Augmented reality has the potential to involve far more than catching Pikachu and checking in at fictional gyms. And while plenty of companies are working on building up that ecosystem, including Pikachu's creator, Niantic Labs, the technology has a ways to go. What's in store for these companies--as well as users of the technology--was the key question panelists pondered at an AR in Action summit panel in New York City this week.
Here are three of their top projections for the technology:
1. AR content will largely be consumer driven.
Augmented reality content--for instance, games in which you interact with characters a la Pokemon Go--is going to be vital to the future of the technology. There have already been ample hints that AR will transform how people interact with media and entertainment, however experts suggest the truly exciting potential with AR lies with users. "[Time Warner is] still interested in what interactions might be possible, [and] how storytelling will be delivered on these kinds of platforms," said Scott Levine, speaking at an "AR Future" panel at the event. He is a managing director at Time Warner Investments.
To this point, Rio Caraeff, the chief content officer of Magic Leap--a Plantation, Florida-based company working to produce mixed reality displays--suggested helping creators become more innovative. "I can talk about all of the ways you can improve CAT scans and MRIs," Caraeff said. "I can talk about the ways that I can be more entertained, more productive, more informed, more communicative, anything that you can imagine you can do. So we don't know what people will make, we want to give them the tools so they can experiment and iterate and figure that out."
2. Digital and physical worlds will be indistinguishable.
For Caraeff, making digital things seem more real is a top priority. "It's about the seamless and persistent integration of the digital world into the physical world in such a way that the atoms and the photons are one [with] your conscious mind," the Magic Leap CCO said. "If you can't distinguish between it, then that's real to you."
3. AR platforms will expand to other senses.
Currently, people can connect with AR through their smartphones, headsets and smart glasses. But the future of connecting to this world may involve other senses as well. Associate Dean for research at Georgia Tech Janet Murray specifically cited touch as a key sense that's currently underutilized. She said it wasn't enough to see things through headsets like Microsoft's HoloLens. Being able to use your hands to interact with the AR, however, would be transformative.