Augmented reality has been a bit of a Star Trek thing until now - you know, one of those things that seems a good idea but won't really work outside of a few sci-fi shows.
Well, maybe it won't be for long. The BBC is among the sources suggesting it's going to be used a great deal on mobiles in the very near future.
Having seen some of it in action during 2009, my guess is that they're right. Not because it's spectacular, which it can be, but because of the way it can interact with other timely applications.
The application I saw was Worksnug. Put simply, you're in town, you're between meetings and you need to know where there's WiFi you can use. Yes, all the cafes have signs in their windows but you don't want to be stuck with a lousy coffee.
So you hold your Android or iPhone up to the street and look at the screen, using its camera. You have a picture of the street (of course) but better still, you have an overlay with directions to the nearest WiFi hotspot.
It gets better because of the mix of social media that can apply. The clever bit about this particular application is that when you touch the directions to the cafe on screen you get a write-up from other users and you can add comments yourself. So you'll find out about that lousy coffee, or the noise levels (this needn't be a criticism, not every cafe sees itself as a working environment, they're quite happy with 'lively eaterie'!) and can advise others.
Other applications exist to overlay directions to the subway/tube, and one of my favourites works out where you are and substitutes a picture of your surroundings as they would have been 80 years ago or so and shows it to you on your screen.
Markets do strange things sometimes, and this might be one of those occasions. But if there's any justice around at all then this area should be really big in the coming year.