Augmented reality is becoming easier to use, because it is becoming less dependent on seperate devices and even mobile apps. Browsers have started to support actions, which we are more used to seeing in downloadable applications. This also affects AR.
The role of technology in our lives can be approached through the word ubique. Meaning roughly 'everywhere', technology that is ubiquitous is present everywhere and effortless to use. Ubiquitous technology is as 'everyday' as technology can be.
In stricter definitions technology is ubiquitous only if it demands no conscious effort or focus on part of its user, and is always on. The word is thrown around more today: technology can be taken to be ubiquitous, when it's part of everyday life, available for all and the threshold to using it is in practice nonexistent. Relevant examples could thus be, e.g., indoor and outdoor lighting, smartphones and the email.
Why wear AR glasses if a phone is enough?
Earlier attempts to make augmented reality ubiquitous, focused on seeing. Even though, many were interested in Google Glass smart glasses their use is now limited to certain businesses (Glass at Work).
In 2017 we will see Microsoft's HoloLens being released for consumers in China. Apple and Facebook are also investing in VR technology. Glasses seem to be maturing slower than people used to expect, and Google's Glass was ahead of its time.
It seems more probable that AR will still be used with a smartphone for quite a while. The phone becomes a window to another world, without its user necessarily being recognizable on the street: even though Pokémon GO was very visible in public space, with large groups of players being on the move at the same time, keeping one's eyes fixed on a smartphone screen is still a lot more common and routine than giving voice commands to peculiar looking, scifistic glasses.
Seperate VR devices do not fit people on the move. This is the reason they have mostly been used in gaming. User-interfaces built on speech are slowly showing up inside the safety of people's own homes – it is not clear, whether people will ever want to use them in public spaces where making noise is mainly used to attract other people's attention.
Smartphones full functionality is going online – what does this mean?
After HTML5 notifications have come to browswers. On top of this, everyday websites such as Facebook can ask for other permissions, like to use the device's location or camera.
Many applications already work like web pages. They manage data in similar ways and many of their uses may demand an internet connection.
In the future it will be more important to seperate from each other the interactions where the focus should be on the accessibility of AR (AR in the browser) and the interactions where the users should be engaged on a longer term (application with AR as one of its functionalities)
When AR becomes easier to use, more information on products can be given: a virtual space serves on top of the regular one and companies have new opportunities to produce added value for their customers.
This technology already exists, but its use is still rare. This is why it is now important to plan and implement ways in which one's own company and its customers can benefit from augmented reality. This might take the form of marketing solutions (like the candy bag app) we created for Fazer) or embedding information onto one's office or exhibition space (as was the case with this AR wall we created for Metsä Group).
The more ubiquitous AR becomes, the more important it is to take part in it. AR is still far from being everywhere and available for anyone. But the technology is already ripe for picking and refining.
In the same way, as we today expect a company to have an email address and most often a Twitter account for customer support, we might in the future find insufficient and old-timey the small amount of information available to us at store shelves and on packaging.