When augmented reality first came to mobile apps — primarily through the Pokémon GO game — it looked as if a dominant new technology had emerged. AR figured to be the future of mobile apps, and there was rampant speculation about what exactly that future would look like.
Several years later, it now feels like AR in the mobile medium fizzled out, at least somewhat. There are some interesting applications and fun games, but AR is nothing like the dominant force; many thought it would become. At the same time, though, it isn’t done developing. Whether through continued improvement on smartphones or by way of the smart, AR-capable glasses Tech Crunch reports numerous tech companies developing, this technology is likely going to have something of a resurgence.
Here are a few of the app functions we’d like to see if and when that resurgence materializes….
Look at some of the most awaited Android games of 2020, and you’ll actually see some lingering enthusiasm for AR. Most notably, versions of the ever-popular Minecraft that employ AR can certainly get people excited. At the same time, though, AR gaming has not been quite as impressive as we once thought it would be. Experiences are limited, creativity has been a little bit of a disappointment, and the category just hasn’t grown like it might have. The potential for innovative and exciting AR games remains, though, and if we do see a second wave of AR apps for mobile devices (or glasses), we’d hope for some better games.
This is an idea that isn’t discussed often, but it’s one that makes a great deal of sense. When you think about how you read content or consume media online, you may realize that you’ve probably drifted toward catchier displays or more interactive material. Lists, slideshows, narrated videos, and the like have largely taken the place of longer articles or dense blocks of text. AR may well bring about the next big changes in this evolution of content presentation — either by presenting text in a 3D fashion, by flashing images or video clips to go along with narration or captions, or anything similar. It’s tough to say exactly what this might end up looking like, but particularly when AR glasses come around, we’d expect to see some engaging content readers and storytelling devices.
Electrical engineering is likely to become a more popular job (and hobby) in the coming years simply because our world is going to grow even more device-centric. The Internet of Things, smart home tech, and more are going to bring about thousands upon thousands of electrical projects, and it’s a good bet many will take an interest in how they work or how to build them independently. This is actually doable today through programs that allow you to design your own printed circuit boards and have them made to fit into functioning devices. There’s a learning curve, but as Altium’s overview of free PCB viewers makes clear, the necessary tools are available and accessible. With any computer or tablet, you can begin to engineer your own circuit boards. One reason this works reasonably well, though, is that the viewers show designs in interactive 3D formats — which would be even more useful and interesting in augmented reality. Thus, if, in fact, electrical engineering becomes more of a hobby, the emergence of AR engineering programs is likely.
For this point, we were inspired by the Hongkiat’s framing of AR as the “next big social experience.” In its article, Hongkiat actually pointed to a lot of different capabilities we might gain when AR glasses come about — such as assistance with retail shopping or seamless navigation. But the piece also defined AR in smart glasses as the “ultimate social media tool” for interacting and sharing experiences, and it’s tough to argue with the idea. There are numerous ways in which AR glasses could allow us to blend our day-to-day activity with social contact or social sharing, such that the line between online socialization and in-person activity truly begins to blend.
On a somewhat more playful note, we also hope to see more scavenger hunts and things of this nature materializing in AR. The truly wonderful thing about Pokémon GO is that rather than causing users to bury themselves in their devices, it actually inspired people to get outside, meet up in public, and explore together. It was an extraordinary thing to witness, but it hasn’t really been replicated (even if a few subsequent apps and games have tried). Still, AR has proven capable of gamifying the world though scavenger hunt-like activity, and we’d love to see more innovation in this strange but exciting category.
Saeed Ashif Ahmed is a Blogger who has a keen interest in how emerging technology can help the world become a more just, equitable, and kind place. He enjoys interviewing CEOs of tech startups asking them what they are doing to bring greater opportunity and equity to our society.