Augmented Reality Moves Outside

Kayla Matthews

2018 Augmented Reality

If you’ve never heard of “Pokémon Go” — or at least never had the concept explained to you — then surely you’ve been living under a rock. Heck, it probably means you’ve been living under hundreds of pounds of rubble, because in July 2016, it had taken the world by storm.

“Pokémon Go” is a mobile game played on modern smartphones. It takes advantage of something called augmented reality, or AR. Using a combination of virtual elements and the device camera, it imprints digital content into the real world.

To play, players chase after and catch digital creatures called Pokémon. Rather than do it in a completely virtual environment, they do it by interacting with the world around them. For example, you can take your phone, walk down the street and catch Pokémon that are supposedly roaming around outside. Of course, this isn’t actually happening — it’s all portrayed through the mobile app.

Pokémon eggs can also be hatched by walking a certain distance in the real world. Essentially, AR bridges the gap between virtual reality and the real one.

It’s a refreshing and innovative move — especially in a world that sees us interacting with our electronics and mobile devices more and more. How many times have you heard warnings or concerns that we spend too much time on our phones as it is?

But “Pokémon Go” and similar games are far from the only viable applications for this technology. Several brands and manufacturers already offer support in new and innovative ways. So what are some ways this technology can be used outside of games and entertainment apps?

1. Product Demonstrations

Since the technology can be used to imprint digital content in the real world, why couldn’t it be used to provide customers with a product or model demonstration? Imagine, for example, shopping for furniture online and using AR to see what a couch or table looks like in your actual living room. You can see the colors, shape, size and much more without ever leaving home.

In this way, companies and retailers could use the technology to provide product demonstrations and concept experiences for upcoming products and or services. Furthermore, it could enhance online shopping, because you don’t exactly get a chance to experience things in person when buying online. How awesome is that?

2. Education and Digital Experiences

Just as you can display Pokémon in the real world, the same is true for all digital content. Holo for Android allows you to display objects and characters around you such as tigers, cartoons and more. When used for games and education, this technology could revolutionize the modern classroom.

Imagine teachers taking their class on a journey to a faraway place, showing them objects, décor and wonders they’ve never seen before. And all of this can be done without ever leaving the school grounds.

Take that a step further and introduce VR experiences for a much more immersive lesson. Instead of seeing different objects or elements, students can actually visit these places as if they were really there.

3. More Informed Driving Experiences

Augmented reality (AR) concepts for the car are just starting to take hold, which means in addition to self-driving vehicles, we may soon have more informed travel experiences. Through unique technology, for Instance, AR can be used to display auto info on the windshield, navigational and GPS data, notifications and alerts and much more.

Imagine a sort of holographic representation laid out before you on the windshield of the roads and distance you should be traveling, traffic info and lots of other helpful stats. It could also effectively kill the idea of texting and driving as you think about it when used in combination with voice commands.

A text or call notification could show up on your windshield, allowing you to take action. You can simply call out a voice command like “answer the phone” or “reply with yes” and the system will handle everything for you.

Apple is working on something just like this, as opposed to an entire self-driving vehicle. They want the system to be autonomous and responsive. Not only would that be super convenient for the drivers of tomorrow, but it would also be safer.

When Is This Happening?

You wouldn’t be silly to look at some of these ideas and think they’re far away, but they’re really not. Apple’s augmented reality tech for self-driving vehicles is only about two to three years away based on expert estimates.

Pokémon Go” already exists, so adapting the technology for use in retail and e-commerce is not going to take all that long. The same is true of adapting the technology for use in educational environments and settings. Of course, with both of these things, developers and programmers will need to build the experiences that users will be involved with. That may take a little longer, even if the technology is here sooner.

But over the course of the next year, we will definitely see the AR and VR markets leap forward.

Will 2018 truly be the year augmented reality moves outside entertainment and games like “Pokémon Go?” Only time will tell, but that’s looking extremely likely.

By Kayla Matthews

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