looking through glasses but you're actually getting a data feed. And there will be different levels of filtering that you can select."

Augmented reality "is going to happen hugely," says Saul Griffith, a partner at Squid Labs in Emeryville, Calif. "Especially now that a lot of electronic devices are going mobile, information can follow you around."

Squid Labs is at work on a portable computer screen with a digital video camera on the reverse side. Hold it up to the world and it looks like a transparent pane of glass. But click on certain objects and view digital information transposed onto the world: the architectural plans of a standing building, say, or pipelines underneath the street. Solid surfaces become permeable; rules of physics no longer apply.

Squid Lab's Griffith contends that the difference between people who embrace augmented reality and those who abhor it is mostly generational. "Let's just say that for anyone under the age of 30, this isn't even a question to them. When I have children, they won't think it's a problem, and I'll be a grumpy old man saying I can't deal with it."