Okay, call me a futurist but I am really excited about where augmented reality is headed. As with many things, the imagined applications of it are endless, but first it’s got to get over some initial hurdles. Some hurdles are with the tech, of course, but another is mass adoption. Not to be confused with virtual reality, which is the complete escape of normal reality into a synthetic fantasy world. Augmented reality is when phones or glasses add things to your actual environment like directional cues, information about a business, or pokemon to catch.
The most widely adopted use of augmented reality was the “Pokemon Go” fad of last year. Even if you didn’t know that was augmented reality, you’ve surely heard about masses of people flocking around catching imaginary monsters that they found in their premises. This caught quite the attention of the media, especially in the case of accidental injuries due to people negligence of actual reality.
Pokemon Go was not the first available augmented reality application, but it was the most heavily adopted and lucrative of the many preceding attempts. The reason I was so excited by the success of Pokemon Go, wasn’t to catch pokemon, but because of the estimated 600 million it made in revenue for developer Niantic Labs.
That kind of money will draw some attention of other developers.
I hate to say it, but where the money is made, the innovation will follow. Google stuck their necks out in 2013 with the prototype of “Google Glass” which was met with both enthusiasm and major skepticism. The mini-product launch was seen as a sort of “Beta test” and a limited product was released with a price tag of $1,500.
I applaud Google for their brave attempt as they may be onto something. Augmented reality in its prime form isn’t viewed through a phone. When paired with wearable tech like glasses a whole new world is opened.
Human beings weren’t meant to be looking down with their necks craned over a device and unaware of their surroundings. This goes against ergonomics, as well as our entire neural infrastructure. In short, we look like idiots glued to our phones all the time.
I understand why we’re attached to them. Having a tool like Google at your side all the time completely changes the way you navigate and solve problems. It can do things like teach the inexperienced chef how to cook a chicken breast, guide the aspiring handyman how to find a stud in a wall, or even help diagnose a rash so it can be self-treated with the right ointment.
And this is precisely why I’m excited about mass development of augmented reality.
I imagine a world where augmented reality helps us break past the barrier of having to reference Google via a phone. Assuming we haven’t moved completely to self-driving cars, imagine if you have car trouble on the road. Instead of having to call a towing company, you pop the hood wearing your augmented reality glasses. The glasses diagnose the engine based on Google’s enormous bank of data, and then the glasses highlight the problem with the engine, as well as what tools you will need and step-by-step instructions to safely fix your car!
Imagine a surgeon experiences a case that he hasn’t encountered before, and there is no time to get the patient to another hospital before the condition worsens. Augmented reality could reference notes from a surgeon who has successfully completed a similar surgery and walk the surgeon through the process saving critical time.
Even for less dramatic applications, like selecting a place to eat or grab a good cup of coffee, augmented reality can get the information to us in real-time, naturally, and fluently.
As more companies explore research and development of augmented reality, and as the technology naturally becomes cheaper and more readily available for everyone, I am extremely excited to see where augmented reality will take us.
Where would you like to see augmented reality apply in your everyday life?
Let’s hear some thoughts!