We know Nintendo fans like to believe their favourite video game manufacturer is responsible for every invention in the video game space, but on this occasion they are wrong [ooooh, sick burn - Ed]. Sony, in fact, has been dabbling with AR for years.
Overnight the company announced SmartAR, a technology that's important for one major reason: no more cards. If you think of EyePet on the PlayStation 3, you had to place a very specific card on the carpet for the EyePet to appear. SmartAR will work with a variety of objects and sources, adding "new value to various services and business applications such as advertising and games".
While the embedded demonstration is being shown on a Sony Ericsson mobile phone, we have to assume that Sony will be implementing the same technology into the NGP. Sony's already teased the possibility of AR in the new handheld, and we're expecting to see more at E3.
The potential is huge though. Imagine you're waiting at a train-station with your NGP. There's a poster on the wall advertising a new game. You point your NGP at the poster and via 3G and SmartAR you unlock a small mini-game that not only passes the time until the train arrives, but also serves as an interactive advert for the product being promoted. Maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves, but that would be amazing, no?