All the big tech companies are developing augmented reality applications and even encouraging other developers to contribute to the field. Google and Apple released ARCore and ARKit respectively, development kits to create augmented reality apps on mobile, a couple of months ago and just recently, Snapchat launched an AR developer tool called Lens Studio for the PC. But just what is augmented reality and what’s with all the craze around it?
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices.
Chances are you’ve already seen some applications using this new trend. Augmented reality is the process of using technology to recognize real world objects and then augment the visual input in real time. It’s all an illusion. What you see through your camera’s phone isn’t really there in real life. The 2017 viral mobile app game Pokemon Go utilized AR to send players out in the world to catch Pokemon through their phone screens where Pokemon would seem to be standing right in front of them on a field. Snapchat filters use it to transform their users’ faces with special effects and even display a Bitmoji, a personal cartoon avatar, on any surface that the camera is pointed at.
Snapchat’s ad products allow companies to create full-screen Snap Ads, location based filters, and Lenses.
If you only brush the surface, augmented reality would seem to be for purely entertainment. Sure, people have a laugh and a good time catching Pokemon or adding cute puppy ears to their faces but its impact has changed the technological world. Everyone is tired of seeing 10 second advertisements that you can’t skip on videos but it’s fun when it’s a new filter on Snapchat that features the company’s brand. In that brief moment, the user became aware of the name, recognized their purpose, and most importantly, might even share the photo with their friends, which would spread the advertisement even further. Parents worried about their children staying inside all day to play video games on their electronic devices and yet with the release of Pokemon Go, it got an enormous number of kids and adults around the world to go outside and take a walk around their community.
There is no doubt that augmented reality will only continue to have a more important impact in our lives and more developers would be needed in the field. Luckily, there are already free resources online that provide the software needed and tutorials to get started.