Apture, the semantic contextual search service that you can see in action by highlighting any word or phrase here on ReadWriteWeb, today launched browser extensions that will allow you to dive deep into any topic you discover on almost any page around the web. (Try it out by highlighting this name, for example: Anna Frenkel.)

Called Apture Highlights, the new plug-in is slammed right now at launch and is performing very slowly. (Update: Looking better.) The company should be able to scale up to fit the demand soon, however, and once it's working well it's something you'll definitely want to install. It's like Augmented Reality for browsing the web. See the demo video below.

When I first saw Apture several years ago, it was a service that required publishers to load up linked-pop-up widgets with multimedia of their own choosing. The company has removed that barrier to entry entirely now with this new release. Everything is automated and it's available almost everywhere.

Will users learn to use the service though? It's definitely new behavior to highlight words and phrases in order to learn more about them. It's outside the usual flow of scroll, point and click.

If I told you the world was your oyster, that layers of multimedia explanation and context lay behind every word on the web and are now accessible with a simple flick of the wrist - could you develop a new habit of lifting the covers to look at it?
If we users of the web cannot learn such a small new habit (and I'm honestly not sure we can) even in exchange for access to such an incredible wealth of knowledge, then I'm not sure what that says about the future of software design, interfaces and our networked brains.

If I told you the world was your oyster, that layers of multimedia explanation and context lay behind every word on the web and are now accessible with a simple flick of the wrist - could you develop a new habit of lifting the covers to look at it?

Now's your chance. Apture Highlights is available now for Chrome, Safari and Firefox.