Augmented reality may seem like a far off distant technology meant for gamers and fad chasers like the recent Pokeman Go sensation, but it’s coming to a phone near you sooner than you think. In fact, if you’re not familiar with the term augmented reality also known as AR, there’s a good chance you’ve already been using the technology without even realizing it – think Snapchat face filters, or Instagram selfie filters. These are examples of tech that overlays a computer-generated image on your view of the world or in the case of selfies, your face. Augmented reality can also put computer generated objects in your field of view, such as Pokeman Go does.
While available today on a few phones enabled with Google’s Tango platform, this technology is set to take off in part, because the coming new iPhone (rumored for release in September) will also feature it prominently. Predictions are the AR app market will grow to more than 2 billion app downloads in the next five years, according to a report by Juniper Research.
And developers are rushing to be part of the first wave of this new app gold rush. Earlier this year Apple released AR Kit, which is the development platform that allows developers to test and create new apps and there’s a ton of new applications coming that will be a combination of fun and functional as well a improve our lives at home and at work.
The potential applications for different industries are vast, below you’ll find some of the coolest new demos and get a feel for how AR will be impacting our experiences in the very near future.
Gap is developing an app called dressing room that will let you see what clothes look like without having to try them on. You enter your measurements and the app then displays the clothes in different sizes such as S, M or L or even multiple sizes side by side. In the future, you can imagine an app that performs an actual body scan so you can also see yourself as you would actually fit in the clothes.
Health and Beauty
Curious about experimenting with a new make-up look? Maybe you want to try a daring new shade of lipstick or try a smokey cat eye… Well, you can now experiment without having to get your make brushes out. With Sephora Virtual Artist, a feature of Sephora’s mobile app, you simply upload a selfie and you can start playing around with a variety of looks. Explore everything from contouring to highlighting and more. The app also provides handy tutorials for those of us challenged in the makeup application process.
Ever go shopping for a new couch and just have no idea how it will look in your living room. Problem solved! There’s several apps that allow you to play with furniture and place it in specific parts of your house, even taking true room measurements so you can be sure it will fit.
Ikea has been working on augmented reality apps for a few years. You can take scans of their physical printed catalog and place items from the catalog where ever you’d like in your home to see what how the pieces would interact with your existing home decor.
This handy tape measure app will be able to measure dimensions through your phone simply by pointing your phone at the objects or space that needs to be measured. No need to fiddle with real tape measure or get someone to help you with the longer measurements by holding down one end.
Also Lowe’s has been getting into the game with home improvement apps that let you virtually remodel your house by testing different fixtures out with different tones. Lowe’s vision app built on tango also lets you scan specific areas of your home and interact with a variety of Lowe’s products placing those products virtually in your space and enabling you to play with the configurations.
Imagine being able to study the solar system in your own living room and in 3d, learning the planets and studying their rotations. This demo puts our solar system right in front of you. Great for kids or adults fascinated with astronomy!
We’ve barely scratched the surface delving into all of the new innovations we will see with the coming AR wave and many experts believe that Augmented Reality will be the gateway technology that gets consumers ready for even more immersive AR experiences delivered through new glasses (both Apple and Facebook are rumored to be developing) as well as mixed and virtual reality applications that will have you transported into other worlds and experiences. Personally, I’m excited to explore experiences like traveling, which with virtual technology get us as close to being in exotic locations as possible, seeing landmarks, exploring cities and far off destinations.
Stay tuned for more on this topic as new apps roll out in a multitude of categories.