Categories: Business / Mobile Apps
Augmented reality (AR) is the little brother of virtual reality (VR). And it’s popping up more and more in app development.
If you’re not familiar with it, augmented reality gives reality a boost by overlaying digital information and media across a visual plane in real time. It uses the camera on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or smart glasses, to place virtual objects into the world around you. Basically everything in view of your device becomes a virtual interface.
AR is ideal for mobile devices
AR is tied to your field of view, so it’s best for mobile or wearable devices. With these you can move around and seamlessly interact with your environment. While it can work with TVs and desktops, the cumbersome nature of these devices makes them less ideal for the task.
AR is in virtually every space
AR might have been originally devised for gaming, but it’s become a part of just about every industry you can imagine. Let’s take a look at a few areas where AR is growing.
Sports is a pioneer in AR use. AR has been used for years to project down lines on a football field and apply athlete names and country flags at the Olympics. And it’s only going to grow. Fox Sports’ SkyCam now has AR functionality, for example. And bets are being placed over when we’ll see AR installed in NFL players’ visors to give them an edge over the competition.
Design and engineering
AR reduces time, trial-and-error and physical labor across design, architecture and engineering. Designers can virtually place furniture and design objects using apps like DecoLabs. Meanwhile architects and engineers can use AR to reveal underground pipes or cables, or to create composite views of technical drawings.
AR democratizes the arts by putting it all around us. AR functionality at the Echo Park gallery in LA allows customers to view major works of art remotely, while apps such as Lapse dynamically overlay art across the streetscapes of Miami.
Construction and manufacturing
AR is also making it into construction and manufacturing. Scope AR and Caterpillar have just launched CAT LiveShARe, an augmented reality-based live video calling platform used to troubleshoot, undertake inspections or train staff remotely.
AR and mobile app development
AR has great potential for apps in retail, education, design, manufacturing, construction, gaming and more. But as with any technology, “just because” isn’t a powerful enough reason to go the AR route for app development. AR can be costly to develop and support. And given its relative newness, it may not yet be as intuitive for users as standard app experiences. So make sure that you have a business case for integrating AR into your app development journey.
Similarly, AR shouldn’t be the end goal of your app. You should use AR to facilitate a simple and actionable experience – not be the experience itself. That’s a job for VR, not AR!