Is augmented reality the way forward?

It seemed only yesterday when we were told that QR codes were set to revolutionise the way we accessed information by enabling us to scan the familiar grid onto our smartphone to either find additional product information or access a database, like your British Airways check in option for example.

Image representing metaio as depicted in Crunc...

Image by None via CrunchBase

Two years in internet terms have become like a day in politics in our times; a small change can revolutionise an entire process, dispatching a new process into premature obsolescence.  And this it seems is exactly what is going to happen to QR codes, to be brutally replaced shortly by AR.

AR? Well, Augmented Reality that is.  AR has been around for a while as a concept, but not that long as a viable solution.  Nevertheless AR is at the very heart of what Google is developing with its Google Glasses. But you don’t have to fork out the $1000 for a pair of Google Glasses to access AR these days – it’s already available in an app near you, Android or iOS.

So how does AR work?  Well, it’s really simple, you point your phone (or rather the camera phone) and that’s it, just like for a QR code, except of course you get much more.  For example, with the app developed for the teenage magazine Seventeen you can click on the fashion items you see in their mag and these are automatically added to your shopping cart, discount included.  If you don’t believe me visit their site here.  IKEA has gone a step further, with an app that literally adds furniture from their catalogue to your own room, so you can see immediately how a table, or a chair would fit into your surroundings.  Google Glasses are essentially based on the same principle so as you are walking down a high street you may get enhanced information about the reality that surrounds you, from shops reviews, to special offers and more.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Companies like Metaio from Germany have been at the forefront of innovation in this field for some years, as part of an EU funded project called Venturi, you can even take a look at some of the innovative tools this consortium is planning in theirYouTube channel.

AR is now accessible to almost every company, though at a premium for now.  But as technology becomes more widespread this tool will become much more accessible.  We can’t wait to do our first AR app.

(first published in on October 15, 2013)

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