the critical challenge for augmented reality in 2011

If there’s one thing we in the augmented reality community need to do this year, it is to make actually using AR a better experience than looking at screenshots and videos of it.

If you ask most AR experts what the biggest challenge is for mobile AR, you’ll likely hear about technology issues. “Mobile AR won’t be taken seriously until it can do X” where X is something like centimeter-accurate location and camera pose determination, continuous image recognition, 3D object tracking, or perhaps making a band of angels dance on the surface of a contact lens.

I love that stuff too. Advancing the technology is great, and it does make for cool screenshots and demo reels. But I guess I have a different view of what’s most important.

AR is a unique medium because it blends digital content with the physical world. It happens in the places where we experience our lives; in cities, villages, countryside and wilderness, with family and friends and strangers around. It happens in the now, day and night, spring and fall. It engages our senses and taps into our emotions, revealing the invisible stories of the world around us. AR is a medium of living human experience.

In AR, we already have an incredible toolbox of capabilities to work with. Mobile is mainstream, we’re all connected, and data is gushing from every spigot. It’s truly an embarassment of riches.

What the AR community needs most this year is to push the frontiers of creative expression; to engage all of our senses, to embrace narrative and culture and play, to use the world as both a platform and a stage. In 2011, we need to become the best possible storytellers and experience designers for this new physical, digital, experiential medium.

If we can’t do this, none of our technology will matter, except maybe on YouTube.


One Response to “the critical challenge for augmented reality in 2011”

  1. I completely agree.

    Unlike the internet where we can start looking something up and thirty minutes later, (I’m being conservative), we realize we didn’t do what we intended, we got side tracked. I feel AR can help us realize more productive and enjoyable hours of our day by providing us time sensitive content connected with the physical world: connecting my location with a product, land mark, service provider, cafe or hospital.

    I don’t know about you but I have opted to not eat a meal because the layers of choices in certain areas became overwhelming. Having the ability to quickly find a restaurant when hungry, or a hospital in an emergency or the best route to a parking structure in an unfamiliar city are just microscopic features on the horizon of possibilities.

    Looking forward to an expanded reality this year through beneficial technology and cooperative progression.