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Augmented reality app shows smokers their damaged lungs

Need a little shock therapy? Sure, you know that smoking is bad for you, but now an augmented reality app offers smokers a glimpse at what their lungs may really look like.

This week blogger Springwise reported on the new app, created by London marketing firm SapientNitro and launched last month. Dubbed AR Lungs, the app employs a smartphone camera or webcam to superimpose digital lungs over the user's image. Input the number of years you've been smoking and the number of cigarettes per day and you'll see what is claimed to be a "medically correct" image of your lungs.

Augmented reality, known as AR, is the latest trend to sweep the digital world, and as its name implies, it adds a virtual layer to real-world objects with the help of image recognition technology enabled by smartphones and tablets - think Iron Man and Minority Report.

Companies such as SapientNitro are one of the first to apply the new technology to health care, and the company admits the "immaturity of the technology has so far restricted AR to the ‘fun' space," said SapientNitro director Bradley Gamage in a release.

However, the company hopes AR Lungs can help raise awareness of the damage of smoking, and experts predict that we'll see many more augmented reality apps in the future to aid doctors in diagnosis, and even possibly help during surgical procedures.