Never Mind Flying Cars, AR Is Here, Now

Here we are, with a good chunk of the 21st century behind us, so it’s a fair question to ask: “I thought we’d have flying cars and robot butlers who can do anything we ask, like in The Jetsons. 

What happened?”

Well, the flying cars are still safely on the ground, and roboticists are still struggling to make robots that can do one thing, let alone anything we ask.

But we do have a few things that The Jetsons never anticipated, such as spam (the electronic kind), memes, and smartphones. And: augmented reality (AR).

Advances in Spatial Computing

AR is now starting to hit its stride, with practical as well as entertainment-oriented applications.  For now, AR is delivered mainly by smartphone and tablet apps. These apps are interesting, but an AR world displayed in a five- to ten-inch swatch of screen isn’t particularly compelling.

However, advances in spatial computing—the technology that overlays computer-based data onto the real world—is poised to take AR to the next level, providing a fully immersive experience for the user through smart glasses and even smart contact lenses.

This trend has immense implications for many areas of life, both personal and professional. Some of the best AR examples will soon include the following, among others:

  • In education, any classroom (or anyplace else) can become a field trip to a medieval mead hall, a coral reef ecosystem, or the surface of a faraway planet.
  • In healthcare, doctors will be able to visualize more precisely the extent of tumors and other health problems, and design and execute targeted surgeries and other treatments.
  • Entertainment will be much more immersive, whether experiencing a live or pre-recorded event. Watch a movie or sporting event from any perspective you want, access real-time information about the actors or players, and more.
  • In retail, you will be able to access information about everything you see on the shelves – from ingredients, nutrition information, customer ratings, and recipes – to what farm or ranch it came from and the path it took to your local grocery. Your experience at restaurants and other retailers will be similarly enhanced.

Spatial AR and Field Service

In our admittedly biased opinion here at Fieldbit, some of the most interesting spatial AR apps will be in manufacturing and industry. Similar to the supermarket experience, both field-service and in-house technicians will be able to get historical and up-to-the-minute information about any piece of equipment on the factory floor.

In a spatial AR supermarket, prices might change minute-by-minute on the basis of weather, local events, or simply to encourage shoppers to take short-expiry products. Similarly, data regarding heavy machinery might change according to real-time sensor data, giving AR-connected technicians an accurate, up-to-date picture of the condition of the machine without having to physically inspect it.

The augmented vision afforded by spatial AR will enable technicians to “see inside” a piece of running equipment to pinpoint potential problems, as well as see repair instructions superimposed on the machine.

Spatial AR won’t just help technicians on the floor—remote assistance representatives will be able to see what the local technician sees, and guide the local tech through operational, routine maintenance, and emergency repair procedures.

In fact, for some tasks, there will be no need for a local technician at all—remote associates will be able to use the sensor data to visualize and monitor the condition of everything on the floor.

Finally, spatial AR will revolutionize operational and maintenance training for industrial equipment. Students can get “hands-on” experience, even if they aren’t in the same physical location as the equipment—or the instructor.

Your Life Will Be Augmented

Be prepared to have every aspect of your life turned into a data point that can then be incorporated into an AR application. Third parties want this information to better understand you, be it to convince you to become a customer, a voter, a follower, or something else. And ultimately, AR is one of the tools that’ll be used to get that info. Spatial  AR is coming soon to your life—much sooner than a flying car.

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