The current state of Augmented Reality

In spite of the subject line of this posting, my state of knowledge on that topic may be somewhat incomplete. I apologize to the reader if this is so.

A decade or more ago, Augmented Reality started to make its way to mobile devices, mainly smart-phones, and it consisted of an application that would record the scene which the forward-facing camera was viewing, and would perform some amount of image recognition, or of decoding of humanly imperceptible optical codes, and the app would then overlay CG content over that camera video, to give an enhanced experience to the user on the phone’s display, such as, to highlight certain geographical features of tourist sites, or, to highlight certain commercial products which the user was also seen as a potential customer of…

I think that one phenomenon which has taken place with AR has been, that that market was not lucrative, so that AR apps which did exactly those things have become less frequent. However, some such apps still exist, such as the Android app named ‘ROAR‘. This app does not require that regular users create accounts, but does require that content designers do so. Yet, content designers for this app have expressed pessimism in the question of, whether to create content of this form will pay off in increased profits, because of the simple fact that a customer would need to have this exact app installed, and be running it, either, when visiting a certain store, or, when pointing the app at a product which has already been purchased, say, in order to obtain instructions on how to set up the product. One might say that there is less of a will to invest as much money as was done decades ago, into content creation.

But while this assessment sounds rather bleak, there now exist some newer forms of AR, that have led to more apps. In one new form of AR, the user points his phone at an inside room, and places virtual furniture into it, in order to preview what the best arrangements of furniture would be, before actually spending the money and committing to buy said furniture.

The main reason I don’t want to link directly to such apps is the fact, that they sometimes belong to one specific furniture company, and I don’t want to play favours.

Additionally, AR apps now exist, which do exactly one thing: To act as rulers, i.e., to give a measuration of the distance between two points in 3D, when the 3D scene has been video-recorded in 2D. This would be one example. I can’t really tell how accurate such a ruler app finally is. I’m only documenting that it exists. It seems to have averaged more than 4 stars in user satisfaction reviews.

Another type of AR which exists now, takes the form of “Google Lens“. This was once integrated into ‘Google Photos’, but has been made a separate app. It acts as a search engine, but in order to use it, instead of typing in a search, the user points his phone-cam at a scene or object.

But then, there is also a form of AR, the only purpose of which seems to be, to allow the user to start with a photo, and to create an animation from it himself, that has some sort of fictitious- or fantasy- aspect, and which is simply supposed to look interesting. The resulting animation can then be posted on social media, to impress friends. In one case, the result is an animation in which parts of the photo end up seemingly to move, while in another case, random objects which the user uploaded to a Web-site, are placed ‘in front of’ an actual scene, just like virtual furniture was, except that no intention ever existed, to place those objects physically.

Therefore, in some forms, AR still exists. I suppose that yet another, big context in which it exists is, gaming.

Dirk