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Corning’s vision of the future, long shared by SF writers, is that any surface can be made smart, acting both as a display and an input device, and it’s only getting better. This year they’ve expanded on the original “A Day Made of Glass” video with elements that reflect our emerging familiarity with touch screens and augmented reality.

Augmented reality is one of the new themes in Corning's update of their 2011 "A Day Made of Glass".

Corning’s vision of the future, long shared by SF writers, is that any surface can be made smart, acting both as a display and an input device, and it’s only getting better. This year they’ve expanded on the original “A Day Made of Glass” video with elements that reflect our emerging familiarity with touch screens and augmented reality.More and more your view of the world is through Corning glass, in the case of smartphones, tablets and laptops, it’s Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2®  which is pretty rugged stuff, especially compared to the display covers of just a few years ago. With the advent of touch screens, the look of electronic devices is moving more and more towards a common image; an active display in whatever size is handy for the application, be that a pocket sized phone or tablet, something closer to the size of a piece of paper, or an entire wall.

In large part, this ongoing revolution is the product of Apple’s iPad® and it’s pod and phone predecessors, which paved the way. It wasn’t until the page sized pad gave main stream consumers access to a multi-touch  environment that people started to think in terms of interacting with images and displays directly. Multi-touch came onto the small screen scene in 2007 when the iPhone was released, and on the big screen with Microsoft’s Surface the same year.

Last year Corning released a concept video showing how smart surfaces could touch our lives in the not too distant future, watching a family go through their day augmented by interactive displays on desks, devices, walls and  larger formats. Now they’ve released a new video showing the same family in this year’s vision of the future. The interactive technology shown for both years is perfectly plausible, though the cost of incorporating all that smart glass and computing power, not to mention providing it with bandwidth, seems daunting to us here in the present. Bandwidth, of course, is another part of glass’ portfolio of present and future tricks, as Corning points out in the extended narrated version: “A Day Made of Glass 2: Unpacked. The Story Behind Corning’s Vision.”

Fab though the glassy image of the future seems, what’s caught my eye was how things had changed over the space of a year, and why. In the 2012 vision, we see much the same use of interactive surfaces, but the relationship between virtual and mundane reality is shifting, as we see the world re-themed in the colors of the day on the one hand, and inhabited by virtual characters, in this case dinosaurs, that we can hold up our see through tablets to view as they romp around the “real’ world.

In stores equipped with Lego's Digital Boxes, "customers can hold LEGO boxes up to the DIGITAL BOX and watch a 3D animation of the product – from all angles, in every detail. "

Augmented reality has taken hold in some very real applications over the past year, including Lego’s Digital Box® Kiosks, which show the competed Lego product when the box is held up to them, and which have already been rolled out in some locations.

The one thing that neither video shows, but is the logical next step for augmented reality, is enhanced glasses, which show the world beyond overlain with data and virtual objects, just like the tablet which shows dinosaurs in the video…maybe even active lenses, which could change their focus or magnify images. Now that would be a day worth looking forward to.



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