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How Google is melding our real and virtual worlds with games, apps ... and Glass

May 14, 2013 | Telepresence Options

google glass park


Story and Images by John Koetsier / VentureBeat

"The world around you is not what it seems," says�Ingress, the virtual game that uses the real world as its gamespace. And, perhaps, when Google's semi-independent division�Niantic Labs is finished with its mission, we humans won't be, either.

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and usable. Note carefully that Google says nothing about the Internet in that statement.

In the last few eye-blinks of human history, we've created virtual worlds: cyberspace, virtual reality, the World Wide Web ... places that exist in our devices, on our computers, in our servers, on the internet, and in our heads.�But there's also a space in which we live and walk and eat and breathe. Realspace. Meatspace. IRL.�The real world, so we say, that we can touch and taste and smell.

Google's trying to bring those world together, partly through the work of Niantic Labs.

Augmented reality is nothing new, of course, with marketing-focused companies like Layar building connections between physical and virtual reality and Ikea's�most-downloaded branded app of 2012�doing similar things. Other startups have explored AR capabilities as well, such as Caterina Fake's�Findery, which invites people to leave geo-tied notes that others can discover and read.

But when a company with the resources of a Google tackles the problem, and has a tool in Google Glass that seems destined for significant developer (and probably user) penetration that can actually create interconnections between the real and the virtual perhaps more efficiently than any other previous product, you've got something interesting. And potentially huge.

So a couple of weeks ago, I chatted with the man who's leading that effort.



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