I've heard a lot lately about augmented reality, one of those brave-new-world-type tech trends people talk about at web conferences. It's basically the ability to create an altered version of reality that's accessible to anyone looking through the lens of a smartphone.
I had my first experience with it on Saturday. I expected that to happen in a big city, maybe Boston or New York. I never would have guessed that I'd encounter my first augmented-reality objects on a walking tour in Woodstock, Vt.
New-media artist and Pace University professor Will Pappenheimer led the tour. That morning, Pappenheimer had placed virtual, 3D, animated objects in various spots around town. At the start of the afternoon excursion, he asked the eight of us who joined him to load the Layars app onto our smartphones. Then he led us to the installation sites, instructed us to turn on our video cameras, and told us where to look.
At each site, we saw an object that seemed to be just part of the scenery. The image above, of the blue flowery thing floating inside the covered bridge, is not Photoshopped — it's a screenshot from 7D deputy web editor Tyler Machado's iPhone.
The tour was part of the inaugural Woodstock Digital Media Festival, an event that aimed to showcase "the most interesting, progressive and accessible work in the world of digital media today." Organizer David McGowan, a media executive who splits his time between Woodstock and London, hopes the festival will become an annual occurrence.
I hope so, too. I was there to moderate a panel discussion on "Digital Vermont." I was initially a little skeptical about the digital art, but every time I would start to head to the car to drive home, something else would pull me back in.