You might think augmented reality is the way of the future, but really, it has its roots in the 20th century. Morton Heilig, the "Father of Virtual Reality," patented the Sensorama Stimulator, which he called an "experience theater," on Aug. 28, 1962. Over time, the idea of using technology to create a layer over the real world has been honed and refined and put in our palms, thanks to the proliferation of Smartphone.
Urban Exploration- In a new neighborhood or exploring another city? Ditch the Fodor's and grab an AR app that shows you what's nearby and where you should go. These AR apps let you filter by category so you can find exactly what you're looking for, whether it's a coffee shop, restaurant or museum. And you won't need to worry about getting turned around by the map — the AR app will adapt based on what you're facing, so it'll tell you to turn right and get you to your destination, as opposed to just indicating that you should walk northeast (how are you supposed to know which way is northeast?). This kind of AR app already exists — checks out Nokia's City Lens, Wikitude, and Metaio's Junaio and there are more to come.
Travel and History- If you're looking for budget "travel" options or a quick "getaway," you could find a solution in augmented reality. Just plop the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa right in your backyard and unlock monuments during a sort of virtual vacation, and you could learn tidbits about each one as you go. It's a great way to teach your kids, too — "You could have your kid pose with each monument and basically take a 'trip around the world,'" says Rosenthal.
Using AR in this way would be great at home and in classrooms, where history teachers could take students on a "class trip" to the Great Wall of China and even pose for a picture, making education deeply personal and thus, more memorable. This, of course, is different from the AR uses mentioned in #1, since you wouldn't need to be physically in front of the monuments to see them with AR.
Safety and Rescue operations- Chris Grayson, an AR expert, says, "The enterprise space and government employees could see the first real-world benefits" of AR. Emergencies are a fact of life, and first responders, police, and firefighters often arrive at chaotic scenes and need to make sense of the environment and navigate a place they've never been. Wouldn't it be cool if they could see a virtual map of the site or have "X-ray vision" to see underground water and power lines?