By Robert Schoon ( | First Posted: Aug 21, 2013 04:01 PM EDT

(Photo : NianticLabs@Google)

In Field Trip, Google Glass might have found its killer app.

Google Glass has been referred to as a way to free smartphone users' hands or to get them to keep their heads up while still texting, navigating, or looking up information. But let's face it: the one singular quality of Google Glass that is the most exciting is the possibility for an eventual augmented reality system. Field Trip, an Android and iOS app, just announced their Glassware app, and it's the first application taking a step towards augmented reality.

Augmented reality is the idea of having an overlay of digital information constantly on top of the actual world, transforming how we interact with both. For a simple, visual idea of what that means, here's an example of art in the space of augmented reality:

Field Trip is a new app for Google Glass that literally augments reality with information about the places you are visiting. In this video, Glass recognizes the locations the Field Tripper is either looking at or walking through. The app pops up information cards with matching pictures of the reality the user is walking through and gives options for finding out more information - either about the history of the place, or useful details about nearby businesses and deals.

John Hanke, of Niatic Labs, which is part of Google, explained the Field Trip Glass app to CNET. "If you've ever tried to use your smartphone with a group of people, it's socially awkward," he said. "Or with my kids they're likely to step in front of traffic."

But the Field Trip Glassware, like the device it runs on, has a longer and more interesting trajectory than just simply providing smartphone information without having to look down at your smartphone. "The long-term vison is the real version of augmented reality, this deep knowledge of your environment without having to do any work," said Hanke to CNET.

Field Trip has been around for Android phones for almost a year now, and the iOS version soon followed. But Hanke says that the goal was always Google Glass, the smart glasses that are currently in Beta testing through the Google Explorers program, and will likely be released to a larger swath of the general public either near the end of the year or sometime in 2014. "The product was conceived with Glass in mind," said Hanke, "but Glass wasn't ready."

When Glass is ready, Field Trip will be, too. And it may be the "killer app" that every new technology supposedly needs in order to break out in the marketplace as anything more than a novelty. While the app for Glass is still rather pared down and simple, watching the introductory video, you can imagine more interactive, detailed, rich and responsive information popping up in the same format.

Such an idea might be the killer app - the reason why people might be willing to spend the rumored $300 (or conceivably more) that the Google Glass smartphone accessory will cost. And maybe, in time and with more development, it might literally transform the way you see the world.

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