Augmented Reality- A Vision of the Future
As its name suggests, augmented reality ‘augments’ our reality. Typically augmented reality (AR) superimposes computer-generated images/graphics over your current view of the real world, forming a composite image and allowing for a whole host of new visual information to be presented, in real time. Couple this with gestures, voice commands and physical actions, and AR has the potential to truly revolutionise our daily interactions with technology, turning ordinary surfaces into interactive multi-media platforms. So just where is AR up to today, and how will it augment our lives in the future?
Augmented Reality- Current Applications
Whilst many people believed virtual reality (VR) would be the next defining technology to enter our lives, its functions are limited in that VR creates a physical barrier between the user and the real world. AR, on the other hand, is designed to integrate seamlessly into our daily lives and activities, to improve the quality and rate of information we are presented with.
The most prolific example of AR in entertainment/gaming was rolled out with the launch of Pokemon Go– a smartphone app which took in the users surroundings and superimposed characters over them. This composite view (displaying the real world surroundings and the games characters) allowed users to interact with their smartphones in a way that had not been seen on as this grand scale.
Similarly, IKEA and Amazon have both put out their own AR app, allowing you to ‘drag and drop’ furniture and homewares into your home before purchasing them. And whilst this technology is (affordably) limited to smartphone apps at the moment, placing objects on the floor near you -whether furniture or animated characters- is only a brief glimpse into the potential of AR. With more than $3 billion invested in AR and VR in 2017, this technology is poised to change our lives for the better.
Wearable AR Devices
Although still in development, a number of companies are racing to complete a consumer friendly, affordable, and wearable AR device, including Microsoft, Magic Leap, and ODG. These companies, among others, are creating AR headsets (glasses) that seamlessly blend the real world with live information and updates, such as in-car navigation systems.
“A key capability of AR [glasses] — compared to phones — is the ability to give people contextually relevant information automatically, integrated into their perception of the physical world,” — Dr. Franziska Roesner, University of Washington
The potential of AR devices, such as the Microsoft HoloLense, is far reaching. For example, you can already pin apps to surfaces, and they will stay there until you interact with them again. Like pinning the daily weather to your bathroom mirror, a cooking app to your fridge, or Netflix to your bedroom wall. With gestures and voice commands, you can also use AR headsets in gaming and entertainment, to view your worlds in 3D, or leave your characters around for someone else to find!
“This is so much bigger than just a device, it’s about a whole new computing medium that will transform how we interact with and discover information and engage with people and objects in the world around us.”
— Ralph Osterhout, Founder and CEO, Osterhout Design Group
So Why Isnt Everyone Wearing an AR Headset?
Unfortunately, the technology required to truly augment our lives just isn’t available yet. Although products like the Microsoft HoloLense are amazing, and in the hands of software developers, they also aren’t commercially available, or even affordable for that matter.
There are a number of considerations and technological developments that need to happen before AR will truly impact our everyday lives. These include (but are not limited to) improvements in:
- Battery life- the HoloLense battery currently lasts 4 hours
- Design- Whilst a wrap-around headset is OK for testing, it is impractical as an every day wearable item.
- Price point for mass adoption
- Weight- current wearable devices are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time
- The way data is captured, sent and received, including sensors.
- Adaptable displays, that can account for changes in lighting, view and projections, without impairing ordinary vision.
- The devices ability to respond, and adapt to, gestures and voice commands efficiently.
Although these may appear to be barriers to adoption, Moore’s law, which states our computing power doubles every 2 years or so, would suggest that it is only a matter of time before the technology meets our expectations. Then it will just be a matter of ensuring that there is enough content/applications to justify the technologies adoption.
ECOMI Gears up for an Augmented Future
ECOMI has recognised and acknowledged the role that AR technology will play in our lives, and is already taking steps to ensure it is able to utilise AR to its fullest potential. Version one of ECOMI Collect– ECOMI’s digital collectables platform- already has the capabilities to display your non-fungible tokens in augmented reality. It does this by recognising your ECOMI Secure Wallet and allowing you to scroll through your digital collectables.
This video is just a demo, and the full version will have greater capabilities, including the option to change your characters appearance, scenes, and add some rudimentary actions/gestures. ECOMI also recognises that one of the innate desires of a collector is the ability to show off your collection and share it with friends. Therefore the ECOMI Collect Dapp will also feature full social sharing capabilities, and allow you to display your digital collectables in your showroom!
ECOMI has also formed a number of strategic partnerships with gaming and development companies, such as Big Red Button Entertainment and Pixion Games. These were formed with ECOMI Collect and AR in mind, to fully utilise the capabilities of this technology, namely:
- Allowing for your collectables to be used in gaming
- Increasing the interactions we have with these collectables. AR will allow for these collectables to be moved, and interacted with, rather than just displayed through your phone. See the first 10 seconds of the video below as an example!
- Using ECOMI Collect in conjunction with wearable AR, to create augmented gaming realities, 3 dimensional collectables, and integrate these technologies into our every day lives. Imagine being able to battle collectables with your friends in front of your eyes thanks to AR!
It is safe to say that augmented reality is only just starting to affect our reality, and will soon become an imperative part of our daily lives. ECOMI have recognised this potential, and in revolutionising our idea of collectables (by moving them to a digital platform) the company is also poised to revolutionise our interactions and capabilities with them.