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AR Will Change the Way We Interact With Our Gadgets

We are about to experience the next major user interface advance thanks to augmented and virtual reality.

By Tim Bajarin

For years, the only available interface for computer enthusiasts was the keyboard. In 1984, the Mac brought with it the graphical user interface and the mouse, which took a little getting used to for us old-timers.

Today, all our gadgets use some form of graphical user interface, navigated via mouse, pen, or touch. But we are about to experience the next major user interface advance thanks to augmented and virtual reality, where voice and gestures are poised to drive a lot of new innovation in hardware and software.

However, this will not happen overnight. As Fortune reports, only 6 percent of Americans will own a VR headset this year, driving about $556 million in US sales.

While this is a good start and serves as an introduction of VR and AR to the high end of the tech market, it will take some time before the trend really takes off. As this chart shows, even by 2022 only 44 percent will be using some form of VR headset or mixed-reality solution.

The reality is, most people will not want to use goggles as part of their broad or overall interaction with computers. Instead, things like 3D monitors and VR- or AR-based interfaces will be where we see the most innovation on the PC, while AR may be the killer app with mobile devices.

In fact, I think Apple is taking aim specifically at AR, perhaps integrating it into iOS as early as next fall with the iPhone 8. Tim Cook has said multiple times now that he thinks AR (not VR) will have the most impact and broad acceptance within next-generation mobile computing.

Although Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR, Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive, and even Google’s Daydream will blaze an early VR trail, I think Apple has its eye on AR. Apple pioneered the mouse and touch screen, and it would not surprise me if it planned to do the same with AR. If it got this right on the iPhone, AR use would surely skyrocket.

This is not to say Apple will be the only one trying to push the envelope in AR; just look at apps like Pokemon Go. But the real breakthrough will be to add sensors that capture hand motions above the screen to play games and work with apps, or use AI-based voice commands and gestures to navigate these AR apps on a smartphone.

Although the mouse and keyboard and even touch has allowed us to be very productive when it comes to interacting with our various personal computers, it is time to take these user interfaces up a notch. I believe adding AR and VR user interfaces to our digital device experiences in the next evolution in interface design.

Read more: “The Best VR (Virtual Reality) Headsets of 2016

Originally published at www.pcmag.com.



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