There are always technology trends helping people do things better, but along with the Internet of Things, automation and artificial intelligence, Augmented Reality could soon changing lives for the better.
The technology has recently been popularized by the Pokemon Go phenomena on smartphones, allowing players to capture the pocket monsters as they roamed their neighborhoods. Mixing graphics and information is where the augmentation comes in, and it is a flexible, emerging technology showing visuals or providing descriptive audio against a real world environment to add context and detail that could soon produce massive benefits both at home and work.
HoloLens Looks Out on the Future
Microsoft has been helping drive the technology forward, and its HoloLens headsets (https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us) are now on the International Space Station, in science and design labs, and will be in homes, perhaps as early as next year.
From playing games of Minecraft in thin air, to helping someone design and style their perfect choice of Volvo car in the showroom, these are just a few early examples of the huge opportunities for Augmented Reality and HoloLens. Meanwhile in space, they use it to control the station’s robot and have used to drive test rovers on Earth.
Soon, instead of looking down at a manual or handbook, engineers could see the instructions in front of them alongside the actual machine they were working on, with interactive indicators and progress bars to show them what to do, and how they are proceeding along a task.
Most pilots and some drivers already use head up displays, but augmented reality can provide more live information to make trips safer. The pilots of the new F-35 fighter with their massively expensive augmented helmets can see huge amounts of detail that would be invisible to previous generations. Give it a while and all these self driving smart cars will use AR to provide all sorts of information to passengers.
Augmenting the Real World
When it comes to design and office work, augmented reality technology can help bring ideas to life in three dimensions. In stores, people could choose styles of furniture, and see how they looked against their own home photos, fitting neatly in 3D where shoppers would like to place them.
Advertisers are looking to have a lot of fun with augmented reality. Posters in bus stops can have QR codes on them. When scanned these can launched augmented apps that can entertain kids while they wait for the bus with games or animations. Adults could learn more about a product, or watch customized adverts, unique to that bus stop.
When the AR become common consumer items, storytelling will become a more interactive experience, and while most gaming efforts are focused on the more immersive augmented reality. Augmented gaming offers many possibilities that anyone can try now with their phone.
As with all technology, augmented reality will get smaller and more powerful. So, in a few years we may not need phones or headsets, but smart contact lenses could provide us with a unique and personalized digital view of the world.