Augmented Reality: Designing The Future Of Daily Life

One of the most interesting new arenas for inventive visual design, one that has enormous potential, is the field of augmented reality (AR). 

If you’re not familiar with that term let me explain… 

Augmented reality presents a real time direct view of the physical world around us seamlessly combined with computer generated imagery. 

Simple versions of AR have been creeping into our visual media for years. A common example we see here in the United States is the artificial first down line that appears when we’re watching American football on television. 

With technology’s advance AR has moved from the realm of professional special effects into the every day world. Our current consumer electronics now have the processing power to bring complex, interactive AR to everyone’s fingertips. And today the most common way to experience these hybrid blended visuals is by using an AR app on a smartphone or tablet. 

Let’s look at a few examples…

This past year Pokemon Go, an AR based game, was an international viral sensation. Players with the app installed on their phone or tablet could scan the streets and public spaces around them in search of Pokemon characters only they could see. Other popular apps with a similar focus put dinosaurs or zombies in the viewer’s real world space.

augmented reality on a smart phone

augmented reality with a dinosaur

Tourists and travelers often need assistance when navigating the unfamiliar world around them. AR apps can help make that space much more accessible by guiding users through an unfamiliar airport, directing them to shops and cafes, and by translating street signs.

augmented reality on a smart phone

augmented reality on a smart phone

augmented reality on a smart phone

Smartify is an AR app that transforms a smartphone into an art museum docent. With this app viewers get a sophisticated tour of the collections in some of the most prestigious museums around the world. Here’s a brief video showing what that looks like.

For those of you reading this in e-mail click here to see the video.

The Swedish furniture store IKEA has an AR app that allows customers who are browsing the company’s website to see what select pieces of furniture will look like in their home before they make the purchase.

augmented reality on a smart phone

As you can see there is a nearly limitless range of possibilities for this emerging technology. School textbooks, user manuals, retail fashion sales, architectural and urban planning, medical training… The list just goes on and on.

It’s an exciting new arena for designers. And because so much of the action takes place on smartphones and tablets, both Apple and Google have taken the initiative in creating AR developer kits specific to their operating systems. They have also published best practice guidelines that encourage developers to create the most effective apps possible. You can see their introductions to AR here and here.

On a final note, the following is a short video prepared by Dent Reality, a London based AR developer. It shows how AR could become a regular feature to help with your everyday routines such as grocery shopping.

For those of you reading this in e-mail click here to see the video.

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