These days we can see more and more apps boasting with a feature referred to as AR. AR or augmented reality allows us to place virtual objects of all sorts into the real world. The catch, however, is that this objects are only visible through a device that supports AR e.g. a modern smartphone. This alone might sound alluring to some, but to convince the rest we only need to point out that creating a virtual object and delivering it to an audience is a lot easier and cheaper than producing a bunch of real life replicas.
As mentioned in the beginning the number of apps advertising their AR features grows by the minute. Why this is happening is no mystery. AR has, after all, been alive for several decades in popular science-fiction, but made its transition from the imaginative world to the real one only recently. That perhaps, is the main reason why publishers these days so quickly point out the presence of AR in their products. Not only because of the unique solution AR provides but more interestingly due to the wow factor generated by the long awaited transition mentioned earlier.
Pokemon GO – the record breaking app of 2016 for example heavily advertised on their AR feature, where players could, with the help of their smartphone, seemingly interact with virtual creatures positioned in the real world. Yet the entirety of the game could be experienced without ever turning on the AR feature, with the creatures appearing in a virtual setting, which was for many the preferred way of playing, since the battery consumption was naturally lower.
In 2017 Snapchat also shared their take on AR with a snapchat-filter that positioned an animated dancing hotdog on a real life surface. This feature became an instant hit all across the internet eventually adopting the status of a meme and becoming so popular, that it got it’s very own Wikipedia article. Taking the dancing hotdogs fame aside, AR was yet again merely an added feature, since each user could still use the app without ever encountering the hotdog.
That is not to say that AR has not made its debut as a core feature around which unique solutions are built. AirMeasure, for example, is an AR tape measure app, utilising the precise sensors found in modern phones to calculate and display the length between points on a surface with remarkable precision. Another app with AR at the core of its solution is Amikasa. It allows the users to place virtual furniture in their room, enabling them to see what the room might look like furnished with a particular set of furniture.
In conclusion we can see Augmented Reality taking a lot of the same steps as the modern internet. Just like people were getting used to getting the answer to almost any question at the click of a button, so are people now getting used to the melding of virtual and actual reality. In both cases, swarms of dreamers and innovators were and are imagining an entirely different world shaped by this technology. Finally it does not matter how promising a technology might look, the vast majority of people will at first use it in the most unpredictable way. Be it looking at pictures of funny cats in the case of internet, or looking at dancing hotdogs in the case of AR.