Thinking about the future of augmented reality…
Augmented reality (including mixed/hybrid reality which we bundle under AR in this post) is without a doubt one of the most interesting technologies out there at the moment. Sure there is a lot of (un-necessary) hype around AR, and yes there are still many limitations in the technology that pose obstacles to a broader adoption. For example, using mobile device based AR applications, such as games, during a sunny day is not fun at all, and existing AR/VR headsets are way too bulky. Furthermore, the digital objects within AR experiences are often unstable, and quite unrealistic. It seems that the digital reality cannot yet keep up with the complexities of the real one.
Despite its current nascence, with so much attention from the big technology players, AR is destined to mature fast. We can already envision a world where the technology integrates tightly with the physical reality, and is simpler to control, and has become a natural part of our everyday lives. The final break through will surely happen only once AR has become fully “hands-free”, i.e. it can be easily embedded into wearables like glasses or otherwise seamlessly integrated with the human perception.
Persistent digital objects and entities, continuous streams of dynamic real-time information, and a digital reality layered on top of our physical world sound all fascinating. Only time will tell to what extent the technology ends up augmenting our perception of the world.
Image now, how many real-world objects could be digitalized and layered on to our surroundings? Paper ads, TVs, traffic lights, pretty much anything static with purpose to simply convey messages or enable banal interactions. Think about the savings that can be achieved, in terms of environmental load and raw materials, if we were able to convert these static objects into a persistent layer of digital information and made easily accessible as needed or required.
In a world where digital seamlessly meets physical you might expect to find things such as virtual pets so lifelike and interactive they start replacing domestic animals, and virtual companions with whom the user can interact in a multitude of ways (i.e. Alexa in AR). These types of AI-enabled virtual entities might be there to make peoples’ lives happier or to provide real-time information to the user, for example guidance to assembling something painfully complex as an IKEA chair 😉
There is a huge potential in different industry-specific AR applications, e.g.:
- AR enhanced tourism enabling you to travel anywhere like a local by having the wisdom of the crowd at your hands in every situation. On the other hand, Virtual Reality experiences might actually reduce the desire to travel physically abroad to enjoy for example art and culture.
- As physical retailing is being devoured by ecommerce, a highly convenient AR experience relates to enabling customers to explore products virtually, and for example try out clothes before purchasing.
- AR based user interfaces that free us from physical devices like computers, and expand the remit of our interactions with tools, data, and information. We suggest you to take a close look at what Microsoft is doing with its HoloLens, just imagine where the technology will take us in next five years.
Though it still seems distant, we are definitely thinking of different ways to prepare for a world where AR is not anymore chained to the user’s mobile phone, and we think you should too. Let us know what you think.
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