There's been a lot of buzz/hype about AR recently ("Augmented Reality" or digital/real world overlaps/overlays), but here's another type of AR - rather than presenting the illusion of overlaying digital information onto the real world (via a phone or web-cam, for example), why not project information out into the real world via a laser and photo-scanner?
The result is "Sticky Light" - light that can detect and interact with areas of the physical world that have differences in darkness or colour. So far they can only project single-points of light, but already some interesting applications are beginning to suggest themselves:
Well, yes, games and art-installations - of course! - but straight away I can also see some sort of Sticky Light-based system or app that could potentially auto-map any environment that it finds itself in, by detecting colour/shadow boundaries. Now, just wait 'til they start building systems that can generate geometries far more complex than single point-sources.
How about: err, non- or post-physical light-'robots'?
'Intelligent'/coherent (ie can recognise sub-elements of 'self') light-forms capable of exploring/mapping various environments or terrains? (ooops, possible military uses there too!).
Inverted AR (ie projection rather than overlay) interests me in particular - I think it's more intuitive (and more startling!) in a way - I've been hearing a lot of talk of miniature (we're talking pretty small!) projection systems that can blow up high-ish res video to large-scale projected images - big enough to fill up the wall of a room, for example. It won't be long until these systems fit into a phone - they're already not far off - so, here, perhaps is yet another way of killing off TV. You and your mates can watch whatever on-demand vid or clip you want in high-quality on a wall wherever you want
, rather than clustered around a TV/PC/phone/palm-screen. A garage-wall and some beer-crates becomes a cinema (plug yr phone into a sound-system) or a rave light-show...an attic-space, a cliff on the beach...whatever.