Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Augmented Reality has seen a wide range of uses since its advent in the 1960s. The merging of one’s current reality with virtually enhanced reality, through AR technology, has the potential to inform and enchant users.
AR technology has been tested in a wide range of applications: training in medical procedures, complex machinery repair, annotation and visualization, entertainment, robot path planning, navigation and logistic planning. The potential to layer data through a lens, while observing reality, gives developers the ability to provide a variety of informational details, depending on the motivations of the user and the developer.
The use of this technology to disrupt and thrust users into an experience has already been developed as apps for existing smart mobile devices. Existing applications are finding effective uses of AR for their user bases: promoting activism and engagement around important issues (#STOPTRAFFICKING2016), enhancing marketing engagement with potential customers (Vivino), turning the world into a game of seek and catch (Pokemon Go) and fascinating students with virtual models to generate greater connection and exploration of learning materials (StarChart).
Public interest in the technology will continue to grow with meaningful and niche applications of its power and with such developments, endless possibilities can be imagined. Goldman Sachs predicts the value of AR and VR technology could reach 80 billion by 2025.
This predicted uptake of Augmented Reality has the potential to place users in a position of power over the products and services they choose in a new way. Programmable data can be used to tell the untold stories of these products and services. With AR we could visually display information which helps to make more informed decisions about the actions we choose, and thereby potentially change unconscious patterns. Augmented Reality has the potential to visualize data in order to build an authentic understanding of a user’s reality, beyond what is tangible in our physical world. Taking this opportunity to build empathic cues into the system could have ramifications for how we relate to each other and the planet.
Although the technological and ethical challenges persist to affect societies adoption of certain manifestations of this technology, the promise AR offers for how we interact with our computing devices remains undeniable and leads me to many questions.
What data can be used to better connect humans to the realities of their physical world? What data stories go untold for lack of medium and/or interest from those who create and consume? How might we use the rise of Augmented Reality to connect more authentically and empathically to the world around us, by giving voice to the realities of our existence through data stories? Can the use of virtually displayed data stories allow us to create deeper connections? Can the stories of what we consume and participate in, provide more accurate informational feedback, allowing us to make smarter choices for our world? Is AR the opportunity to provide a new form of societal education and training? What are the consequences of such a function?
If you're in this space and interested in how collaborative design strategy might answer some of these questions, please reach out! I'd love to collaborate.