Thank you once again, Google.
A month ago, I was fretting over the semantic fate of augmented reality, a technology which I believe passionately has critical implications for the way we learn, play, do business, and interact with other people. The first month of AR’s life as a tech buzzword had involved it being co-opted to describe what I call pseudo-AR. Esquire‘s AR issue and the toy line for Avatar aren’t true AR; they’re more like at-home greenscreening using fiduciary markers.
Was AR in danger of being identified with a bunch of limited scope parlor tricks, things that only scratch the surface of what this technology is really about? This is a dangerous place for an emerging technology, so I devoted the first part of my talk to Social Media Club Boston last month to disambiguating true AR — the stuff that overlays digital information on your perception of the real world — from pseudo-AR.
Well, I guess I needn’t have worried. Sure, there were already some dynamite true AR apps out there, like Super Pages, Layar, and Wikitude World Browser, but, well… they weren’t made by Google. The conversation was being dominated by the gimmickmongers — until Goggles reared its Googly head and set the conversation back on course. Those who’ve already used Goggles, which I’ll be talking about more in a coming post, might point out that it lacks some of the real time qualities of other AR apps. That said, the essence of true AR is there: a device, in this case your Android phone, takes your perceptions and enhances them with data from the Net.
So, now that we all know that AR is not about pointing your web cam at an action figure and watching it flit around on your computer screen, I can concentrate on writing about why it’s so important and how it will change our lives.
This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of posts about the state of augmented reality technology and likely future developments.