A year ago, VR was all the rage; now it is AR, in particular, mobile AR. The Big 5 Tech companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft) — plus AR app pioneer Snap — are all putting their considerable weight behind developing consumer AR applications, hardware devices, and developer toolkits.
For example, Amazon’s Amazon AR View feature inside its main iOS app enables shoppers to preview products in their intended context, so that you can preview how a toaster would look on your own kitchen counter. Apple offers the depth-measuring iPhone X, whose front-facing depth sensor enables apps like Snapchat to much more realistically add 3D masks to a user’s face than is feasible on regular phones. Google’s ARCore toolkit enables developers to build versatile Android AR apps.
And the list goes on, not only brought to market by the Big 5, but also by myriad AR app developers, hardware vendors, and toolkit companies.
What makes AR work
Consumers get it: They engage with AR apps that are entertaining (The Meow! app lets you capture photos and videos of yourself along with your virtual pet);instructional (The Dance Reality app places recommended virtual footprints on the floor in front of you); informative (Google Lens lets you point your phone’s camera at a menu in a foreign language, and it will automatically shows the translation in your favorite language); or even addictive (remember Pokémon Go?).
All you need to do is view your physical surroundings through your smartphone’s camera and use a specific AR app. There’s no need to buy an expensive or intrusive set of AR glasses, let alone an AR headset or an AR projection system — although the day will come when…
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