While virtual reality (VR) has risen to prominence in the last few years, its technological cousin, augmented reality (AR), was busy being perfected outside of the spotlight.
The birth of the metaverse — a fully immersive VR experience in which avatars can interact and game — was a paradigm-shifting innovation that understandably demanded the attention of the tech world.
Throw in the allure of NFTs available for purchase within the metaverse and you have a technology that invites developers and media outlets to inundate consumers with an onslaught of buzzwords.
All the while, augmented reality has been bumbling along beside its celebrity cousin, taking one step forward and two steps back.
Despite its ungraceful debut, progress has been made with the technology. In 2022, social media users are integrating AR into their lives without consciously recognizing it.
Snapchat and Instagram filters that change a person’s face from happy to sad, or superimpose a pair of bunny ears atop a user’s head are early forms of AR.
Pokemon Go is perhaps the most well-known use of AR. In the game, players search for virtual Pokemon in real locations. When a pokemon has been found, it appears on the app, superimposed in front of the real surroundings picked up by the phone’s camera.
The Seamless Transition Into Our Lives
AR technologies used in Snapchat filters and Pokemon Go are entertaining and moderately impressive, but they’re just the first step in a greater paradigm shift. The lens through which we view the world is changing, in a metaphorical and literal sense.
Humans and technology have become inseparable. We live in a time where we would be lost without instant access to news, information and entertainment. Imagine trying to navigate to a new restaurant without a GPS giving traffic updates in real-time on the dashboard. Imagine then having to split a check and calculate a tip without a calculator available at your fingertips. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
The progression from a handheld smart device to an AR experience that guides the user through the world is a logical one. AR contact lenses, glasses, or even a Neuralink-style chip implanted in the brain could project the virtual world with which we are already integrated onto our physical reality.
Walking down the street, users would be able to access someone’s social media profiles simply by pointing at them. Ads would pop up in your field of vision when you stare at a cafe or a clothing store for more than three seconds.
More practical applications include apps that calculate the trajectory of a falling object or the measurements of a doorframe.
The technology housed within AR of the near future can encompass everything from AI and facial recognition, to the power and knowledge of the mighty internet itself. And here’s the kicker: its fundamentally revolutionary nature will catapult it far beyond the status of VR. Think Elizabeth Olsen and her formerly famous twin sisters.
VR will likely always have a place as an immersive gaming and online social experience. AR, on the other hand, is on the path to changing how we perceive reality every minute of every day.