Augmented reality is at least few years away from early adoption by most standards. As technology evolves, AR will replace smartphones as the primary mobile computing platform. But what will drive AR itself?

Early adopters aside, there will be certain apps and features that drive the adoption of augmented reality devices. For virtual reality, these apps are just starting to emerge. Gaming aside, virtual reality has become an amazing place for social networking and telepresence. Apps like VRChat and AltspaceVR have created virtual meeting places and social environments for many VR users.

vrchat_campfire

Another fantastic driver of virtual reality has been architectural and real estate apps. The most obvious example is the IKEA VR Experience (which is available on Steam!). IKEA created this demo to virtualize their IKEA catalog. They’re calling this effort a pilot project, but I expect to see this type of virtual exploration technology to be adopted by many other companies as well.

ikea_vr_experience

So what kind of things will be driving AR?

All signs points to things like the IKEA VR Experience eventually evolving to AR and intelligently overlaying new kitchen features onto your home. But would you really completely replace your smartphone for that one feature? The features that truly drove smartphone adoption were things that made communication and productivity 10x better. Things like full internet browsing and advanced communication apps made smartphones explode.

With augmented reality, the driving features that make users switch to new head-mounted devices will be features that truly make their lives better and more efficient. Apps that truly augment the human experience for the better will drive AR adoption. Experiences like IKEA’s will will be add-ons to an existing ecosystem rather than true industry drivers, but they demonstrate the beginning of the AR and VR revolution.

The ultimate AR drivers will be features that fundamentally change your life.

The feature I’ve always wanted is something to help me find stuff. Whether that’s a screwdriver buried somewhere in the garage, or a book on a shelf somewhere. Augmented reality would enable physical real world items to be easily found and stored. As long as everyone in your household uses the same system, you could find a specific item on a shelf in seconds. Augmented reality also gives us the ability to see advanced item information, such as purchase history and item location history.

finding stuff might be the feature that will drive ar

Going beyond simply finding items in a home, AR could help surgeons perform better, mechanics repair quicker, and scientists run tests more efficiently. With AR, the information finally starts touching the real world instead of simply living inside of glass screens.

The types of features that ultimately make the mainstream drop mobile will be ones that drastically help you live a better life and do better at work. Things like finding books on shelves start translating easily into emergency situations where you need to very quickly find a fire extinguisher or medical kit.

As an early adopter of both AR and VR, I love what IKEA is doing with their VR Experience. It allows us show others the potentially of these new technologies while helping to create new design and interface paradigms for the future of human/computer interaction.


If you’d like to hear more about VR and AR, and how they fundamentally change the user experience, our CEO Tony Bevilacqua will be exploring these questions and more at the Augmented World Expo 2016 conference in Santa Clara. His talk, Exploring User Experience in a Fundamentally Different Medium, is at 12:15pm on June 2nd.

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