POST 50
09/05/2014 07:01 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

5 Reasons Why 4D May Be The Best Thing To Ever Happen To Aging

Tetra Images via Getty Images

Just when most of us are still wrapping our heads around Google Glass -- you know, basically wearing your cellphone on your face -- along comes more new technology to challenge our aging selves. This time though, we think mid-lifers might actually want to use a row of happy emojis over this new tech.

Here's the back story: 4D is augmented reality. Think of majorly ramped up 3D (you know, those glasses you wear in the movies that they tried to convince you to wear in your living room to watch 3D movies). Well, 4D goes further. It enriches physical objects with additional media when you view them through a smartphone or tablet camera.

While many companies are doing cool things with augmented reality, the technology is still in its very early stages and pops up primarily in advertising. Daqri, which has developed the free apps Anatomy4D and Elements4D, is trying to take the technology out of the "just for ads and gimmicks" space and give it stronger practical uses in manufacturing, medicine and education. That's all very good news for midlifers, especially those facing aging challenges.

Here are 5 things you can do with this technology (all apps are free, by the way):

Fuel your WebMd imagination.
Yes, we all know that WebMd is the go-to online medical reference preferred by every post50. Every new ache, pain, and rash sends us to the site, which we of course have bookmarked. We type in our symptoms, explore our diseases, and learn just enough to ask our doctor lots of pesky questions. Yes, we all do it.

The Anatomy 4D app now allows us to explore every detail of the human body and all its systems in stunning detail. The app lets users isolate bodily systems: muscular, skeletal, circulatory, and more, to see how each one works together. And should that not be enough, you actually can even see your own heart; just add a wearable heart monitor (and EKG) and you can see your own heart beating within the app. Imagine how annoying a patient you can become with this!

Medical and nursing colleges are already using the app in lieu of cadavers, said a company spokesman. It is spooky good, said a kid we live with.

Help your AP Chemistry student and give your brain a workout.
elements
Sure you stopped being able to help with math homework in 8th grade, but this app holds out hope for chemistry.

Elements 4D is a set of six wooden blocks engraved with the different chemical symbols, accompanied by an app. When the app is aimed at the blocks, a 4D representation of the element appears on your phone or tablet screen. When two blocks with corresponding elements are placed together, they form a chemical compound, instantly bringing the periodic table of elements to life for users.

The other upside, of course, is our own brains. Research shows that activating the part of the brain that’s responsible for spatial awareness –- which augmented reality does –- allows people to learn faster and retain more information. Retain more, forget less; sounds like something we could all use.

Build your dream house and see what you are really getting ahead of time.
DAQRI Blueprint transports the viewer into a polished interactive environment complete with responsive sights and sounds. You can customize the architecture, design, and features of your new dream home. You can change the flooring, add paint colors, and even add a helipad! Perhaps more realistically, you can even see just how high those kitchen cabinets are going to be for you and measure to see if dad's wheelchair will fit through the front door. You get to visually test out all those aging-in-place features.

Helps you buy a car.
Ford and other car manufacturers have created 4D apps (Ford's is aptly called Ford 4D) that let attendees at auto shows interact with new cars. Attendees walk up to the display with the target, scan it with the app, and see details of the car -- inside and out. In one case you could make the car dirty on your phone and then wash it. It's not a huge leap to say that eventually we'll be able to car shop from home with a 4D app -- open the car doors and see the inside, look under the hood, listen to the audio system -- without ever leaving the couch.

Amuse your grandchildren.

Who doesn't love a good magic trick? DAQRI’s Enchantium app gives toy makers the power to add A New Dimension of Play™ to games, toys and toy packaging by connecting them with interactive experiences using DAQRI’s 4D technology.

There is also Lego Connect, which brings "Legos to life" -- and maybe gets them off the carpet once and for all. DAQRI technology is used in the Lego catalogue and with the Lego Connect app, the little flat 1D characters spring to life and move around. Very cool.

And Ruby’s Diner created its “Ruby’s Diner 4D” app with DAQRI to make the kid’s menu interactive. Kids/parents can download the app, scan their menu and be transported to space. It keeps everyone entertained, at least until the burgers arrive.

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