Personal computing is no longer defined by one activity; rather, it’s a range of activities completed on a variety of connected devices. Augmented reality is the next major installment in the evolution of technology, and it has the potential to fundamentally change the way we think about personal computing.
Virtual reality (VR) devices, such as Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift, are already being used in the marketplace. VR can completely immerse a user in a digital world, often leaving both the auditory and visual experience of the real world behind. Augmented reality (AR) works slightly differently.
Instead of completely replacing one environment with another, AR devices provide an overlay of the digital world within the real world. Google Glass was one of the first devices to experiment with the concept of AR, but it isn’t as ubiquitous as smartphones or tablets. Still, you can experience AR just by watching television. For example, news programs overlay statistics and information over live footage, and sports broadcasters do the same thing during games.
I’ve discussed in the past how AR is set to revolutionize our work environments and in more practical ways than have even been depicted in popular science fiction movies like Star Wars, Minority Report, and Star Trek. Microsoft is one notable developer of the technology, using its HoloLens headset to place three-dimensional holograms into the real world, much like the previously mentioned films. While the device isn’t on the market yet, it recently won a design award for its innovation, quality, and functionality.
Other AR developers are working on creating holographic images without the aid of a headset. Currently, the technology can only accommodate small images, but the advancement opens the door for larger scaled use in devices that have historically only transmitted 2D information. Imagine receiving a kind of voicemail where you can physically see an individual as a 3D hologram; it could happen sooner than you think.
According to market projections, the mobile augmented reality (MAR) app market may reach $3.9 billion by 2020, which indicates we’re close to seeing augmented reality integrate into our daily activities.
Mobility is one primary factor that sets AR apart from VR. AR doesn’t remove a user from his or her environment but instead enhances that environment with digital information. When compared with VR, AR appears to offer more in terms of everyday use and experience. In terms of personal computing, the technology could change the way you interact with a recipe while cooking dinner or give you a new way to organize your home, yard, or office.
While the technology hasn’t been completely developed, some of the potential benefits of using AR devices include:
As with most technologies, we don’t know all the ramifications of what will happen when AR becomes more accessible and developers begin competitively pursing AR compatible apps. From gaming to arranging business meetings, AR could either complement or completely replace our current concept of personal computing.
Until the technology hits the consumer market, developers must work with some key concerns to prevent a Google Glass-like situation. Those working on headset-based technologies must create glasses or goggles that fit daily life. No one wants to wear a bulky device, and the system must offer an intuitive, seamless experience to replace or supplement current personal computing patterns.
VR and AR will both likely affect the way we game and interact in the future, although AR could meet our needs for socialization and digital interactions in daily life. Until developers iron out the kinks in AR technology, we can manage our expectations and explore the possibilities of the future. The real questions are: How much will AR adoption change the way we use devices on a daily basis? And what is the future of content creation and connectivity if we move to a predominantly visual digital experience?
This article was brought to you in part by HP, Inc. Opinions and thoughts are those of the author.