Augmented Reality or AR is a term for for "a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery - creating a mixed reality."
Cassette Playa's Autumn/Winter 1011 collection, seen last week in London, is the first Augmented Reality collection presented during fashion week. Already showcased in high fashion and design magazines like Esquire and Wallpaper*, AR is on the rise as a superstar technology. Its done with your computer or cell phone camera and an application, either downloaded or on a website. The application uses your camera to read the little black and white symbols (called "markers") printed on the clothing, or in case of the magazines, on paper. These markers tell the computer what images to associate with what AR visualization and then superimpose the image onto the model or magazine page. You can only view the augmented images on a screen or screen-based device.
While Cassette's show is on the fringe of fashion, the concept is deployable and possible today through cell phone technology and your own laptop camera (as seen above in the Wallpaper* video). What I find interesting is that AR has also become a design inspiration such as with Reed + Rader's fun looking animated GIFs for Spiral Mag (above). These cool animations are not related to a B&W symbol at all, but stand as unique graphical characters on their own. As you can see, Augmented Reality can be a fun and powerful tool for the future of fashion and advertising. So far fashion houses haven't picked up this electronic golden egg, but I assume they will soon, if they're smart.
Imagine Chanel bags and shoes with hidden images you can only see by holding up your cell phone camera to them? What would they say? Or how about our favorite movie stars? They could have secret messages in their clothing that only we could see as they walked down the red carpet. Could the FCC keep these hidden images under control?
If you want to test out Augmented Reality right now, follow this link to Reed + Rader's site: http://www.reedandrader.com. Also, get prepared for the future by downloading one of the many iPhone and GPhone apps already on the market.
Here are some other early design and fashion adopters of AR Technology (beware the T-post link is PG-13)