This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
As mobile technology advances and becomes more entwined with all aspects of daily life, augmented reality (AR) comes closer to full fruition. The concept of AR is the point where the digital and analog worlds mix. Pokémon Go provides a perfect example and may be the trigger to begin the widespread development and adoption of this technology.
In Pokémon Go, players view digital Pokémon imposed on the real world via their mobile device screens. Players must explore the physical world to find locations where Pokémon appear in the digital one. AR represents the melding of the digital reality where the Pokémon are and the analog reality in which we exist.
Pokémon Go is far from the first attempt to introduce AR to the general population. Virtual realities have been an oft-attempted dream in the video game industry, nearly from its inception. Virtual realities differ from augmented ones in that they seek to put a person into a wholly artificial reality. However, VR did lay the groundwork for the concept of melding artificial and actual realities. Aside from the video game industry, other businesses have tried to introduce AR technology to improve user interaction and provide information in real time. The best example of this is Google Glass.
When executed effectively, AR technology could revolutionize our lives. Imagine a world with a constant digital overlay providing information we could otherwise never guess at—the exact distance to an object, estimated wind speeds and directions, precise definitions for the color of an object (I could finally correctly name different shades of colors!), and far more. AR could lead to that. It could also provide us with targeted digital advertisements on real-world signs, call up reviews on businesses we pass, and augment our reality in other ways.
Google Glass came and went (although I think it’s just waiting for the right moment) with barely a ripple, however. Why did a technology with such potential have so little impact?
Making People Comfortable with a Changed Reality
In my opinion, Google Glass wasn’t a runaway success because people fear the scope of change implied by its widespread use. Google Glass and other AR technologies absolutely have the potential to change the world forever, but humans fear the unfamiliar. For this technology to succeed, it must be comfortable, unobtrusive, and widely adopted.
Why is Pokémon Go succeeding as an AR device where Google Glass failed? Because it’s just a game. People are more comfortable with the idea of using AR to do something silly like catching colorful creatures; they don’t worry that a game will significantly change the way they live their lives. Moreover, this type of AR is presented in a familiar format—a mobile device. This is far less intrusive than Google’s approach, and it seems to have an effect on how well the tech has been received.
While catching Pokémon in the AR created by Pokémon Go may not change the world on its own, it is creating an opening for other AR developments. Give people enough time to adjust to the idea of AR in the form of a harmless game, and they’ll be less wary of its use for other things. Eventually, the booming popularity of Pokémon Go will provide an opportunity for Google Glass and other augmented realities to become a part of daily life.
As I watch people use their mobile devices not as screens displaying a wholly separate reality but as tools that integrate our analog world with the digital one, I can’t help but think that AR will become the norm in the near future.