Software that provides similar analysis of people’s poses and location within a scene for dual camera smartphones would provide a virtual window onto the real world. Using hand gesture recognition, users could naturally interact with a mixed reality world, with the phone’s accelerometer and GPS data detecting and driving changes to how that world is presented and updated.

There has been speculation that Apple intends to use this in Apple Maps for augmenting real world objects with digital information. Other uses will come as third party manufacturers and app designers link their physical products to social media, shopping, and payment opportunities available through a smartphone.

Apple has not arrived here by accident. In addition to acquiring Linx, Apple also purchased augmented reality pioneer Metaio in 2015, suggesting a game plan to develop a mixed reality platform. Metaio was working not just on augmented reality software but also on a mobile hardware chipset that would run AR much faster.

Most tellingly, Apple acquired PrimeSense in 2013. PrimeSense is the Israeli firm that licensed their 3D-sensing technology to Microsoft so it could develop the Kinect. Adding Apple’s focus on social networking into the mix, augmented reality offers the opportunity to build a messaging system with telepresence—holographic or AR representations of distant conversation partners—or a Facetime videoconferencing service with digitized backgrounds and characters. Soon, it might not just be Pokemon that we’re chasing on our phones.

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