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Nokia's augmented reality

Nokia's research center working on Mobile Augmented Reality.

PALO ALTO, Calif.--While it sounds like a traveling magic show, Mobile Augmented Reality is actually the future of how we'll access information on our wireless phones.

Nokia Research Center

Though researchers around the world have been developing the technology for a decade, Nokia gave us a peek at its foray into the field Thursday when it opened its Nokia Research Center (NRC) in Palo Alto, Calif. And yes, it is a little bit magical.

Combining mobile cameras, GPS, orientation sensors and wireless devices, mobile augmented reality lets a device capture an image of a location, like San Francisco's Union Square, for example. Using GPS, names of locations would pop up on the image. The text could then be hyperlinked to give more useful information, said David Murphy, research engineer at NRC.

For instance, if looking south from Union Square, you could point the camera at The Cheesecake Factory on the top floor of Macy's and check how many tourists you'd have to wait behind to gorge yourself on a giant piece of cake.

And looking even further into the future, with the deployment of indoor positioning systems, mobile augmented reality could allow information on things like museum exhibits to be available instantly and at the click of a button.