I have heard a lot of buzz about something called augmented reality (AR). It promises to change the way we see the world via our mobile phones. I just had to find out more.
What is AR anyway? Wikipedia defines it as: a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. An example could be sports game on TV that while we see the live game happening – we have scores, timers or a dancing robot layered on the screen. Turns out that I am familiar with AR. Upon digging a little deeper, specifically in Europe, I discovered a world of promise, opportunity and excitement.
This led me to an augmented reality mobile browser called Layar app. In it I opened a Groupon app in Layar and peered into my mobile screen. It looked like the street I was standing on and then Groupon offers, in my area, began popping up all around me, overlaid on my screen. I was able to see my surroundings, on my phone, through the eyes of Groupon. Among other apps I found was the movie Battle Los Angeles app, where you can find scenes from the movie overlaid on various landmarks. Also an ad for the Netherlands demonstrating how to find real estate, bars and even healthcare providers with the Layar app. This video sums it up perfectly:
Amazing. The ideas and opportunities for AR feel endless. Now when dining with friends instead of going to the same place we always do, I can open Yelp on my phone and it will suggest a variety of options with reviews within my area. Soon I see a world where we can sell real estate, advertise current sales, bar specials and offers our city’s best tourist attractions all through the use of an AR application.
But will it go even further than that? Could we potentially start bringing more than just locations to life? Will we one day be able to correlate this technology with printed materials, similar to the way we can post a QR code and immediately direct users to our website? Perhaps we’ll spend our commutes scanning ads with our phones and watching the commercials on the bus or train ride to work. Maybe we could reinvent direct mail to become an interactive experience. Will I be able to one day send out a resume that when viewed through an AR app reveals my design portfolio right then and there?
I don’t know the answer to that. But at the rate our mobile technology is evolving today I believe it’s possible. I can’t wait to see what our incredibly smart phones have in store for us now.