Both Apple and Google have focused heavily on AR, Augmented Reality. Apple with ARKit and Google with ARCore. They are essentially the same thing but developed by different companies for different devices.
My first thoughts were, “so what?”, most people will use AR exactly once and that’s only if it comes preinstalled on their phones and then forget about it. I believe that for the average consumer it doesn’t have any significant value. Most people do use AR feature daily on Instagram, Snapchat and even Facebook Messenger. But those are silly faces, something that is hard to monetize, and something that doesn’t benefit productivity, it’s just another silly game. I would put it in the same category as video and entertainment. It is very possible that in the future there will be low power, dedicated chips that allow a phone to use the camera on certain apps to detect objects in the environment and interact with them in a more intuitive way. The user experience could be greatly enhanced if for example you can just point your phone at a TV and it knows to connect to it, or if you show it a DVD and plays netflix on that TV. It can be used to make kids play in a more physical way, by moving around, even if they still look at a screen. Those are some fun applications and useful but if i am home and want entertainment, i am not that worried about an extra second it could take me to search Netflix for that Movie i have on DVD and can’t bother plugging in. Also, i might as well use voice commands with Alexa or Google Assistant.
The real potential is in productivity. If instead of me trying to find with words what an object is or how to install a new soundbar, i get an AR experience that guides me through it. Imagine Google building a large catalog of manuals from tons of companies to work in AR and integrates them into the native camera app. The you open the camera, it detects the device, and shows you all the options on it. An intuitive way to save time and have a better user interface. Then there is work, if you can use it to visualize objects in space, you may be able to sell more furniture or something. Imagine IKEA being able to show you furniture in your home. This is already happening by the way. And indeed this makes sense. I can shop or sunglasses without leaving my house to try them, or even try clothes and makeup. Imagine the benefits for disabled people and those living in remote areas that have to order things online.
But all that requires me to take my phone out, assuming i have a modern, relatively high end phone that support those features and pointing it to an object. It takes a lot of time and unless the experience is perfect at launch, people will prefer the old way. Using their eyes will seem more reliable than an app that is slow or crashes.
Education might be using AR in some class, but still, how many schools will afford those devices, and how many times will they use them? I don’t think it will become very popular.
All that unless they do the one thing they are afraid to do. Release another Google Glass.
Really, imagine a Google Glass, or an Apple Glass that has those AR Cores and Kits built in. It could show you information on anything you look at at any time. It can save power by being activated by voice and can use technologies that have been developed in the last few years that are way cheaper than the original Google Glass. I would instantly buy a 500$ Google Glass that can do that. With a days battery, being able to assist you with AR, with navigation, object recognition, shopping assist, making a list and filling it as you shop, while showing you the total cost in your shopping cart in real time. Imagine going to a class at uni and having it detect and analyze images and text from the powerpoint of your lecturer. Or walking home and having articles displayed in front of you to read without looking at a screen all the time.
I don’t think though that this device is coming soon. And it’s not because the technology isn’t there. It’s mostly because companies know that people’s interest is not there yet. Especially for an early product with imperfections. It might also be a demographic issue. In Europe and the US i don’t think many people would buy such a device. Being tied to gadgets is a bit weird especially in Europe. In parts of Asia on the other hand people would love such technology. I would to and i am waiting for a pair of glasses that can allow me to read while walking and watching videos while washing dishes. I don’t see it as being tied to tech, but as tech enabling me to do more in my busy day.
As always here on Qul Mind i want your opinion in the comments on the site, on Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, anywhere. Let me know what you think, would you buy one of those devices? Would you like AR on your phone? Is there something i forgot? Let me know.
Image: By OyundariZorigtbaatar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47636477