Augmented Reality in the App World
What is Augmented (Mediated) Reality
Augmented reality comes off sounding a bit science fiction-ish, and why should it not. At the mere mention of augmented reality my mind envisions Terminator vision and the StarTrek Hollo Deck. Augmented reality, or mediated reality as it is also known, is nothing terrifying or Skynet-esque. In fact, augmented reality is as simple as your perception of reality being enhanced by computer generated input, such as: videos, images or text.
You see this every day in commercials, computer graphics being added into scenes that the actors interact with. In movies special effects are added in via whatever amazing, high-tech programs are used to do so. We are no longer surprised or amazed by such things and we come to expect it. A wizard casts a spell and a burst of fire shoots from his wand. The latest CGI movies and games are close to looking lifelike. So, the next logical step, bring the CGI from the screen into the real world.
Augmented Reality Applications
To further lay your fears to rest, here is a list of the uses of augmented reality applications. Most are currently in use in some form or another.
Mapping/ Location/ Travel - New to a city or on vacation? There are several tour guide applications available for your smartphone. Once activated, the app uses your phones camera to overlay images, text and other information over the cityscape on your phone. Say you're in NYC visiting relatives. Turn on the application and point it down the street. The application will lay text over buildings giving their history, perhaps pinpoint restaurant locations, as well as give traffic and other data you may need to aid you in your travel or day to day life.
Product Shopping - Eyeing that new lime green couch you saw in IKEA but not sure how it's going to look in your studio apartment? No fear, there are several augmented applications that allow you to view furniture in your own home; choose the couch, color, chair and even fabric. Hold up your phone to that empty floor space and open the app. Once again, working through your phones camera the app will place that rendered couch in the space allowing you to see how it fits in your house without having to guess.
Outdoors - Need to find the range or distance away of an object, perhaps chart your course to it through GPS? Several applications allow you to chart hiking trails on a map and then show you your path ahead with while you're hiking it. Don't know which way to turn? Hold up your phone and your footpath is plotted for you all the way to the summit!
Games - The ever popular video game is on top of this new technology as well. Whether it be a fighting game, racing or even just a basketball shooter, several game titles place their characters and objects into your world! Have your favorite brawler fight on your couch or at the local city park on the benches and water fountains. the characters can even mount the obstacles.
What this means for your business
By now, if you're a business owner, you're probably thinking that you'll add your business to the applications available. If someone is visiting your town then you'll pull up. Maybe a nice logo with a little description and reviews? But! You could put yourself on a whole other level. Not only does augmented reality allow you to do all these cool things. They allow you to socialize and leave your mark on the augmented world. Think of it as digital graffiti. Scan objects such as street art or even a magazine article. Now if someone else with the same application scans that street painting or the same magazine advertisement they'll get your message and comments. Think of it like a comment section for real life. Someone in Paris could scan the same Vogue article you did and comment on it. Or, if you're a local store, get customer feedback from your local newspaper ad without the hassle email forms. You can even create your own augmented app that pulls up yourmenu items when people hover their camera over your store sign or logo!
The Future of Augmented Reality
Some of you may have seen the Google Glass video. If you haven't, welcome to the future. Augmented reality seems like it's going to be the next driving force in advertisement. Instead of paying for a fullpage ad, imagine paying for an inch by inch QR code like image that, when hovered over with a phone camera, pulls up a full-screen advertisement. Getting new business cards? Instead of a junky QR code use the digital grafitti ability and attach your resume or portfolio. Although this technology is in its infancy, expect huge leaps in the near future.