Simon and Tony at mashupevents ran an evening of debate and discussion on Augmented Reality on Thursday night.
I hadn’t planned to go to this evening because I didn’t think I would find much of interest but a couple of days ago I helped to facilitate an AGI Forsesight study (more on that soon) in which the subject of AR came up and I was struck by the opportunity for AR to supercede cartographic displays in presenting a lot of information in close up situations.
The impression that I got from the evangelists of AR was of a collection of technologies that had come together in the new iPhone and Android platforms which enabled location sensitive information feeds over the current camera view. Maybe it is AR but it didn’t appear to be in anyway context sensitive or particularly intelligent. I don’t think I want to walk around London holding my phone up and reading tweets from people who were nearby in the last hour or so nor do I want to navigate to the nearest tube by following little arrows in the view of my camera. As some wag pointed out loads of people walking round London with their eyes glued to their phone displays is a recipe for disaster – either collision with lamp posts (painful) or vehicles (worse)!
What got people excited was a description of this aid to a BMW service engineer, shame we didn’t have the video at the event.
There will be real value in AR when for example it can be used to present underground asset info (pipes and cables) to someone about to start digging up the road. Prediction – we will see something like this within 5 years.
There were a lot of people asking whether AR was just the new wow factor and someone pointed out that wow was just what marketing campaigns needed. Good point.
The demo that blew all the others away was from Total Immersion who are doing some very neat things. Worth a look and definitely wow.