With all the fuss surrounding virtual reality, it can be easy to miss the chance to get excited over augmented reality. There are some stark differences between the two, although they serve the same function of creating an immersive digital experience in the user. But AR is in a state of constant development, and we have seen it come a long way from simple video overlays on apps like SnapChat. Nowadays it has been seamlessly integrated into countless apps, to the point where the ‘wow-factor’ has worn off, leaving us expecting something new to take its place.
The Microsoft HoloLens is one of the first devices to take exclusive control of AR functionality, showcasing it for use with gaming and entertainment, and even using it for military applications where soldiers are given a heads-up display, a tactical overview and video communication right through their helmets.
In the home, games like Minecraft can be played literally on the dining-room table, while on the streets, players head out in the dozens to catch hidden Pokémons all over the world. Augmented reality is here, it has been for a while, and it will likely stay as we move forward through the immersive digital age.
Challenges Holding AR Back
Though as engaging as these platforms are, they aren’t rising in popularity at the rate that consumers would really like, and there are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, the tech isn’t exactly mobile. As it stands, it is clunky and complicated, making it best used in limited environments like in the home or at gaming shops. This is a bit counter-intuitive however, since the ace up AR’s sleeve is its ability to incorporate your surrounding environment, and the more environment it has to work with, the more fun it is for the user. Sadly, at the moment, its potential is being wasted due to its lack of portability.
The second challenge is the price. Products like the Microsoft HoloLens are incredibly expensive at the moment; and it is largely due to the fact that proceeds go back into research and development. As more people buy these products and fund their manufacturers, however, we can expect the price to drop as development of more cost-effective designs continues. This limits AR application largely to mobile devices like smart phones since they are widely available and affordable, but disallows the true potential of augmented reality to be met… at least for now.
Powering these devices will be a challenge as well, since they often carry some fairly demanding specs, similar to those of a computer or laptop. Considering that they are designed to be portable, designing battery packs that are both efficient and lightweight is a constant design challenge for manufacturers, especially for devices that the user is meant to wear.
What We Can Expect in the Future
The most exciting thing about AR is that it represents the foundational phase for a technology which we will likely see integrated into our lives as the years go on, if the abovementioned challenges are met correctly.
As portability increases, we will start to see AR platforms that are smaller and more compact; and they will be able to do this without sacrificing on performance. This means that we could enjoy the tech utilising nothing but some contact lenses or an implant; but these developments are likely many years off still.
As we develop our capacity for power and charging, these devices will be able to run indefinitely and could be charged through kinetic movement or solar technology. This means that batteries will enjoy a longer lifespan while hardware can be developed to push through their elevated needs for power.
Human Evolution and Our Reliance on Tech
Perhaps one of the most anticipated changes that this will bring to the human race, is the way in which we interact with and retain information. Traditionally, we are a storytelling race, where individuals are expected to remember data accrued throughout their lives. As AR tech becomes integrated with ourselves and our communities, there will be less of a need to retain information, while being able to look at it critically will become an essential skill. This will have profound implications on education, business, research and general intelligence; and only a purist will tell you that the outcomes might be negative.
Many theoretical physicists such as Professor Michio Kaku believe that this will bring forth the next part of human evolution, where the real and digital worlds become seamlessly integrated at all times, creating something of a digital hive-mind where human experience is stored and accessed at will by users all over the globe, who share in the availability of all information.
It sounds like science fiction, but it wasn’t that long ago that so too did the personal computer, smart-phone and even the microwave. As farfetched as it may seem at present, these types of technologies have a way of sneaking into society, finding a warm spot, and growing with us as they develop.
Take Advantage of the Tech Today
The way things are going, augmented reality is fast becoming an important medium in our lives, and the smartest amongst us are looking at ways to leverage the tech to their own benefit. If you are looking to design an app for your company’s marketing strategy, why not use a developer that knows their way around augmented reality, and can use it in your build? Contact a representative from Applord today, or visit our website to learn more about our business.