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Augmented Reality is already huge!

While Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality often get conflated, they are very different beasts.

Virtual Reality, takes you out of the current ‘reality’ into a different virtual space. It’s largely a solo activity as each person experiences the ‘reality’ differently. Virtual Reality is going to be an important technology going forward, but more toward gaming, remote presence, museum exhibits (and their like), et al, rather than narrative storytelling.

There may be narrative applications, but the way we consume narrative in movie theaters or in our homes in groups, doesn’t lend itself to the Virtual Reality experience.

Augmented Reality overlays a second ‘reality’ over the current one. The most obvious example is the current Pokemon Go phenomena. These days we live a little out of town, so I didn’t experience the phenomena until last night, where about 100 people sought Pokemon in the Barnsdall Art Park on Hollywood Blvd.

Pokemon players in the park.

Pokemon players in the park.

The hunting continued until the park closed, with the number of people increasing as the night went on. Apparently the park is a location that spawns rare Pokemon. This activity has been going on for three weeks now! That is significantly higher engagement than any current Virtual Reality platform or project.

The ability to add another layer of interest over the visible reality is fascinating. I’m not a Pokemon player, largely because I don’t allocate time for games, but it’s interesting to be the outsider.

Augmented Reality isn’t limited to games. A few years back we attended a performance of Invisible Cities, which I wrote about in Visiting the Intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts. We first experienced it as the outsider, having arrived early for our schedule performance and being on the outside.

We the got issued with headphones and became part of the audience participating in the experience.

So, let’s not think about Augmented Reality just as Pokemon Go, but as a way of overlaying multiple different experiences over the same location and time. Unlike VR, AR is a communal activity, shared among those participating.

 

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1 comment

  • Karsten Schlüter · July 31, 2016 at 4:01 am

    For more than a year, I’m using a photographers app called PHOTOPILLS.
    when demoing to others as an example for AR, people are just stunned: holding my iPad into midair, I see what its cam sees – plus, painted in a track of the sun along the day (or any other day, just visit iTS for features).

    So, I instantly see where sunrise will happen tomorrow, or sunlight gets shadowed by tall buildings the next minutes, or where I have to put my cam in 3 months to catch the sun right in that apple tree …

    My actual position (on the globe) is gathered, where I’m heading to, angles of cam, time/date, (tons of handy meta-data btw 😉 ) … and all I have to worry about is that curved line, calculated ‘live’ into my display.

    Awesome piece of software, drop-dead-easy-to-use, and a best-case example of AR (I read like a salesman, sorry, just an enthusiastic customer)

    Mixing abstract cloud data with real-life is much bigger than that helmet-thingie … I say.
    VR has its commercial opportunities – but in a niché (real estate marketing, technique fairs, rides).

    AR is less spectacular than VR, but more useful, everyday, anyplace, imagine AR Kodak Spots, AR fridge-magnets as notes on your door, outside restaurants, inside public buildings, or AR repair guides, or … list tbc

    AR is not just Pokemon, indeed.
    Although Pokemon is an excellent example for AR, far beyond funny toon characters on my terrace …. AR makes teenagers move, and not only their thumbs – what marvel, what powers! 🙂

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