Augmented reality (AR) has slowly proven its merit on smartphones, with apps enabling people to layer information and graphics over a view of their real world. But it’s the technology’s ability to provide utility in real-world experiences that will bring it front and center. That’s why AR is becoming a hot topic among marketers. While still an emerging technology, many major corporate players are executing successful AR campaigns that move beyond catchy 3-D graphics to deliver ROI by connecting to people’s social networks and providing clear incentives to purchase. And with the advent of Google Glass and other wearable devices, the seminal promise of AR as a touchstone technology allowing social networks, geo-based tracking, and the semantic web to converge is becoming all the more real.
This larger picture of Augmented Reality shows the promise of the Outernet – the 24/7 virtual world we’ll all be able to access via technology that may even become part of our bodies. RFID chips implanted in our skin could provide easy medical assistance or security protection, smartphones shrunk to contact lenses will cover our eyes for exposure to omnipresent data. While the technology of Augmented Reality ushers in massive issues of privacy, legality, and cultural change, it also will provide a literal window to a world most people don’t know exists.
Citing the growing market sizes of augmented reality and wearable technology, we'll look at a history of Augmented Reality from its early days, then walk through a spectrum of AR that builds a usability/utility use case for the technology, to what the future holds in store.