How technology can extend our senses

Reblogged from Science on the Net

Imagine that you are on the top of a mountain, looking at a beautiful panorama. Then imagine being able, thanks to modern technology, to read the names of the peaks you are watching, their altitude and the composition of their rocks. This ability is called augmented reality.

Actually, augmented reality is no longer a dream, but something concrete that we can have literally in our pockets. There are augmented reality apps for our mobile phones that enable us to digitally interact with historical monuments in our towns and villages. A glimpse of this can be seen with the famous Google Glass, which can give us traffic news, as well as updates on received messages. In other words, an enrichment of our sensory perception can be achieved through the augmentation of digital information, effectively extending our five senses. This is, and will be, a very powerful technology, and Italy is at theforefront of the research in this field.


“There is a huge difference between what is called virtual reality and term augmented reality,” explains Stefano Messelodi, researcher at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler and among those who have taken part in the VENTURI Project, which focused on vision-enhanced augmented reality and ended in autumn 2014. “Virtual reality creates artificial environments that do not exist in reality and enables virtual subjects to move within them.” A good example of this research field is Euroversity, which is a tool designed to support the development of virtual world environments. “Augmented reality is another thing,” Messelodi continues. “It means the insertion of digital information into a real environment, and to ensure that this additional information is harmonized with the environment in which the user is located.” To sum up, augmented reality represents a natural enrichment and not an artificial substitution, thus deepening the environment around us.

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