Prepare yourself, people. The days of augmented reality are coming – but not in the way you’d expect. Earlier this year we told you about virtual reality headset company Oculus Rift, which debuted its new technology by taking you on a virtual stroll through a supermarket. Yup, the supermarket. With literally endless possibilities for this sort of device, this might seem like a letdown — you already shop for food all the time, you don’t need a VR headset to imagine what that looks like. But here’s the thing: Sure, augmented reality can and has been used to live out a sort of ultimate fantasy escape, but what we’re seeing now is a shift in the technology towards a much more functional purpose (anybody remember the Pinlight AR headset we recently shared?)

Since our last report, Oculus Rift released its headset, and not so surprisingly, people are already starting to build upon the impressive device. Case and point: This new project, led by researcher Renato F. Salas-Moreno. Moreno has attached an RGB-D camera to the top of the Oculus Rift headset — in layman’s terms, that’s a full color picture camera that can measure the contours of a room to create a 3-D map. Bare surfaces like walls, stair steps or the floor are treated like blank canvases, onto which a digital image can be projected. In the demo video we see a Pinterest board on one side of the kitchen cabinet and a Facebook feed on the other.

Moreno’s Oculus Rift also lets you change the color of things like carpet or walls. Guess you can skip that paint job you and your hubby have been arguing over. If he wants the living room to be navy blue and lime green, all he has to do is pop these babies on and you’re both happy. And if you want to fulfill your childhood fantasy of having hot pink flooring for a day, you go for it girl!

But bringing it back to the functional element, Fast Design Co.’s piece on the project offers some interesting possibilities that could come into play here: Recipes could be projected anywhere in your kitchen or an oven might show its temperature or timer in huge text that could be read from halfway across the room.

This all sounds very exciting and like something straight out of a sci-fi novel, but don’t whip out your checkbooks quite yet. As it is currently, this project is just an idea in need of some more research and refinement. From the looks of the demo video, the technology is not exactly seamless yet. While still totally impressive that it’s even possible, the image you see through the headset looks more like a quick scribble in Paint than a professional Photoshop job.

We’re all for technological innovations, but on a grander scale this augmented reality boom has us a little worried for our sanity. Do we really need to wear goofy looking googles so that we can see our Facebook feed on one wall and our Twitter feed on another? Obviously there is some real potential here, but let’s not forget about the power of some good old fashioned face time every now and again.

What’s your stance on virtual reality? Do you think its advancement will be helpful or harmful?

(feature photovia Oculus Rift)