Looking Outwards – Augmented Reality History

by Karl DD @ 4:06 pm 11 January 2010

If you listen to the radio at all, you might have heard an ad from Verizon trying to sell the DROID phone. One of the selling points, among a whole bunch of other jargon, was that “Droid does Augmented Reality”. This is interesting for me because I didn’t realize that AR was part of the general public’s vocabulary. It is hard for me to picture some one hearing that and then rushing out to buy a DROID phone.

I’m posting here the very first Augmented reality system, made by Jun Rekimoto in 1994-1995.

NaviCam (Sorry these aren’t embedded, WordPress cuts out my embed code and the Video insert button just adds this link)

NaviCam doesn’t look like much more than a video barcode reader but it is in the CyberCode demo that we really see what you can do with AR.


I have seen a whole bunch of AR projects, but the fundamentals are very much the same as shown in these demo’s from 15 years ago. His paper The World Through the Computer is also well worth a look. My gut feeling is that the ‘world through a computer’ is only a stepping stone on the road to augmenting the world directly using more ’embodied’ display techniques, whether they be personal projection, holographs, or whatever. I think people are too social to be stuck up in a virtual world with VR glasses or separated from the world via a touchscreen display.


  1. The ancient AR system is impressive. Technically, how hard is it for a hand held camera to recognize colored pattern in random light?

    Comment by Cheng — 18 January 2010 @ 2:26 am
  2. I don’t think it is that difficult.
    A lot of digital cameras now have in built face-tracking, Golan can correct me if I am wrong, but the principles are much the same.

    Comment by Karl DD — 18 January 2010 @ 7:36 am
  3. seen a bunch of prototypes that are used in research with webcam AR games….

    mosquitoes for the iphone has been a readily available AR game for the public to use if im not mistaken though….


    Comment by Mishugana — 18 January 2010 @ 7:41 am

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