Technology is unlike any other science in the modernised world; its constant forward march has carried us from the phonograph to the wide range of products available today. In the past decade, we’ve made almost unbelievable leaps and bounds into the realms of technological possibility, our creations seldom dreamed of in years past. Still, the question on everyone’s mind remains the same: what’s next? As our tech and our knowledge evolve, so too do our digital horizons.
Virtual reality, or VR, has swept the nation with its promises of new worlds to explore and lives to create. The two most popular devices, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, are some of the newest technology out there, and undoubtedly on everyone’s Christmas lists. However, there’s a stepping stone we must take before we take the leap into full VR, and it goes by the name of augmented reality. The fact of the matter is that the technology and platforms required to make VR commonplace just aren’t there yet. For now, it’s simply too expensive for most users to own a rig — the headgear required to view virtual realities — and there isn’t enough pull to make it reachable to the masses.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality, or AR, is a subset of virtual reality that’s catching on quickly with app developers in business and gaming alike. According to LiveScience.com, augmented reality uses modern technological advances to superimpose images, data, sound and/or information onto the world we see. Popular examples of the technology include the Google Glass and game apps such as Pokémon Go! and Zombies, Run!, both of which have proved wildly successful in their respective fields of gaming.
Rather than a complete visual replacement, this type of modifier allows the user to interact with the real world, keeping them halfway in reality and away from walls.
Potential for Marketing and Business
As it’s much easier to augment reality than it is to create a virtual one, this in-between technology has powerful potential in everyday life. AR apps, games and other downloadable content are easily created for smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers. Thus, it’s a more likely candidate for widespread use among businesses and other potential marketers. Imagine, an info-bubble popping up when you drive through a new city, or a glance at a virtual business card. It’s possible, even probable, that wearables will continue to grow in usability and popularity in the coming years; even now, who would be caught dead without a smartphone? Augmented reality has thousands of applications in the “real world,” and as it rises in popularity, developers are certain to come up with new ideas that change the way we “see” the world.
With the success of Pokémon Go!, dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of games have been created using AR technology, and it’s no surprise that the gaming world and AR get on like a house on fire. Augmented reality has stirred up a revolution in the worlds of gaming and app creation, and our smartphones will never be the same. Some of its earliest applications have brought users outside into the “real” world, connecting with others and encouraging health. For example, the previously mentioned Zombies, Run! convinces players that they’re running through a zombie apocalypse with the clever use of recorded audio, storytelling and zombie groans and moans. Players must run for their lives when they “hear” a hoard.
Augmented reality is changing the game when it comes to devices, wearables, app development and the acquisition of information as a whole in our virtual world. More dependable and easier to design than a full virtual reality, augmented reality is the ideal merging of what we see and what we want to see. Keep an eye out for new developments in AR; the digital age is much closer than you’d think.