Augmented reality taking center stage in tech

Last year, virtual reality generated lots of buzz. This year, the buzz is around a different kind of “reality” technology that could end up being more popular and useful.

That technology is dubbed “augmented reality” and it involves layering virtual information over views, images or videos of the real world. It could be something as simple as adding a virtual ballcap to a picture you’ve taken or as sophisticated as identifying on a screen in real time the person across the room and the place you are in.

Though it’s been around for years in various forms, augmented reality, or AR as it’s commonly known, is starting to draw heightened interest from the tech industry. Among the more recent developments:

* The technology was the was the centerpiece of Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose this past week, and the company added some AR effects to the camera feature in its smartphone apps.

* Apple is reportedly investing heavily in it, and the company just released a video recording app called Clips that has some AR effects built into it.

* Magic Leap, a secretive Florida startup that’s raised more than $1 billion, is reportedly planning to release its AR headset later this year.

* Asus is planning on releasing a phone later this year that will support Google’s Tango augmented reality technology. It would be the second Tango-compatible phone, following one Lenovo released last year.

* And Microsoft has been touting an AR headset called HoloLens. It’s already shipping an early version to programmers…

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