Augmented Reality Is Here, But Have You Noticed?
Augmented reality has arrived thanks to some creative developers and your smartphone camera.
By Tim Bajarin
Augmented reality is here, whether you like it or not. But while Facebook, Google, Amazon, or Apple might build core experiences around the smartphone camera, a few existing apps are already leaders in the field.
First, Snapchat. You can’t scroll through a social media feed without seeing one of Snapchat’s ubiquitous face filters, which are really just AR overlays. They recognize aspects of my face and react digitally, in real time, as I talk, move, or make facial expressions. The magic happens locally on the device and on Snapchat’s back-end, but most Snapchat fans probably don’t think about the “how” part of the equation; it’s just fun.
Next is Memoji from Lightricks, which turns any selfie into an animated emoji. Lightricks is also behind Facetune, which uses machine learning to let people completely change how they look in the app — you can give yourself a new nose, chin, cheeks, teeth, etc.
Then there’s Faceapp, which can modify a photo to make the person featured in it smile, change genders, look older, or look younger. While not perfect, it’s another great example of an AR experience in disguise.
These are a few simple examples, but you see where this can go. Retail outlets are already experimenting with AR to sell products, including Ikea, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Looking to remodel? Take a picture of a room in your house, load up the hardware stores’ apps, and test different paint colors in real time.
These experiences won’t be sold or positioned as “augmented reality.” Instead, their value will sneak up on consumers, and adoption will be quite natural. The commonality is that consumers’ first experiences with AR will happen through the smartphone camera. As these cameras become more capable and do full-depth sensing and 3D scanning of physical space, developers and services providers will up the ante.
Read more: “Augmented Ability: Assistive Tech Gets Smart”
Originally published at www.pcmag.com.