Are consumers ready for augmented reality? This photo provided by Wayfair shows screenshots demonstrating WayfairView for Tango-enabled Android phones, allowing a user to superimpose virtual images over real-life settings. The app allows shoppers to see how furniture will look in their living room or other space before buying it. (Wayfair Inc. via AP/IKEA via AP)
Are consumers ready for augmented reality?
Lexile

You might have gotten a taste of "augmented reality." That's the blending of the virtual and physical worlds. For instance, you might have chased on-screen monsters at real-world landmarks in last year's gaming sensation, "Pokemon Go."

Upcoming augmented reality apps will follow that same principle of superimposing virtual images over real-life settings. That could let you see how furniture will look in your real living room before you buy it.

"Pokemon Go" didn't require special hardware or software. But more advanced AR apps will. Google and Apple are both developing technology to enable that. Google's AR technology is already on some Android phones. On Tuesday, Google announced plans to bring AR to even more phones. This includes Samsung's popular S8. And it includes Google's own Pixel. But Google didn't give a timetable beyond promising an update by the end of the year.

As a result, Apple might pull ahead. It will extend AR to all recent iPhones. And also to all iPads. That will come in a software update. It is expected next month. It is iOS 11. Hundreds of millions of AR-ready devices will suddenly be in the hands of consumers.

But how many are ready to give AR a try?

There have been a dozen or so apps demoed recently for Android and iPhones. The ones showing the most promise are furniture apps.

From a catalog or a website, it's hard to tell whether a sofa or a bed will actually fit in your room. Even if it fits, will it be far enough from other pieces of furniture for someone to walk through?

With AR, you can go to your living room or bedroom and add an item you're thinking of buying. The phone maps out the dimensions of your room. It scales the virtual item automatically. There's no need to pull out a tape measure. The online furnishing store Wayfair has the WayfairView. It is for Android phones. Ikea is coming out with one for Apple devices. Wayfair says it's exploring bringing the app to iPhones. It also wants to bring ti to and iPads.

As for whimsical, Holo for Android lets you pose next to virtual tigers and cartoon characters. For iPhones and iPads, the Food Network will let you add frosting and sprinkles to virtual cupcakes. You can also add balloons and eyes. You can share creations on social media.

Games and education are also popular categories. On Apple devices, a companion to AMC's "The Walking Dead" creates zombies alongside real people. On Android, apps being built for classrooms will let students explore the solar system. It will let them explore volcanoes and more.

Virtual reality is a technology that immerses you in a different world. It does not try to supplement the real world with virtual images. That is what AR does. VR was supposed to be the next big thing. But the appeal has been limited outside of games and industrial applications. You need special headsets. They might make you dizzy if you wear one too long.

And VR isn't very social. Put on the headset, and you shut out everyone else around you. Part of the appeal of "Pokemon Go" was the ability to run into strangers who were also playing. Augmented reality can be a shared experience. Friends look on the phone screen with you.

AR shows more promise than VR. But there has yet to be a "killer app" that everyone must have.

Rather, people will discover AR over time. It could happen over a few years. Someone renovating or moving might discover the furniture apps. New parents might discover educational apps. Those people might then go on to discover more AR apps to try out. But just hearing that AR is available might not be enough for someone to check it out.

Consider mobile payments. Most phones now have the capability. But people still tend to pull out plastic when shopping. There's no doubt more people are using mobile payments. More retailers are accepting them. But it's far from commonplace.

Expect augmented reality to also take time to take off.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How does augmented reality differ from reality?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (50)
  • hansg-hol
    9/08/2017 - 10:03 a.m.

    Augmented reality differs from actual reality by the fact that augmented reality is a technology viewpoint. Actual reality is an actual viewpoint of the world, not from a screen.

  • kendalm-hol
    9/08/2017 - 10:04 a.m.

    Augmented reality is seeing something you want to find or need through your computer screen. Virtual reality is seeing something or someone in the everyday world.

  • marissar-hol
    9/08/2017 - 10:06 a.m.

    Augmented reality is different from reality because it is on a screen. It looks real on the phone and you might get into it but it's not reality.

  • matthewc-hol1
    9/08/2017 - 10:06 a.m.

    I think AR is very interesting and has a cool concept but i'm not sure if I will get any of these apps.

  • zachh-hol1
    9/08/2017 - 11:33 a.m.

    this is revolutionary in the reality industry.

  • sophiaj-hol
    9/08/2017 - 11:33 a.m.

    Augmented Reality can be shared with a friend like looking on a phone screen.

  • alexv-hol1
    9/08/2017 - 11:34 a.m.

    augmented reality that's the blending of the virtual and physical worlds. For instance you might have chased on-screen monsters at real world landmarks in last year's gaming sensation, "Pokemon Go."

  • liamr-hol1
    9/08/2017 - 11:34 a.m.

    In augmented reality, there is a bunch of virtual stuff you are seeing, not anyone else. In reality, you are communicating with others, without the use of phones or computers.

  • adairab-hol
    9/08/2017 - 11:35 a.m.

    Augmented reality allows features from the world of virtual reality into the physical reality we are actually in.

  • austinb-hol1
    9/08/2017 - 11:36 a.m.

    It differs from reality because for an insistence if you want to see how a chair looks in your house you can but it there in AR and if it looks good you can buy it and you could use it to make sure it fits were you are going to put it and it will also let you be able to tell if you don't like how it looks with your house and it will be cool to see in games.

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