This week was the augmented reality show as part of The Tech Expo show in London. I went down to see a bit about what other people and companies are using augmented reality for. Here are some of my observations of the conference:
- Virtual Reality (VR) is going to be the next big thing, with full augmented reality after that. Outdoor VR with google cardboard is interesting
- People are starting to talk more about context than location
- BAE is doing some interesting mixed reality work
Outdoor Virtual Reality
Immersive experiences is what is driving virtual reality at the moment. Being able to produce immersive experiences with devices like the Oculus Rift or Samsung gear are going to provide big opportunities.
One of the main objections and blockers for mainstream acceptance for virtual reality is the fact it is a solitary experience. This is ideal for computer games, however to get wider adoption and integration into the modern digital landscape we expect social interaction and more natural shared experiences. One talk entitled outdoor VR stood out as being a little different from the rest. Sander Veenhof had some interesting thoughts on outdoor VR: connecting VR to physical movement. He had done some Google Cardboard based projects: being guided around a city by a person and a VR headset which had evolved into cyborg dating and vr4two.com.
Context is the next big thing
Everything we do at Linknode is about location, but perhaps we should be talking about context. Context is providing relevant information to the user: it is partially based on their location, but it also includes other things depending on the users interests and history. E.g. If you purchase something on an e-commerce site, adverts for similar product follow you around the web. However you have just purchased a pair, you are not interested in purchasing another one. Context is important to not alienate your users.
Mixed Reality vs Augmented reality
BAE presented some of the work they have been doing to bring augmented reality to warfare. They had an interesting spin on Augmented Reality vs Mixed reality. Their definition is that Augmented Reality is when photons of light reach the viewer without being processed by a computer. This provides “natural resolution” of the eye, there is no disortion or pixelation due to the camera or display. While Mixed Reality is where a camera feed is processed by a computer before being displayed to the user.
The advantage of augmented reality is that nothing down samples the camera feed – in a heads up display in a fighter jet, you need as much detail as possible with the real word.
To sum up the day, I came away with the impression that the quality of the screen and pixel sizes will be sorted soon (next 2 to 5 years). After that we will start thinking about creating more cutting edge immersive experiences using touch and smell – playing a zombie game where the player can smell the damp musty smell of the warehouse.