Augmented reality (AR) most recently gained attention when Nintendo launched Pokémon Go in 2016. As novel as the game was, it was little more than an overlay triggered when a player approached a specific location–the events themselves could happen anywhere, in any circumstance. This generic interaction probably had a lot to do with the fact that in 2016 there were no commercially available smart devices that could ‘understand’ anything about the environment around them. These devices relied on GPS location and their general orientation to calculate positioning. But advancements in AR are happening fast.
Google has been working on a technology called Tango, and devices enabled with this technology can actually ‘learn’ information about an environment. The sensors on the devices will map and remember the contours of a physical space and, when coupled with already standard sensors like GPS and gyroscopes, will actually ‘know’ where you are in a space.
The Detroit Institute of Art leveraged these new advances in AR technology to create a tool for their museum called ‘Lumin’. This tool allows museum goers to see extra details and hidden features of historical objects they would otherwise be unable to interact with. Now patrons can see the skeleton inside a mummy, reveal what colors used to adorn stone carvings, and understand how ancient tools were used.
Only a few commercial devices are currently equipped with this technology, but you can be certain that it will become a standard feature on smart devices in the coming years. That means you can also expect augmented reality to become a standard yet powerful way to experience the everyday world, adding rich layers of information and interaction to any space you can imagine.