Note: This article was originally published on Medium
Augmented Reality is simple to explain: it’s the internet, manifested in the physical world. The physical world and digital worlds are converging.
The AR Cloud is a new type of internet
The internet is an enormous bundle of information. Augmented Reality (sometimes called the AR Cloud) is also a big bundle of information with one key distinction: it is organised by location.
The AR Cloud is about the internet living in our world, rather than us living in the internet.
It will fundamentally change how we interact with the internet.
The best way to understand something is to understand its applications. You might already have some references, like Pokémon GO. But Pokémon GO is as close to true AR as the landline is to the iPhone.
So let’s step five years into the future and explore some applications of Augmented Reality.
- Tourism: Imagine travelling to Rome and as you look at pit of the Colosseum it transforms into a stadium of Gladiators, just as it was thousands of years ago.
- Facts and history appearing from the city as you roam — buildings that you otherwise wouldn’t notice.
- Family: Imagine your dying grandmother in a hospital on the other side of the world. With only hours to live, you visit her bedside and talk to her as if you were standing beside her. Or having breakfast in England while sitting across the table from your daughter, who is having dinner in New Zealand.
- Shopping: Never again will you have to get that terrible hair cut due to your inability to describe exactly what you want — just try on different hair styles and make adjustments before the scissors start snipping.
- Education: Imagine attending the best universities from anywhere in the world. Sitting in the front row. Asking the lecturer questions, who can interact with you like you are physically present.
- Gaming: Imagine playing games in a world without separation. You — brandishing your lightsaber in the latest Star Wars game — deflect a spell from someone playing Harry Potter, while Battlegrounds players logged in from their browsers flee past you towards the center of the city.
- Fun: Imagine attending the Burning Man festival and seeing all the weird and wonderful people dancing with digital avatars — people attending remotely from their VR headset.
- If you’ve read Ready Player One, Rainbow’s End, or heard of the Metaverse, then you understand the possibilities. The internet is becoming more real.
The value of the AR Cloud
When the internet was created, how many people were able to grasp its value?
Products fall into two categories: ear muffs or ice skates. Most products are like ear muffs where the problem (cold ears) is obvious and so the solution (warm fluffy headphones) is equally obvious.
The internet wasn’t ear muffs, it was ice skates. Imagine explaining ice skates to somebody who has never seen ice. “Ice skates” are products which don’t solve any obvious problem.
But a lack of problem doesn’t indicate a lack of value. The internet was the most valuable pair of ice skates the world has ever known.
The AR Cloud is also a pair of ice skates. It’s new and transformative, and it’s hard to comprehend the impact it could have on society. But it will almost definitely be a positive impact. It will allow humans to connect in a more “human” way, while simultaneously stretching reality as far as our imagination can reach.
For a more detailed introduction to the AR Cloud, I recommend watching Ori Inbar’s Introduction to the AR Cloud.