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It's pretty clear that Apple are investing heavily into AR, and by all accounts ARKit 2 is a fantastic API to work with. Unfortunately I've not yet managed to get very excited about AR myself, mainly due to the fact that today we must view the AR world through a tiny screen held in our hands. It's awkward, and it looks weird when you do it.

I know rumours of some kind of Apple glasses being in the works are rife, and of course if that turns out to be true it could change things significantly. Certainly all the investment into ARKit makes perfect sense at that point! Anyway, I don't really like to speculate on hardware here, so let me get to my point! πŸ˜€

I'm not that excited about current AR, but I have been keeping an eye out for projects that could change my mind about it. I'm really interested in how we get from where AR is now as a largely "ignored by the consumer" technology, to something that your average person might consider wearing a device on their face for. That's not going to happen overnight. Human history is made up of small steps towards bigger goals. Take a look at electric cars for example. Hybrids were first, then Tesla, then the rest of the market followed and we're heading towards the electric car becoming truly mainstream. Google glass was clearly too early, the equivalent of an AR G-Wiz so we need some steps towards making the technology mainstream before the eye implants appear. πŸ˜€

So I want to highlight some of the work that Nathan Gitter has been doing recently. He's actually made me think "I'd use that!" a couple of times. The two examples I'm thinking of are this graffiti time travel idea, and this art history one.

What both of these ideas have in common is that they augment specific things, at specific locations in the physical world. Of course, you're not going to reach the top of today's App Store charts with something like this, but they both stood out to me in a way that making a newspaper come to life didn't. We already have technology that is far better for consuming news and media, the web.

I think that being in the physical location and then deciding to use AR is why I find these interesting. I wouldn't go and see the graffiti wall, or that painting so I could use AR, I'd use AR to augment my view on what I had already gone to see.

I'm not dropping everything to work on an AR app, but I do wonder if augmenting specific physical objects is one of the steps we'll need to bring mainstream users with us to whatever the future holds and prevent the Apple AR glasses (or whatever they are) from being just another fad that didn't work out.

Dave Verwer

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