As we know it today, augmented reality (AR) is something you can see when wearing a headset or viewing the world through your tablet. But if the world around you actually augmented itself with screens and images, those AR glasses of yours just might seem a little old-hat. Armed with a few projectors and a bit of mist, that's just that sort of future that the folks at the University of Bristol want to create.
Visiting the lab of Diego Martinez and Sriram Subramanian, you'd likely pick out the MisTable fairly quickly. With a canopy made of fog machines and projectors, this isn't your average dining room venture. But when you turn down the lights and take a seat at the MisTable, you quickly find out how futuristic a thing it really is.
As a curtain of mist flows down before your face, images begin to pop up. Reaching out, you find that you can turn the pictures, edit them and knock them out of the air and onto the tabletop. You can even send them across the table for the MisTable's other guests to check out. All this happens without you needing to don any special eyewear or have a single sensor mounted on your body.
In the future, reality itself could augment to suit your needs. Mid-air displays like those in Tony Stark's lab could become commonplace. We're not there yet, not by a long stretch, but once Martinez and Subramanian enhance the resolution on their proof-of-concept MisTable, we really could be looking at a technology capable of bringing us the holographic interface we've been yearning for — at least while the lights are dimmed.