If you’ve read my last post on making successful app driven business models across Augmented Reality, you may recollect the connection between app usage and execution. Irrespective of the fact that whether an AR app is standalone like ingress or built around a solid business model such as yelp, app usage and execution determines its success to a large extent.
But let’s get out of the linear vision of coupling AR with mobile apps alone. AR has a lot of potential to carve out immersive personal experiences. It has to be exploited and for that to happen we enter into the domain of Internet of Things (IOT). I know, that by now, the monumental failure of Google Glass has popped into your mind and you might conclude that this is the end of it. However, technology served through personal wearable devices is a different ball-game altogether.
A lot of influence comes from the company culture itself. Google’s nerd culture saw Glass as an OPTIMAL AR eyewear to provide value while the consumer market found it absolutely Dorky. One simply cannot imagine wearing these and walking into a french restaurant in a fine evening. If you cannot visualize that yourself, here you go.
OK, so if the best of nerds cannot put together a successful AR device, where else should we look towards? I think it is Hollywood. Hollywood has been pushing barriers within the Sci-Fi category and has accumulated a lot of knowledge and insights from the progression.
As with any idea, Hollywood Sci-Fi flicks have put a lot of efforts in order to keep the science right. We all acknowledge that. But what we hardly acknowledge, is the industry’s ability to superficially project any technology in a usable and socially acceptable manner. Socially acceptable here means cool and presented in such a way that they would be adopted by people in real-life.
There are so many examples where Hollywood’s projection of future tech has been accurate. We have the James Bond car being made for real, we have the holographic projection from Star Wars and so on. You can google them by yourself. But most importantly, the aesthetic superiority of Hollywood have been able to project perfect set-ups and designs for futuristic technologies that can be adapted by consumer markets. With AR, they have done this time to time.
Let’s look at how Hollywood has been seeing AR all this time and what can be learnt-
Augmented Reality can be cool but needs to be closely aligned in the most humane manner as possible
Steven Spielberg blended the terminator with human beings and avoided anything over-the-top. The reason behind doing so was to connect viewers deeply with the character. And we all did. Imagine if we always had Arnold’s face covered with a futuristic metallic mask. The presence would not be strong enough. What we learn from this— tech can be cool but it needs to be closely aligned in the most humane manner as possible.
While, the Terminator makes extensive calculations and predictions using AR, the character with a simple sunglass does not look out-of-the-place at all. In real life, it might look like too much to ask for. The simplest thing that I can imagine now, are a pair of contact lens that gives me an AR experience. This is far-fetched, but you get the point–the more humane your technology looks, the more chances it gathers for acceptance in consumer markets.
Minimal information or visual elements on screen can save the user in a ‘Fight or Flight’ situation
Top Gun’s AR view is well thought out. The number of elements within the Augmented View is minimal and this is what an AR wearable should strive to achieve. Information overflow can be very common with AR wearables. In addition to that, too much of animation can affect the user experience negatively. Do not think that if you stuff peppy animations and make it look cool, it will save your day. What you are perceiving as cool and peppy would soon turn into annoyance in a fight or flight situation.
Know what and for whom you are building in order to derive the aesthetics of your AR device accordingly
The film design brings in extreme techno elements. Tom cruise here is on duty and on a mission. This is professional and the director understood it quite well. In such a setting, you can allow a gizmo intense environment. It won’t feel out of place. Long story short, if you are building something for professional usage, you may care less if the design goes a bit whacky. In fact, those screens put in front of Cruise can be replaced by Google Glass. One can fit Google Glass on Cruise’s face and it won’t look aesthetically unpleasing at all. The B2B market can be more accommodating when it comes to whacky designs.
The future of Augmented Reality can base itself on intuitive control
Iron Man’s character has to do a lot with technology. But the character is funny and a cool utilitarian at the same time. The suit is also coloured with Red and Yellow (two bright colours) that implies that the character is fun, lively and spontaneous. His AR view follows the same course. A lot of information is consumed in short bursts of time. Also, the AR projection highlights objects and pops information automatically when Iron Man looks at them for a substantial amount of time. This is a possible pathway where AR would probably go. When you are thinking a business model with your AR device, you might want to keep Intuitive control in mind.
After all these vision and ideas, where are we right now?
We have been able to get a lot of AR experience in recent times. Thanks to smartphones for simplifying and providing it to the masses. However, personal devices using Augmented Reality have just started to take off. Google Glass might not be looking hopeful in the future, but it did a great job in testing the waters for Google and the entire Augmented Reality market. We finally have an idea about what can possibly sell while debating about streamlined and focused product development at the same time. Be it consumer market or specific niches, things can certainly become better.
If you checked out the new Augmented Reality Glasses from BMW’s Mini, you can get a hope that things are moving in the right direction. Mini has a reputation of producing classy small cars that have always been in demand in the United Kingdom. The brand strikes a lot of coherence with the British sophistication which draws a lot of personal connection. This is a perfect ground to take the personal connection to a whole new level and MINI is doing it with their Augmented Reality Glasses.
As pointed out before, the glasses are quite cool and fulfills a majority of the things Hollywood could show us. These are-
- Provide minimal but useful information
- Providing/Prompting the right information with respect to location
- Aesthetics that comply with the consumer market (cool golden outline over the frame)
- Aware about the segment’s taste in creating the right product (consumer vs B2B elements and usage)
- Solely made to enhance the driving experience. Utility not indispensable
- Bit oversized
So, if we have these glasses right now in our hands, that’s a lot of progress. The approach to AR wearables in the future looks certainly promising.
Don’t forget the app
Uploading data directly from the AR wearable to servers does not look a good idea to me as yet. Talking about MINI, integrating the cars functionalities with an app will be advantageous. Recording data through pictures, tagging etc. has to be done too and there is nothing better than an app to do all that. Storing it into the app, and enabling functionalities from it will only make things better for the AR device.
AR wearables provide a personal feeling. It is immersive and can add a lot of value to the human experience in general. However, social acceptability becomes a huge concern for mass adoption. As far a consumer market is concerned, the aesthetic appropriateness is essential. Time to time, Hollywood has shown that to the masses. The question is can we join the dots, fill the voids and make AR wearables more robust?