Why Augmented Reality Is the Technology of Future?
What Augmented Reality (AR) has in store for us and how it can alter our way of life.
Imagine this. You walk into your house, and all the walls and ceilings are covered in gold, you have a massive flat-screen TV on the wall, everything is completely clean, the kitchen counters are all granite, everything is really nice. But none of it is real, and you take off your glasses and everything goes back to normal.
In the not-so-distant future, this could be a reality. Where we decorate our homes not with real things, but virtual things. It might sound insane, but I don’t think it’s going to be that far off. Let me explain how and why I think it’s going to happen.
So as you know, virtual reality (VR) has gotten more and more popular these days, whether it’s the top end Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, you hook up to your computer or the kind you exactly use with your phone. And we’re even getting true augmented reality (AR) with Microsoft’s Hololens, which can put opaque holograms into your field of vision.
Right now these technologies are pretty big and clunky like with anything. But despite that, I’m seeing how we might get to a point where EVERYONE uses augmented reality practically all the time. Now, getting to amazing augmented reality will take longer than amazing virtual reality, but in the end, the two will combine into one.
Though I’m getting ahead of myself. Right now we have lots of virtual reality devices, which are pretty incredible. Especially the HTC Vive, which does room-scale tracking where you can use the entire room as a game area. As time goes on, this is only going to get more and more realistic, to the point where you can use your entire house as a play area, and the headsets are completely wireless.
So the fundamental idea behind virtual reality is it completely replaces your surrounding environment. Right now at least, you have to put on these big headsets that cover your eyes, so you can’t see what’s going on around you.
While Augmented reality, like the name, suggests, adds to the actual world, without replacing it altogether. When you put on Hololens or whatever, you still see the room you’re in, but now there are virtual objects as well.
Augmented Reality technology uses the information about the room so these virtual objects can interact with the actual room.
So it’s not that difficult to see how augmented reality might improve over the years.
“ [AR] is the direction that I think is far more interesting and promising — for technology and, really, for humanity. AR is designed to add, enhance the things you do as a human being: Being outside, socializing with other people, shopping, playing, having fun. AR can make all those things better.” — John Hanke (CEO, Niantic Inc.)
Going from only being able to add rudimentary objects to the room, to more realistic and interactive objects, then to useful things like a fully functional virtual TV. Imagine that, instead of having a huge TV that you mount to the wall, you put on a pair of glasses and it puts a virtual TV on the wall instead.
Then with all that, I don’t think it’s hard to visualize when augmented reality can eventually replace anything and everything in your field of view. Not only do you have a virtual TV, but virtual paintings, and virtual wallpaper, virtual computer monitors, whatever. It sounds exceptional and sad at the same time.
Like, you’d be looking at all this outstanding stuff and none of it is real. I can imagine this dystopian future where everyone has the same blank furniture, all the walls and couches and tables are completely white, but you have these contact lenses that make everything look different.
I mean, I doubt that would actually happen, but I could see maybe everyone having a room in their house that’s a designated “virtual room” that could change into whatever, and that would be pretty cool. So you might think, well, that sounds like pure virtual reality at that point. And I guess you’re right, which is a kind of what I meant by virtual and augmented reality combining into one.
Eventually, augmented reality is going to catch up to “virtual reality” headsets so they become obsolete. Once that happens, you’ll have one device that can either project only some stuff in front of you and replacing everything altogether.
But of course, it would still take the actual world into account so that you don’t bump into anything. That’s still a long way off though because virtual reality is so much easier to do. You just take some lenses, and a good screen, and you are into a virtual world. Even phones can do it these days, which should tell you something.
While true augmented reality is not so easy. There aren’t any consumer-grade headsets for AR out there, except for Hololens which is still a developer kit. And even though Hololens has amazing tracking and hologram quality, it’s pretty low resolution and only takes up a tiny fraction of your field of view.
What are the potential applications of Augmented Reality in the future?
- Augmented reality will surely improve our online shopping experience. Like while purchasing furniture, you can hold your phone up to your room, and it will place a virtual piece of furniture in there so you can get an idea of how it would look in your room. We could see that being pretty useful while shopping for clothes, electronic items, jewelry, etc.
- Augmented reality along with virtual reality will bring a major change in the way we educate students. It will help in making the learning process more efficient. Diagrams, stories can be shown to the student and they can interact with them. There are many
researches show that augmented reality will increase productivity and progress in the medical sector. For instance, during a patient consultation, a medical doctor could take a picture of a medical case using the camera AR set. AR will then retrieve similar cases from their records.
- Even when we are walking down the street, we could get information about shops going past us, like reviews, store hours, that sort of thing. Google announced a feature that does all these things with their “Google Lens”. You hold your phone up to some shops or whatever, and it uses things like your phone location, compass, maybe even reading text, to figure out what store you’re looking at. Then it displays a good deal of information. Just not sure that would be any easier than looking it up yourself.
- In the future, maybe there will even be some sort of social aspect to augmented reality such as people can choose to have social media profiles show up above them like we saw in Black Mirror. Personally, that would be pretty creepy and I wouldn’t want that, but you just know that there are plenty of people out there who would do it.
- And what about when you’re just driving down the road, could be lots of uses there. The first thing that comes to mind is GPS directions, where it can tell you exactly what lane to be in or where to turn without taking your eyes off the road. Because it’s all projected right in the road. Though by that time we all might already have self-driving cars, anyway.
If we want to get speculative, we can think about how we might be wearing these augmented reality “glasses”. I think it will be hard to get these to catch on for a few reasons. We saw how Google Glass turned out, and I think a big reason was you looked like an idiot wearing them. Even though they were the latest state-of-the-art tech, people would still just think “what the heck is on your face?” I bet the only way that any type of high-tech glasses would take-off is if they’re either unnoticeable or so ridiculously useful that no one cares what they look like.
Both of which probably won’t happen soon. Sure, people might wear them just while driving, but I doubt it when they’re walking down the street. I guess at some point things will get so advanced that they’ll just be able to fit everything into a contact lens, but we’re nowhere close to that. But you know it will happen, eventually.
You know I wouldn’t get surprised if we have augmented reality contacts within 50 years, easy. If you think about how far we’ve come in the past 50 years, it’s pretty insane. The first microprocessors weren’t made until the 1970s, and now we have the first self-driving cars. And the first iPhone came out just 10 years ago. We know that technology progresses exponentially, so I don’t even know if we can imagine what we’ll get in 50 years.
But like I said, there’s some stuff you know will happen eventually, because it has to. A computer chip that you put in your brain that does augmented reality all the time? Heh, maybe we’re already in the matrix and we do not know. Alright enough of the wild speculation, let’s get back on topic. I do think augmented reality is going to come faster than most people think. I mean Microsoft’s hololens came out of nowhere when Microsoft announced it a few years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see consumer versions hitting the shelves within 5 years, that are many times more powerful than what we have today. So that’s enough crazy talk for now. Think too much about this stuff you’ll go nuts. But I’m sure you guys have lots of thoughts on all this, share it in the comments.