Can Augmented Reality follow the same path of Virtual Reality in the 90s?
And what can make the difference
Augmented Reality (AR)is definitely a hot topic, with demonstrations of heavy investments from big names like Facebook, Google and now Apple. Something that came to my mind after this week’s WWDC keynote has to deal with its long term sustainability.
During the keynote, a couple of guys got invited on stage to present their current developments, taking advantage of Apple’s ARKit. The live demo was done on an iPad, while taking advantage of a table in front of him, to showcase how ordinary items like those in your living room become part of the experience, in this case, the game.
Very interesting, appealing, entertaining and novel. However, my girlfriend, in spite of her astonishment with the demo, made me a very interesting question: “Cool, but what do I do with that?”.
A question I considered extremely relevant, especially coming from someone out of the tech world, immediately making me wonder about the sustainability of AR as a gaming platform and if there is any chance it can suffer the same fate as Virtual Reality did in the 90s.
VR in the 90s
Although Virtual Reality (VR)has now became a very hot topic, presenting significant advancements, and most important, grabbing the attention of many industries that feel they can take advantage of it and find new ways to engage with their customer and generate revenue, something indispensable for a technology to take off and move to mass adoption.
But it was not always like that, in case you don’t remember, VR is not new, it has been here before during the 90s, where was also meant to become the future and revolutionised the world. Clearly, didn’t happen.
Expensive, limited content, clunky and expensive hardware, and ultimately far-from-great UX made the audience lose the interest passed the “wow” effect, leading to it’s rapid decline and later disappearance.
Novelty vs. Practicality
Historically, these types of technologies tend to be initially adopted by the gaming industry, taking advantage of the engaging aspect. That’s why when it comes to AR, gaming seems like the natural first step, because of it entertaining and dynamic nature.
However, how much of this can be part of the novelty and how long this effect can last before been replaced by the desire of practicality of a traditional gaming experience?
- What if don’t want to move?
- What if I don’t have a table?
- What if I’m on a plane?
All these aspects have to be taken under consideration in order to create alternative ways to provide the key aspects of the platform, adapting to these possible changes of conduct from the users, instead of trying to impose certain behaviours for them to use it, as the latter don’t tend to be sustainable unless it becomes indispensable.