Inside the Big Picture for Augmented Reality

Immersive experiences in a layered world are coming. What can you expect?

For AR developers and technology practitioners like us, it can be easy to forget just how far the tech has come along over the decades, especially when we’ve always been around the building blocks of that technology, as well as their extensions.

We’ve talked about their role in pioneering breakthroughs in aeronautics and surgical medicine from the last millennium. We’ve acknowledged the roles played by cheaper and more ubiquitous consumer products in lowering the entry barriers to AR (Today, $499 is all you need now to experience full-fledged AR with nReal’s AR smartglasses, for example). We’ve credited the booming digital gaming industry for catalyzing research and development in the field.

That sort of bird’s eye view is useful in seeing the big picture — the incredible potential of how a physical world could be infinitely augmented by immersive experiences. The possibilities that are opened up by the mere encouragement of the use of the human senses, blurring and almost erasing the lines between reality and virtuality.

We’ve even put numbers down to those potentials for numerical visualization. Maybe the future of AR is clear from the fact that 60% of smartphones are already supporting AR and high-speed 5G networks will soon make short work of heavy and complex 3D models in real time. Or perhaps the speed of AR uptake will be driven by the projections of a USD 13 billion AR ad revenue in 2022 or the USD 285 billion AR gaming market in 2023.

However we put it, there’s no stopping AR now. Yes, it could be that AR is still in a buzz phase that hasn’t relented since Pokemon Go or the Walking Dead or Harry Potter apps made otherwise physically-reluctant people jump fences to catch imaginary animals… but it’s here, and it’s not going anywhere. If anything, it will only get bigger sooner than even we’re prepared for.

It’s hard for us to look away from the emotional aspects of what makes AR so cool and fun and exciting, because it was this very passion that drove us to create OVR, and it is this very passion that we believe people will embrace once they understand it for themselves.

Imagine having the ability to endlessly create and to share with others how we would have liked to see our world. And in return, the ability to experience for ourselves how others viewed their world. That itself to us, is worth devoting our energies to create.

Yet at the same time, we’re also developers and coders and programmers, so our priorities — hand-in-hand with our efforts in helping to build and grow a community to nurture the AR ecosystem together — are to develop and produce the code that will shape this solution. If you will, we must set about putting down the first of many tens of thousands of brush strokes that will fill up the AR canvas of the future.

The primers are already here. You already know them. Just think Instagram or Facebook facial filters, or the newer ones with Snapchat and Google where you can drag and drop cartoons, accessories and furniture on virtually any surface… or face…

But those are a shadow of that AR technologies can offer to mainstream audiences.

The intensive work being developed now is to find an easy and seamless way for digital graphics to merge with and augment the physical surroundings of the user, while behaving and adjusting consistently with how that surrounding changes.

You can see some clues of this in the OVR app, like how the objects change their color tone to match your room’s ambience, or how the shadows even on the OVR Assistant’s face can adjust to the lighting around you so you can see clearer. Some aren’t even obvious, the better AR apps won’t allow physical objects to co-exist in the same space as digital ones.

But very soon, objects generated by computers will become more interactive, responding to our senses. How hard or soft we touch, the way our voice sounds, the gestures we make.

And persistency of objects is another thing OVR will be changing. Soon, what you and others create will reside permanently in their layers, always available for others to find and experience, for as long as the blockchain ecosystem is maintained by its own community — hence our focus on an economic model to incentivize and sustain that.

And with each experience recorded and learnt, deep insights and machine learning will develop greater understanding of the users, and even of the objects and how they interact with their physical surroundings so that these react faster and more relevant to changes in the environment.

These are the developments that we feel will truly change the way people perceive AR, and the infrastructure and the technology behind these dreams of a world-scale AR ecosystem can be quite complex to get right.

That’s how it is with pioneering tech, and we couldn’t be happier to have you as the first people to try out our earliest attempts!