"In real life, we see objects block other objects all the time," said Rachel Metz at Technology Review. "It helps us believe that the things in front of us are actually there." But for developers working on augmented reality technology, mixing virtual objects with real ones is one of the biggest challenges in "achieving realism." So far, advances have been limited: Current AR experiences can place digital objects only in front of real ones.

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Researchers at the University of Arizona believe they've had a breakthrough, developing a prototype AR display that can "show a virtual image that both blocks the real-world objects sitting behind it and can itself be blocked by other real-world objects placed in front of it." They say the display "is kind of like a telescope system," with lenses that control light "pixel by pixel" to manipulate what the eyes see. As a result, digital images can be nestled "into real life way more accurately."