I've been studying up on something called Augmented Reality. I'm sure most of you know about it. I never learn anything first. If not, you'd do yourself a favor to do a search on it.
In a nutshell, a designated personal device you use has software/hardware to overlay data in any desired preference in physical reality. You view a resturant in AR, and you get as much info as that resturant provides. Want to overlay graphics? That's where it really gets mindblowing.
Sounds like SF, doesn't it? I think this will be commonplace in about five years. Seriously. And I'm usually conservative about predictions.
What has me thinking is the way a person would choose to interact with AR. Most of the images and videos I've seen wrap physical reality in augmented reality. But then I found one image where things like a "clock", "rolodex", and "phone" sat on your "desk" and wall. Without AR, the room was blank. If you go with that extreme, you place yourself into Virtual reality. My opinion is if you do that, you might as well sidestep AR and go for total VR immersion. Because physical reality scares you.
As for me, I'm seeing where VR finally escapes it's boundaries and your experience is so seamless, you slip in and out via AR without even realizing it. you're in that resturant mentioned earlier, and your friend halfway around the world joins you for a cuppa joe via a full sized avatar, even though they are at another resturant. they see your avatar in their resturant via AR.
How is it done? Webcams, RFID, Bluetooth, GPS, and whatever passes for WiFi by that time. Maybe WiMax. your AR device connected to the web, finds the camera in those resturants, and id's you via RFID or Bluetooth. And even if there is no webcam or even a security cam, all the device really needs minimally is the AR software on a portable device and the web. But then there will be lag.
Ever interact with an avatar in physical reality? Five years, tops.