The Big Idea
Art and photos: Oliver Uberti, NGM Staff
Revealed World
Imagine bubbles floating before your eyes, filled with cool info about stuff you see on the street. Science fiction? Nope. It's augmented reality. And one day it'll be as routine as browsing the Web.

You could call it reality 1.0—the unvarnished world presented to us by our five senses. It's not always the most user-friendly of places. We get lost in unfamiliar cities; we meet people whose language we don't understand. Fortunately there's an upgrade in the works that might eliminate some of the bugs: augmented reality, or AR. This emerging technology superimposes computer-generated images on the real world, courtesy of a cell phone camera or special video glasses.

Early forms of AR have already arrived. After downloading software, owners of smart phones like the iPhone and Droid can use the built-in GPS, compass, and camera to find information about nearby ATMs and restaurants, the closest subway stop, and other points of interest in some cities. With AR you might aim a phone's camera at a restaurant, and on the screen you'll see not just the venue but also a review hovering above it.