His demo takes a regular physical business card and extends its content using augmented reality objects, displaying buttons to text, call, Facetime, and email people or look at their web pages. As you move the card in the real world, these virtual elements move with it as if they were as real as the card itself. Since physical cards have limited space, these virtual thingamajigs seem like an easy way to expand on the amount of information they can contain.
How it works: Falmer used Image Live Tracking Technology, an ARKit 2.0 feature that allows your phone to track an image in 3D space and use it as an anchor to attach computer-generated images to the physical space. ARKit 2.0 is Apple’s augmented reality development environment, which Falmer tells me let him develop this neat toy in just three days.
Of course, you need a phone to see the card’s extra functionality: You have to take the card, hold it up in the air, then take your phone out, launch a card reader application, point at the card, and then you will see the extended information.
This is something Falmer acknowledges: “The current limitation [of some AR apps] is hardware which is still big and expensive–like Hololens, Vuzix, or Daqri headsets. . . . It will be ubiquitous once affordable AR glasses are available on the market.”
In other words, the demo is subject to the same dilemmas most AR applications face, until AR glasses become ubiquitous. And even if such glasses do hit the mainstream, it remains to be seen whether we’ll wear them all the time (or just wait for retinal implants). For now, demos like Falmer’s hint at a faraway future that’s still anything but certain.