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Yes, there's a trade show for augmented reality, and its demos are enchanting

Armando Rodriguez | June 12, 2013
From musical pants to stinky phones, this year's Augmented World Expo showed us our wonderful (and terrifying) augmented future.

Across the street from the Great America amusement park, a small gathering of augmented reality enthusiasts were building an amusement park of their own. Armed with iPads, Android phones, and high-tech headsets, the people of the Augmented World Expo set about creating a more exciting reality.

Though most of the projects held inside the Santa Clara Convention Center last week were nothing more than proofs of concept, they show us all the benefits (and fun) that augmentation technology can bring. Whether it's software that makes you better at pool, a virtual game you can play on a postcard, or a pair of musical pants, our augmented future looks more interesting by the minute.

Your iPhone stinks!
If you think people's choice in cologne is bad, wait until you get a whiff of their phones. Scentee is an app from ChatPerf that lets your iOS device emit odors. The app works with a small accessory that you plug into your iPhone or iPad's 30-pin connector, and there are over 500 different smells to choose from--including bacon and durian, the famously stinky southeast Asian fruit. It's basically like having a Glade PlugIn for your phone, though I'm pretty sure people will hate you for using this in enclosed spaces, like elevators and subway trains.

The Scentee app will be available starting in August, and the hardware ccessory will retail for $30. ChatPerf tells me it plans to open up its APIs to third-party developers, so the next app you download on your phone could potentially give you a nose-full of fragrance.

A new level of ham-boning
Forget about musical chairs, the future is all about musical pants. These Drum Pants, developed by Tyler Freeman of ODBOL (pronounced "oddball") productions, come lined with sensors that produce noise when tapped. Different parts of the pants correspond to different percussion instruments, and the cacophonous pantaloons can connect to a standard amp or speaker for an even louder jam session.

Tyler says the pants took him a few hours to build and that he's still working on a way to make the sensors less bulky. His end goal is to get the pants banned in public schools--something I don't think he'll have much trouble accomplishing.

Trapped in a virtual maze

Wearable tech and smell-o-vision smartphones might be cool, but everyone knows the best things about augmented reality are the games that leverage the technology. Hermaton is an app for iOS and Android that has you navigating a virtual maze using your smartphone or tablet. You'll need to activate several virtual lights as you make your way through the maze, and take care not to bump into the mesh of pipes that make up its walls.


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