Amazon Is Developing Augmented Reality Without the Dorky Headgear

Analysts predict AR could create $400 billion worth of commerce by 2025.

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Dec 2 2015, 4:02pm

Image: Amazon/USPTO

Virtual reality has been all over the news for years now, but judging by the patents they've been quietly filing, Amazon thinks the real future lies in augmented reality.

Augmented reality is the projection of computer-based graphics into the real world—imagine a projected interface you could manipulate through gesture. But for the time being, AR is stuck in the same trap as VR, in that both require you to wear a giant, clunky headset.

And just like no one has ever wanted to wear orthodontic headgear, manipulated-reality headgear isn't that great, either. Just this week, Motherboard's Short Circuit editor Nicholas Deleon tried out VR porn on a tube site and noted the impracticality of having to use one hand to hold the VR goggles to your face.

But Amazon is thinking outside the box, with patents exploring the possibility of AR interfaces beamed from components that do not have to be worn. One patent shows projectors mounted on a living room ceiling and beaming through two "lamps," so different AR interfaces can coexist in the same room.

Citi analysts think AR could eventually replace smartphones, predicting $400 billion in AR-related commerce by the year 2025. As Financial Times reports, "Citi predicts superimposing data over our everyday vision will bring 'life changes similar to those triggered by the birth of the internet'."

That's a big claim, but seeing as how AR could prove much more useful than the already super-hyped virtual reality systems coming out now, Citi's projection might bear out.