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We are on the cusp of some big breakthroughs for augmented reality, and a little soccer-ball-like droid wants to show you how it works.

A developed called Trixi Studios has uploaded a video to YouTube that tests out Google’s Project Tango “mixed reality” platform with characters from the Star Wars universe. In the clip, we see a digital BB-8, a stormtrooper, and Boba Fett walking around and interacting with the real world. This is because Project Tango can detect physical objects, which enables these computer-generated characters to understand where they are. Mixed reality — which is another name for augmented reality — is one of the big leaps that companies like Google, Microsoft, and Magic Leap are working on. It is likely that we’ll begin seeing this tech in consumer devices before the end of 2016, and tech advisor Digi-Capital predicts this market — along with virtual reality — will grow to $150 billion by 2020.

For now, you can see the potential of this platform as it mixes gaming and imaging to give you an immersive experience with digital characters. Check it out:


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Mixing together the physical world with a real-time 3D character is a difficult computational task. That’s why a company like Magic Leap is raising hundreds of millions of dollars to get ready for an eventual consumer release.

For Google, its Project Tango devices are a pair of tablets with several hyperaccurate sensors that can feed location and orientation information to software. Games and apps can then use that data to overlay a digital animations on top of a camera feed.

The eventual goal of this kind of technology isn’t just to give people games and entertainment — instead, Microsoft is already looking to use its HoloLens augmented reality head-mounted display for various professional industries. The idea is that you can put “hologram” like visualizations to help improve productivity and knowledge sharing.

Microsoft released a concept video earlier this year that shows what is imagining for the HoloLens:

2016 feels like the first year where we’ll get to see a number of devices truly relying on augmented reality, and that’s because Google, Microsoft, and Magic Leap are still getting the tech ready for everyday use. And once we get our hands on it, we’ll get to see whether it really is the future of productivity — or if it’s best left as a Star Wars toy.

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