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Augmented Reality
The first step in the Defictionalization of Cyber Space.
Augmented Reality refers to any system that overlays virtual objects or information on top or beside images from the real world.

Distinguished from a Heads-Up Display in that the information in a HUD is presented as being on the surface it's projected on, whereas Augmented Reality is usually presented as "actually" being part of the world behind it. It's pretty much the epitome Real Life example of Goggles Do Something Unusual.

Compare to The Metaverse, which may appear similarly depending on how its used.

See also Stat-O-Vision, which is how this is often used in fiction.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dennou Coil revolves around a town set up for an Augmented Reality system which children have access to.
  • Fractale - Fractale system
  • Appears in Ghost in the Shell where cyberbrains allow people to add additional information into their normal perception of reality.
  • Robotics;Notes uses Augmented Reality as a central element. An AI named Airi is only visible on the viewfinder of camera on tablets and cellphones since she exists in a computer network, and a robot built by the Robotics Club uses AR to overlay an image of a Super Robot from the Show Within a Show over the robot's chassis.
  • In Iris Zero most people have a power called an Iris that basically allows them to view an Augmented Reality. Most younger people, anyway.
  • In Battle Angel Alita, when Alita is surrounded by enemy covered by smoke bombs, Lou sends the location of her assailants and booby traps which superimpose on her vision.
  • The eponymous Eden of the East has a phone app which uses augmented reality. Point the camera at anything, and it will give you any information Eden has on the subject.
    • In fact, this particular app is what ends up helping Akira intercept the missiles threatening Japan.
  • Rather than the holographic images seen in other series, Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL portrays the monster duels through augmented-reality eyepieces. Besides just the graphics handwave, an early episode had a hacker's supposed "evil scheme" turn out to be making a giant QR code.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Kyon Big Damn Hero it's shown Mikuru was given an Augmented Reality system as a part of her conditioning (probably to help her with the culture shock). It doesn't seem to interact well with some movies.
    • It's the way the SOS brigade can interact with Achakura.

    Literature 
  • California Voodoo Game uses this trope because they're outside of the Dream Park environment.
  • The gargoyles in Snow Crash. They wear bulky outfits that allow them to carry a full suite of high-end surveillance equipment wherever they go. This allows them to look up information on the Internet with ease, as well as record and scan anything they see. They have a reputation for being freaks and loners.
  • Members of the Daemon's "darknet" wear Cool Shades that project data from the Daemon onto the lenses, along with haptic gloves. The shades are keyed to their retinas, and the gloves to their fingerprints. These are used by the initial operatives to actively turn Real Life into a high-stakes Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game - carrying out missions to increase the Daemon's influence over the world result in "Character Levels" that grant them access to increasingly powerful devices and abilities. Eventually, the darknet becomes an entire civilization that is Invisible to Normals.
  • Anyone with eyescreens in the Ugly-verse
  • Halting State by Charles Stross is set just after now and features glasses that give directions and handy pointers as standard for some of the characters. It also shows how this could be turned against the user by having the glasses hacked and fed misleading information, visual noise, etc. One cop is subjected to an attack via his glasses that leave him vomiting in a trashcan during a police raid.
  • Most people in David Brin's Existence have goggles that allow them to perceive any of a thousand "layers" to the "mesh" over the real world. Some have contact lenses or even eye implants.
  • In Accel World this is commonplace via "NeuroLinkers", essentially smartphones worn on the neck that alter the signals from the wearer's eyes. They can even be used to correct poor vision.
  • "Wearables" in Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End provide this through smart contact lenses (among other things). You can build custom views of things, but most people prefer to participate in one of the many overlapping shared virtual worlds, usually based on popular works of fiction, like Discworld. (Vinge mentions that royalties from the Discworld virtual reality have allowed Terry Pratchett to buy up a substantial chunk of Scotland.) Basically, you can participate in a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game while walking down the street.

    Live Action TV 
  • Geordi's visor on Star Trek: The Next Generation qualifies. As seen in the episode "The Heart of Glory", it sees visually but also overlays data about electromagnetic fields (such as the "aura" around Lt. Data, which he assumed everyone could see) and metal fatigue, which are not fundamentally visual data.
  • Some helicopters in Fringe's alternate universe have an information service that works in this manner.
    • Presumably it includes an overlay of massive three-dimensional block letters identifying your current location.
  • This is becoming rather common for sports broadcasts:
    • The line-of-scrimmage and line-to-gain lines during American football games.
    • Some ads on sports arenas work this way. The fans in the stadium see nothing, but a logo is projected onto the field/court/pitch for broadcast. This is especially useful for sports like tennis or association football that may go a long time between commercial breaks.
    • From 1996 to 1998, the Fox network augmented its coverage of professional hockey games with FoxTrax, a combination of hardware and software that created a glow around the puck, making it easier for viewers to track as it moved around the ice. When the puck was passed or shot, the glow became a blue or red comet trail, depending on the puck's speed. Despite generally positive reception, the idea was ridiculed in some corners, so when ratings declined, Fox abandoned the concept just to be safe.
    • The FoxTrax name was revived in 2001 when similar technology was applied to auto racing. The television coverage rotates from one car to another, and the display shows the driver's name, photo, and other pertinent stats, as well as the car's current speed and position. Collected data from the car's transponders can also be used to show the driver's course through each turn.
    • Similar systems are used in Major League Baseball games, most commonly to show the course, speed, and placement of recent pitches.
  • A non-technological, Painting the Medium variation is used to represent Sherlock's Sherlock Scans in, er, Sherlock. His first impressions of people are rendered with annotations marking subtle details he's picking up from their appearance.

    Radio 
  • In one episode of The Ricky Gervais Show Karl comes up with something similar to this, saying that a person could have the world appear a certain way through a pair of glasses (e.g. somebody could have virtual graffiti over real-life walls). Ricky and Stephen tell him it's the stupidest idea they've ever heard.

    Real Life 
  • This TEDTalk shows one such system developed by MIT. This one shows a good example of Augmented Reality maps as seen through phones.
    • Several mapping applications on the iPhone have similar Augmented Reality functions, such as the Yelp! app.
    • The latest version of StarWalk uses the iOS Device's camera to determine the location of stars, satellites and other astronomical features in real time.
  • LEGO Stores have cameras set up where if you held certain sets up to the camera, it shows an animation of the completed set played sitting on the box itself.
  • Google's Project Glass (first advertised in 2012) is an A.R. project that, as planned, would allow a smartphone-like device to be worn on one's head. Early versions (early 2013) are pretty basic, with most of its functionality in video and pictures, so far. The later versions (projected for late 2013) are planned to be more like an actual wearable-smartphone. And it looks pretty ambitious.
  • The NianticLabs@Google project Ingress is a cross between an augmented-reality game (think ''ARQuake'') and an Alternate Reality Game.
  • In order to promote Godzilla (2014) at the 2010 Comic-Con, Legendary Pictures gave out t-shirts showing Godzilla concept art that would have him using his atomic breath when viewed through a special webcam at the Legendary Pictures booth.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Eclipse Phase has this as part of a post-singularity future.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, certain privileged members and associates of the Adeptus Mechanicus are given the augment ices necessary to see and interact with the "noosphere", giving them access to A.R. where the noosphere is available.
  • The Fourth Edition of Shadowrun features a widespread acceptance of Augmented Reality. This was mostly an effort to get Hacker Characters out into the field.
  • Advanced goggles and glasses in GURPS: Ultratech give lots amounts of information about everything around them including hyperspectral imaging of the environment.
  • Endemic in Tranhuman Space, with lots of interesting ideas about how it could be used. For instance, there's a popular restaurant chain called My Own Favourite Restaurant. The actual decor is bland, because it's a backdrop for what you want it to look like. It's mentioned that it's not easy (but still possible) to hack the glasses and implants, but it's relatively straightforward to hack the VR tags feeding them the information.

    Video Games 
  • The PlayStation 3 has virtual pet game Eye Pet and the card game The Eye Of Judgment that both use the PlayStation Eye camera and overlay the games visuals on the video feed from the camera.
  • The PSP would become the first handheld system to feature Augmented Reality with the aid of an add-on camera. Invizimals made a prime example of this feature.
    • Its successor, the PS Vita, made the built in camera being used for AR games a major selling point.
  • In addition to having a 3D display screen and a 3D camera, the Nintendo 3DS will also be the first Nintendo handheld video game console to incorporate Augmented Reality gameplay (via "cards").
    • The pack-in titles, AR Games and Face Raiders, take advantage of the feature, with both having added use of the built-in gyroscope.
    • Nintendogs + Cats also takes advantage of the feature to let you play with your pets in the "real world", as does Pokédex 3D.
    • Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir ships with a notebook filled with deranged imagery which the games uses and enhances through its story mode.
    • Kid Icarus: Uprising uses collectible AR Idol Cards that can battle each other. Scanning each card also gives you its corresponding idol in game, saving you some time looking for random drops (of course, the cards you get from packs are random anyway, and it's much harder to find card packs at all than it is to get idols in-game.
    • The Denpa Men and Pokémon Dream Radar both follow the example of Face Raiders, using the system's motion sensor to overlay game elements on the real world.
    • Bravely Default comes with AR cards that allow you to view short scenes based on the card. There's also a Sequel Hook movie available after the credits that makes good use of it.
  • Geomon runs off this trope using your real geography, weather, season, and time of day to find and fight monsters.
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier features this; Augmented Reality is used as a justification for the player's HUD, with waypoints, ammo counters and maps being displayed.
  • Borderlands and Borderlands 2 use a similar justification. All of the data on the player's HUD, including ammo, weapon stats, minimaps, and enemy health/shields/armor are displayed by a device called an "ECHO" given to the player at the start of the game, either free of charge from a semi-friendly Mega Corp. in the first game, or totally not looted off this corpse in the second.
  • A number of promotional games make use of your webcam and AR cards to play special content. There was a Lord of the Rings trading card game web-based AR special that made use of a Collectible Card Game foil special of a Balrog with a specially marked back for such special content that was distributed as a freebie with some CCG magazines in 2010 or 2011.

     Web original 
  • Sight is about a world where people have a chip in their eyes that provides augmented reality.
  • H+: The Digital Series, is built around this technology.
  • In Avalons Reign, people can get ocular implants called OSIs that impart this function.

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