!Warning, this is a rant! With the growing interest in augmented reality, I continue to notice where presenters, bloggers, researchers, and other have misinformed their audience about the subject. To use the most generic of references, “Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics.” – Wikipedia

Now I have messed up before in a presentation sure, who hasn’t? But lately I see more AR evangelists misrepresenting the technology behind AR campaigns and applications.

Why do I care you may wonder? Besides wanting people to be educated correctly, as a developer of augmented reality applications, this makes it very difficult when dealing with clients new to the space. They come in wanting an application that utilizes the same AR+x technologies that were used in a popular campaign they heard about, and are puzzled when told they were misinformed at some big conference or event by a panelist that is supposed to be the AR expert.

I have heard where applications that solely used computer vision leveraged the Kinect interface, that Google Goggles is AR when even Google calls it image search, and those that reference AR Youtube videos that are 100% mock up as working applications.

I recently experienced at a big event here in San Francisco where a presenter talked about the pros & cons of an AR medical application they had pictured on one of their slides. When the session ended and opened to Q & A, I used the opportunity to inform the speaker and audience as to what the real nature of the application was for. When asked by the presenter if I worked on the project, I politely said, “Yes, it is me in the picture.” I am very grateful to the speaker for liking my app enough to include it in their presentation, but wish in the future they would reference it correctly or preface, “apps like this can be used for …..” not just make up something and state that is what it is.

Now I have never experienced this at an event with AR companies presenting or those that work with the technology. Going forward I hope events that include an augmented reality session on the agenda have presenters from the industry (not just enthusiasts) so correct information about the technology can be shared with the audience. Thank you.  *step down off soapbox

3 comments on “Augmenting the Facts .. the cake is a lie

  • Well, I disagree.

    Sure many of the applications today are not providing "augmented reality" as defined by Azuma or imagined by science fiction authors along the years, but they do augment your senses. That's why I have no problem calling Google Goggles an AR app – it isn't interactive, it doesn't overlay virtual objects on top of reality, but it does augment your vision. To be frank, I also don't have a problem with grouping the terms "augmented reality", "visual search", "internet of things" and many others together – for me the essence of AR is connecting physical reality with the web, whatever are the means.

    However, I believe that our definition of augmented reality should continuously evolve. What was marketed just a couple of years ago as AR (say marker based webcam flash application), was AR at the time, but no longer. Much like we do care to define microscopes and telescopes as AR devices, I predict that AR browsers will not be considered AR applications in the near future. Augmented reality should always evolve, and its success will also be its demise – augmented reality will one day become just "reality".

  • Let me try to tell you about my idea on this topic.
    Besides the industrial and medical Augmented Reality, which should be seen in a different light, the new AR will lose its name very soon. It will be part of the new internet. Especially in the mobile internet the AR-technology will be so deep implemented that nobody really will be able to draw the borders.
    Everyone who is focusing on the old topic of Augmented Reality already missed the train. We all should seek for ways to enhance the user's reality. And it doesn't matter, if we display POIs, 2D, 3D, Video, Audio, whatever. What we have to do, is to add some value to the cases we build. It's nice to see a ball in the middle of the room through my smartphone. But how many times will I use it? We have to think about the user's experience. If the people think, a ball in a room is something they would like to see every day, then I have been wrong and this case has to be build. But what about a supermarket that will be shown on my smartphone. It's open right now and this is an information I do need now. It's not very fancy and maybe a mapview would be enough. But who cares. People like and use it, so we have to provide it. The user doesn't know about AR, he just knows about his experience. It's not our job to fight for the definition of AR. It's our job to produce a new world with new experience.

    • Its not a matter of use case per se. Let's take the ball on the floor example. That has little value unless say its an entertainment app and instead of a ball it is a virtual pet running around responding to objects in its environment. Then the distinction matters. To have a virtual dog simply running around is far different technology then having that same dog aware of the objects in the scene graph. And its this technology that we are trying to define as AR. Where I agree is that in the LONG term, these terms will be pointless. However we are not in the long term yet and when we talk about a technology be it software, hardware, standards etc.. we are not talking about any particular use case nor the value of that use case, but instead defining an emerging technology. And since marketing promotion is all about words, then I feel we need to define them well before Madison ave defines them for us.—

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