On May 11, 2023
Mobile AR — displayed through your smartphone screen – isn’t AR’s endgame nor its fully-mature self. But it scales today on the backs of more than 3 billion global smartphones. In that way it’s a stepping stone to AR glasses, warming the world up to that eventual reality.
Mobile AR first entered the public conscience in the summer of 2016 with the debut of Pokémon Go. Users marvelled at wild Digletts popping up from their living room floors and wandered the neighbourhoods at night, sparking global discussions about location-based technology and AR in general. Now, AR has more use cases… and more controversy. How has it evolved since 2016?
1. Social Media
The story had wider implications than the superficiality of beauty vlogging. When face filters become more like deep fakes than minor enhancements, can you trust your own eyes? Many psychologists have expressed concerns about the effects of face filters on body image — especially when people don’t know their social media feed is full of fakery. Time will tell how this wildly popular use for AR affects society.
Some textbooks also contain embedded AR markers with supplementary content. Students simply scan the page with their phones to access a video, soundbite, or even 3D rendering of the topic they’re studying. Chemistry AR apps let students visualise molecules in real-time.
Doctors-to-be can use AR to display a model cadaver on the table in front of them, dissecting it or viewing hidden anatomical structures. Professors can even host multi-user AR sessions that allow the entire class to work on the same cadaver. Overall, schools are successfully implementing new tech like AR, creating more opportunities for students to learn.
And though GGEE was recently discontinued, several other hardware players will fill the void and meet the demand for industrial AR, including Magic Leap 2.
AR glasses also help workers navigate the factory, alert people to hazards and offer real-time feedback to correct errors. They can provide detailed instructions on the screen and help employees identify the tools and parts required for a task. VR goggles have even found a place in training new workers by immersing them in realistic simulations.
Furniture retailers are also leaning into the AR trend. Ikea and Wayfair let customers view items in their homes before buying them. The apps can’t replace the time-honoured tradition of lying on a mattress in the store, but they can take out some of the guesswork.
Although AR has become mainstream, most examples of the technology are for educational or entertainment purposes. That trend will likely change, as more consumers shop online than ever before.
AR Is More Widespread Than Ever