The hypothesis of augmented reality is this: lay an application or a game over a real world object in order to enhance the experience. Many potential uses for augmented reality are still on the drawing board. And we’re still really in the baby steps stage:
The arrival of smartphones, tablets, and head-worn computers like Google Glass—and improvements in the tracking technology that bedeviled Caudell and Mizell—are making augmented reality more useful, but it’s still far from commonplace because handheld gadgets aren’t that immersive and smart glasses are still pricey and awkward-looking.
But fashion and price don’t matter to companies eager for technologies to help their employees work more efficiently. The defense contractor Raytheon and the electronics maker Mitsubishi Electric, among other large companies, have been trying augmented reality in the workplace and out in the field. “Some companies are thinking, ‘Look, this is interesting enough, we’ll take some bets on it, we believe there’s a good chance. At least we want to have a first mover’s advantage compared to our competitors,’” says Soulaiman Itani, founder and CEO of Atheer Labs, which is making 3-D virtual reality software and glasses. The Mountain View, California-based company is working on some small pilot tests with companies—he won’t say which ones—to try augmented reality in hospitals, on construction sites, and in factories.
The thing is, this is WAY more than just an enhanced experience. This is taking real world work and enhancing people’s ability to get that work done. It could let a surgeon monitor a patient’s vital signs while they’re performing surgery. Or let a farmer measure soil, weather and crop conditions while surveying a field. Or help a delivery truck driver find their way through a maze of complicated streets with a head’s up display that literally has an overlay of where the next turns are coming.