Sony has demonstrated a so-called SmartAR system that offers marker-free augmented reality using object recognition. Rather than relying on 2D barcodes to identify and track movement in 3D space, Sony SmartAR can intelligently spot unique elements - such as posters, magazines or more complex forms, like body outlines - and then overlay computer graphics on top of them, such as when viewed on a smartphone.
In Sony's demonstration, an XPERIA Arc recognized a magazine and offered 3D interaction with it; however, the more ambitious demos overlaid complex UIs on top of maps (as in the screenshot above) as well as providing human identification. According to Sony, the probability matching technology is actually surprisingly CPU-light, which means even portable devices can quickly spot and identify what different objects are.
It's all built on AR and pattern recognition experiments Sony has been carrying out since the days of AIBO and all the way back to 1994 and 2D barcode recognition on VAIO notebooks. No word on when we could expect to see this show up in portable devices at retail, but we would be very surprised if the company wasn't looking at ways to slot the tech into the incoming Sony NGP.