How is Augmented Reality Going to Change our World?

Augmented Reality (AR) has been around for a couple of years now. The most common scenario for AR was to show, for instance, all the restaurants in your vicinity through the camera of your smartphone. You would get 3D pins on your screen and possibly a route to the selected restaurant. But things have changed recently, mainly with the popularization of Vuforia and the announcement of Microsoft HoloLens.

Igor Trkulja, Software Developer at HTEC Group

Vuforia is a nifty little plugin that I’ve been using with Unity3D and had a great experience working with it. It uses markers, both 2D and 3D, and once the software recognizes the marker using DSP (Digital Signal Processing), you can perform various actions instantly – place something over the marker, trigger an action, pretty much anything that comes to mind. Of course, it requires a device with a camera, most commonly a smartphone. HoloLens, on the other hand, is a device designed to show holograms in your environment. Although Microsoft claims its product provides Mixed Reality (MR), I don’t really see the difference at this point. Sure, you’re not holding your mobile phone in front of your head, but it still behaves in a similar manner.

And while we are all fascinated with this new technology and how cool it all looks, there has to be that one boring guy with an overdeveloped sense of conscience. And that guy should ask a question: “Ok, I see the good sides of this. But what about the bad sides?”. As technology progresses, one day (maybe sooner than we think), we’ll have something that Google Glass was meant to be. We’ll walk around with an AR device on our head and perceive the world around us “enriched” with numerous information.

The Explosion of Data in AR

Let’s start with the most obvious way how companies are making money – ads. VR is not so susceptible to ads (although I heard that someone implemented a service to spam you even inside a VR application), but AR is. Very much so. I hate ads, as most people do. I wouldn’t like ads to jump from around the corner to offer me to buy “a tasty, new beverage.” And since big players like Facebook, Google and Apple are openly working on new AR solutions, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist (or an ad exec) to conclude that one of the first things to be integrated into the everyday AR is going to be the ads.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist (or an ad exec) to conclude that one of the first things to be integrated into the everyday AR is going to be the ads.

 

Since I’ve mentioned Facebook, there’s another concept I would like to share with you as well. Most of us have Facebook accounts, and we share events from our lives with people that are dear to us. Let’s observe the people who “slightly” overuse social media with several dozens of posts and images per day. We are exposed to a large amount of content from these people – where they had lunch and with whom, pages they’ve liked, photos of something interesting they’ve passed by on their way to work, etc. Now, let’s imagine that every post has geo-tagging and all of that is available in AR. We would have an explosion of data in front of our eyes! As you’re passing by a restaurant, you would able to see that your friend had lunch there yesterday or see that your friend posted a Facebook status on the same bridge that you’re crossing at the moment. Both very cool and terrifying at the same moment.

If we would use AR devices regularly almost every object in our surroundings would have some additional information shown somewhere near that object.

What would happen then? We would create a metaverse. By definition, metaverse is “a collective of virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.”

If we would use AR devices regularly (I’m talking 10-15 years from now) almost every object in our surroundings would have some additional information shown somewhere near that object. So basically, each of us would have a virtual world on top of a real world that we live in. Like the definition states, all those virtual worlds combined would form a metaverse. Some are calling this Social Media 2.0. Personally, I find this very invasive and would probably refrain from using it if I don’t have to. Like every great invention, this idea carries a negative side, and it will fall onto regular people to decide on how they want to use this new technology and not allow it to switch from being helpful to becoming harmful gradually.

With all this said, it is more than sure that AR will be the next big thing. Even when I started working with VR and read some articles about HoloLens, I thought of VR as a step towards AR (in some concepts). As an engineer, I’m looking forward to the upcoming events. It’s an excellent opportunity to expand knowledge and be a part of the cutting-edge technology. As a regular person, I’m more curious about how this kind of technology could affect people in their everyday lives. In any case, exciting times are ahead. The same as before, I’ll continue sharing my thoughts about anything interesting concerning VR/AR.

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