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Sony SmartAR lets augmented reality information escape

This video has us seeing things: pink teddy bears, to be precise. Sony's amazing SmartAR augmented reality technology allows AR characters to frolic into the real world.

This video has us seeing things: pink teddy bears, to be precise. Sony's amazing SmartAR augmented reality technology allows cute AR characters to escape their digital bonds and frolic into the real world.

Animated characters and information frolic around school thanks to high-speed recognition and tracking of objects. Augmented reality currently requires markers: a real world pattern that the AR software recognises and translates into onscreen information. When a marker does appear, it doesn't need to stay onscreen, as the AR can continue when the phone moves away from the marker.

It's just a research project, but the video looks very cool. Like Olivia Wilde in Tron: Legacy or Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science, a pink teddy escapes his digital origins, toddling off into the real world with no restrictions, even terrifyingly growing like a digital pink Mr Stay-Puft.

Sony bosses would probably love to toddle off and escape from reality for a while: the company is about to reveal that it lost £2bn in the last year. A combination of natural disasters, tax write-offs and the calamitous hacking of the PlayStation Network have meant a bleak year for Sony, although it's not the only company to have been affected by the Japan earthquake.

The hacking of Sony's PlayStation Network and Qriocity online services have cost Sony around £106m, the company says in an earnings report. The personal and financial details of over 100 million users were stolen by hackers in April, causing the online services to be shut for a month.

As Sony struggles to compensate users with free games and identity theft protection, and get online services back up and running, it's emerging that a user database for one of Sony's Greek operations has also been hacked today. If we were Sony executives, we'd don a pink teddy bear suit and check out of reality for a bit too.

We hope SmartAR makes it into Sony Ericsson phones, as it could be called SmartAR SE. Other mind-bending uses of augmented reality include Wikitude AR in 3D, the Nintendo 3DS and the frankly miraculous Word Lens translation app. So, what would you little maniacs like to do first?