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Page last updated at 18:07 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 19:07 UK

Gaming takes on augmented reality

By Dan Simmons
Reporter, BBC Click

How on augmented reality is being used in games

Augmented reality - the ability to overlay digital information on the real world - is increasingly finding its way into different aspects of our lives.

Mobile phone applications are already in use to find the nearest restaurants, shops and underground stations.

And the technology is also starting to enter the world of gaming.

Developers are now exploring its potential for a new genre of entertainment, and to create applications that seamlessly integrate our real and virtual identities.

Virus Killer 360

Virus Killer 360 game
The Virus Killer 360 game unleashes a virus over live images

The gaming world has been toying with the idea of using augmented reality to enhance the user's experience.

Virus Killer 360 by UK-firm Acrossair uses a mobile phone's GPS and compass to turn real images of the world into the game board.

This immersive 360-degree game shows the user surrounded by viruses when moving the handset - the aim is to kill the spores before they multiply.

Eye of Judgement

Eye of Judgement
Game characters are brought to life from a real set of cards to battle

The possibilities of augmented reality are explored afresh in the Eye of Judgement.

The PlayStation 3 game uses a camera and a real set of cards to bring monsters to "life" to do battle.

Gamers move the device around over a 2D map to recreate it as a 3D gaming environment.

Like Nintendo's Wii, actions affect the game, except this game offers 360-degree freedom of movement.

Handsets and handheld consoles are not powerful enough to do this yet, but graphics specialists and researchers believe the tech is only one to two years away.

Person signposts

Person tagging
One day people could find out tagged info about those around them

We could soon be using augmented reality to tell us more about the people around us.

Users in a Swedish trial set their profiles on a mobile phone, deciding what elements of their online self they want to share, including photos, interests, and Facebook updates.

For instance, someone giving a presentation at a meeting could choose to share their name and the slides for others to see.

Others in the room could point their phone at the person to download the information directly to their handset.

But for this mash-up of social networking and augmented reality to work, face-recognition software will have to be improved.

The development of this technology could be speeded up if the app was limited to the contacts in a user's mobile phone.

Info on the go

Taking a picture
Could taking a picture become as easy as holding our fingers in the future?

The ultimate goal of augmented reality is for information just to appear as people go about their daily tasks.

For instance, a camera worn around the neck would read a book title, get reviews from Amazon, and project the results back onto the book.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are exploring the possibilities of object recognition.

One day it may be possible to take a photo simply by making a rectangle shape with their fingers, they believe.

Watch Click on BBC News Channel, Saturday 29 August at 11.30 (BST).

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