In all of the Augmented Reality related apps and games that I've found and looked into, they've all had something in common (other than being AR, of course) - they're all layered.
None of these games have taken elements of the real world and brought them to life via AR like I am trying to do with my project, which is... a little scary, but at the same time kinda cool in a sense that I seem to be doing something that's at least a bit original!
So why is it that these games & apps all layer onto the world, rather than using what is already provided?
The closest thing to using real world elements is Augment - it can detect a 'tracker' in the real world, and then projects something digital onto that. For my undergraduate research I managed to trick the app into projecting onto an actual object rather than a picture tracker, which took some time and was a bit tempermental but it still worked! It's still not quite taking something in the real world and bringing it to life, but it seems to be as close as we can get for the moment.
Kyle Samani of readwrite.com describes AR as something that "should imply not just showing information on the
screen, but actually layering the information on top of reality in a
spatially intelligent way." and it's the use of the word 'layering' that further proves that this is what people perceive AR as - something to layer ontop of the world rather than something to integrate with it. Personally I think this is limiting the potential of AR as having it integrate with real life objects could bring things to life in new and fascinating ways, so it will be interesting to see if devs stick with layering, or if the potential for real life objects to be brought into AR will be explored.
That being said, Kyle Samani also mentioned that "The
first wave of companies are building “glue a phone to your face”
applications. These apps are the low-hanging fruit. There is
tremendously more value that still waiting to be unleashed." which suggests that there is room for new innovation and ways to use AR that haven't been previously explored.