Whereas virtual reality creates a virtual world for users to explore, augmented reality works by complementing or “augmenting” the real world to help the user complete a task or provide them with information.
In 2013, the first AR glass prototypes (Google Glass) went out to early adopters, complete with a slick logo and widely disseminated ad campaign. At the time, they were all over tech news: unfortunately, the response from the public was mixed.
Some welcomed the new product, but others were derisory: critics soon spawned the nickname ‘Glassholes’. Ultimately, consumer Glass units stopped being produced in 2015. Nonetheless, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon for smart glasses.
They look better now.
Superficial it may be – but AR glasses are now starting to look more and more like, well, actual glasses. This was a problem with marketing Google Glass to consumers (as opposed to commercial users): the first model had a bulky camera in the front.
The smart glasses of 2020 still aren’t as sleek as your standard Ray-Bans yet, but this might change shortly: Facebook is collaborating with Ray-Ban on a pair that may enter the market next year.
The cost is going down.
The Vuzix Blade AR glasses cost less than $1000: a little more than you’d pay for a VR setup, but since they’re designed for all-day wear, the cost is justifiable for those who want them. Less fully-featured makes, such as the Snap Spectacles, are under $500. Simply put, it’s now much easier to justify the cost if you want to give smart glasses a go.
The influence of time
When Glass first arrived on the scene, there were immediate concerns about privacy (recording through your glasses?) and advertising (overlaying ads on your field of vision every day?) Since then, however, the idea of wearable tech has gone from somewhat fringe to near-ubiquitous: who doesn’t know someone who wears a Fitbit?
Due to this, many ethical issues related to wearables have been hashed out – at least to some degree. For example, Google has insisted it will never use Fitbit data to target ads to users at the behest of EU antitrust laws.
3 Industries that could benefit the most from Augmented Reality
With augmented reality now branching out into other sectors, we’ll take a closer look at three industries that could or indeed have seen the benefits of using this technology.
With AR already being touted as the next big thing in the healthcare sector, its popularity in helping people to rehabilitate themselves on a psychological level has never been higher.
For people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), AR has been able to help with weaning them away from their fears. Soldiers remain a prime example of people with PTSD who have been helped by AR by allowing them to adapt to sudden loud noises in a structured environment so that they no longer become a trigger for the traumatic experiences they suffered in the past.
Education and training
The training and education sectors are also seeing the benefits of AR. The possibilities are almost infinite, with the technology being able to aid people with smart glasses to perform unfamiliar tasks without constant supervision. In schools, AR can be used to make learning easier, more fun and interactive, and help students remain focused during lessons.
Building and construction
AR in the construction industry can provide many benefits, from increasing productivity to training and identifying issues with building a building before construction work begins, which can help save time and money. Used in conjunction with smart glasses, Augmented Reality can help with instructions regarding certain construction methods across various trades.
The bottom line
AR delivers countless benefits, and as technology improves, more industry sectors will begin to see the advantages for themselves. It won’t be too long before Augmented Reality becomes a part of our everyday lives. As more specialised designs are produced, including glasses for cyclists, doctors and businesses, they may well find a niche and enter the market for good.