It's one for a tech trend to get so much hype it blows up in everyone's face (looking at you, 3DTV) but augmented reality is not a fab movement that will fall on its face. It's being used most prominently in the Pokemon Go environment but today I was treated to a test-drive of AR's applications beyond gaming.
For a story I'm working on for Vice, I tried the Microsoft Hololens tech at a design firm that is using AR to give retail clients a look at a new building, inside and out, before it's built. It should be noted Hololens units are only available to select businesses, cost $5,000 each, and consumer headsets are expected to be available in a couple years. Very few regular folk have been witness to Microsoft's latest invention.
When I placed the Hololens over my face, before me was the design of a new bank, from the ground up. I moved around the table where the image was being displayed, and I peered closer to see the tellers area, the couches, the curved hallways. I instinctively reached out my hand to touch the chairs but of course I couldn't, but that's how lifelike the technology has matured to become.
It's evident AR can provide serious cost savings. For example, NASA is using HoloLens to visualize a Mars rover that hasn’t been constructed yet. The construction is already on board: Teaming with the Los Angeles-based dry wall subcontractor the Martin Bros., the proof of concept shows a worker constructing the shell of a bathroom guided by zero planning documents. Instead, he saw a 3D model floating in the room indicating where to place the next piece.
I have seen the future and it's Hololens. We may not be at the level yet displayed in the photo below, but we're not incredibly far off. Just as I was fascinated by VR's potential, I'm more enthusiastic about the many applications AR can provide, to both B2B firms and everyday folks looking for the next Pokestop.
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