Augmented Reality hits its Olympic stride

New interactive map adds a dash of augmented reality to the Olympic Games.

If you're lucky enough to be in London during the Olympics, chances are you've been overwhelmed by the flood of activities surrounding the 2012 Games. British newspaper The Sun wants to help. Working with developers at Fuerte International, and with the augmented reality (AR) company Aurasma, The Sun has produced an interactive poster showing a map of the Olympic park, which, when viewed through an AR mobile phone app, unfolds into a three-dimensional model with detailed information on Olympic events.

AR has taken a long time to gather popular interest, but as each new wave of enthusiasts picks up on the technology, augmented reality grows closer to mainstream adoption. The new Olympic map is far from the only AR stunt to hit a larger audience recently. The new 2013 Ikea catalog , which shipped last week, has additional augmented reality content embedded in its pages including videos with home design ideas, designer profiles, and extended photo galleries. Google also made a splash in the spring when Wired got its hands on a working prototype of the company's new AR glasses , dubbed Project Glass.

As more people get smartphones, and as smartphones get smarter, AR continues to gain attention from a wider audience. But just because public interest is increasing, doesn't mean there aren't still problems. Downloading the Aurasma Lite application to view the AR Olympic map online, I was greeted with the message that "3D auras only work on higher powered Android devices." My Android-based HTC Thunderbolt is only a little over a year old, but it's already under-powered for a basic AR app. That means only the newest hardware can support developers' augmented reality undertakings, and that broad AR adoption may still be a few years away.

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