Not so long ago, Augmented reality was set to be the next big thing in service design. Viewing your own physical, real-world environment with additional elements augmenting it through computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data… it looked impressive, and apparently it was about to revolutionise interfaces and devices. What happened to it?
Fjord has recently looked at a number of compelling ways in which Augmented reality (AR) can evolve into the future – as we anticipate how AR might really add value to people’s lives.
So why hasn’t AR taken off?
Firstly, we should remember that these impacts are not always felt overnight. For example, people in our industry started getting excited about mobile location-based services more than ten years ago. Now they are everywhere. But it took time. AR will take maybe 3-5 years before it really takes off across the mass market.
Additionally, AR hasn’t taken off yet because the device integration hasn’t been good enough, or because it’s been an example of a technology looking for a problem rather than a great solution to a core user need.
Will AR take off first in the shape of apps, or as an integrated part of the phone OS?
It largely depends upon who can devise the most compelling service first. Most likely some smart companies will create an app first that solves real needs, saves people money or time, and offers something really compelling. So apps could lead the adoption, followed by deeper embedded experiences.
How can companies directly generate revenue through AR, or is it too soon for that?
On the app front, it’s the usual options of charging for an app (with an AR component that is truly useful), or the now-prevalent ‘freemium’ models in which users pay for additional functionality. There are also try-then-buy subscription services.
In the longer run, there will be lots of other ways to make money indirectly. Wherever money is exchanging hands, the people who enable the transactions can take a cut. Shopping and media consumption are clear examples; the car industry is another.
How will AR evolve?
For AR to make a big impact, it needs to move away from silo-bound, technology-driven current practices. It should solve real user needs or offer solutions that are genuinely much better than the current alternatives.
Broadly speaking, the AR capabilities also have to be more integrated into (a) the overall device experience, and (b) people’s natural behaviour, so that the interaction and experience feels fluid and smart, rather than fragmented and clunky.