Once upon a time, augmented reality was considered nothing more than a fantasy. For years, those wishing to experience augmented reality escaped into vast, futuristic worlds portrayed in science-fiction. Author Bruce Sterling is all too familiar with this phenomenon, as we wrote some of the first books to feature AR technology. Sterling is renowned for crafting high technology from his imagination, but now he is bringing his ideas into reality. This time, however, he is not writing them down in a book.
At the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Sterling is considered to be the resident visionary. When he was writing science-fiction, augmented reality was in a state of infancy. Those that were aware of the technologies existence – a stark few, to be sure – were convinced that augmented reality would not become a real industry for generations. Technology has advanced much more quickly than could have been foreseen and now AR has become one of the most promising and sought-after technologies in the world.
The advent of AR has driven Sterling to try his hand at developing a mobile application making use of the technology. Based on the Layar platform, Sterling’s app, titled Dead Drops, allows users to participate in a virtual treasure hunt. The app is named after an underground concept of data distribution. These “dead drops” are often portable storage devices embedded in city walls and at other location that are nearly invisible to the naked eye. These devices often contain information or programs of varied importance and value, but they are always useful to whomever finds them.
Sterling’s app guides users to these locations via virtual displays overlaying the real world.