Designing for an Augmented Reality world

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How “Augmented Reality” and the mobile web changes everything Mobile broadband access and ever-smarter phones are shaking the internet out its lofty cloud and bringing the web into the real world. As a result, the old “real world”, and many old ideas and many old business models will be running out of places to hide from the pervasive influence of the net. Meanwhile, each of our smart phones are in many ways even better than the old clunky tools we used to use to surf the net. Our mobile devices are not only connected but, also bristling with sensors like radios, cameras, microphones, GPS etc. that can directly perceive and interact with the world around you. We’re reaching a point where it’s theoretically possible to point that device at almost anything: a landmark, a product on a store shelf, your friends or a crowd of people; and draw from the cloud and your social graph as much, or perhaps more, relevant information than you ever wanted to know. Oh, and the cloud will be watching you and whatever’s around you as well. In the new augmented reality, the web surfs you. The goal of this talk will be to provide you with a fast paced overview of what this new “augmented” reality will mean for how we socialize, for how we sell and market physical products, for architecture, for media and entertainment, for public policy, crime, privacy and, as well, few early signals for what might be the new killer apps. If all that is not interesting enough, I will also bring free beer.

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What is Augmented Reality?

It’s really an old idea

Think “Terminator vision”

Once thought to require silly hats

Call this “head’s up” augmented reality.

But, for now, this will do fine

Bringing down all the resources of the internet out

of cyberspace and into ubiquitous reality

Flickr: c@rljones

Mobile phones are like the billion roofing nails that tie the cloud down to earth.

Just like ordinary realityJust like ordinary reality

Flickr: wvs

Only more soOnly more so

Flickr: wvs

Why is this important

Augmented reality finisheswhat the internet started

Internet 1.0 (1995-1999) was all about the great disruptive promise of the “cyberspace” and “online shopping”

Internet 2.0 (2005-2009) was the 10 years it took to really figure out what to do with it: USG, rich web apps, social media

Augmented Reality (2008…) is where mobile technology and wireless broadband make the internet finaly ubiquitous. And inescapable.

By this measure you could say there are many “augmented reality” apps already

The other day, my dadgoogled a small duck. This augmented his reality.

Call this “head’s down” AR

Broadly, what are the effects of Augmented Reality?

• Increased transparency• Reduced privacy• Timely access to information• Constant access to entertainment• Marketers can’t keep using the same old tricks

In theory, anyone can easily know everything there is to know anything or anyone anywhere

they are.

Flickr: Jamais Cascio

But back to terminator vision

Senkai Camera

Cool app. Maybe this will be the “apple newton” of pure AR


3D game projected into realspace through your phone screen

TerminatorVision +

+Ordinary Reality

=Augmented Reality


“Amazon declares war on retailers”

Shop savvy, Amazon mobile app etc: these are a Retailers worst nightmare

Idee Inc., image recognition search on an iPhone

Social Augmented reality

Social Augmented Reality

The knowledge of joining a crowd and knowing:• Who do I know here?• Where do I know them from?• Who should I get to know?• Who here is single?• Are there any naked pictures of them on the


There will be many layers of realityNot everyone wants to live in the Youtube comment section of reality

Marketing gimmicks

Choose your context, choose your data sets

Good realities / Bad realities Who are we to judge?

Marshal McLuhan

Mobile phone

Enhances: Voice, conversation

Retrieves: Spoken word, direct conversation

Reverses: Video, picture, text messaging, Augmented reality

Obsolesces: Public payphones, wrist watches, land lines, leaving notes, advance planning

Mobile + Augmented Reality

Enhances: Awareness, tacit knowledge, wisdom Retrieves: Written word, gestures, lore, gossip

Reverses: “batman vision”

Obsolesces: Desktop web, Newspapers, ipods, departments stores, guidebooks, paper maps, paperbacks, magazines, local storage, phone numbers, MSWindows

What is still holding us back?Mobile Processing power Some of these apps running <10fps

Screen size Are small relative to the world

Human limitations: eyesight, thumb width

Serious interaction problem for many demographics

GPS locating speed Waiting…. Waiting… ah fuck it

Network bandwidth/latency 400ms pings are not so responsive

Tools/APIs Just emerging

Battery Power This stuff devours batteries

Installed base Smartphones not ubiquitous yet

Fragmented mobile platforms Going to be with us a while

M-commerce & monetization Buying real stuff is hard

What is getting better?Mobile Processing power Moore’s inexorable law

Screen size Tablets, new tech foldable/rollable?

Human limitations: eyesight, thumb width

Better touch interfaces, natural gestures

GPS locating speed AGPS, other cues e.g. wifi

Network bandwidth/latency 4G/LTE brings better speed/latency

Tools/APIs Will come

Battery Power Moore’s law brings efficiencies

Installed base >50% by 2012

Fragmented mobile platforms Ultimately the browser may displace native apps

M-commerce & monetization We’re working on it

Near Future Tipping points

iPhone 3.0 expected capabilities:– Faster processor (the current one is unchanged from 2007)– Video capabilities– Where the iPhone goes the interactive design geeks follow

Androids everywhere– More mobile brands launching android soon– Waiting for the deluge of Chinese off-brand

Future blackberries (go Canada)– May bring corporate/enterprise killer apps

Who really becomes empowered?Who really becomes empowered?

Who also becomes empowered?Who also becomes empowered?

Who benefits from augmented reality?Brands Consumers

State Control Opposition

Police Criminals

Developed world Developing world

The center The edges

Extroverts Introverts

The old The young

E-government E-anarchy

As a designer, you can choose sides

If you are a mobile designer, there’s no shortage of paying work ahead

When augmented reality fails(PROTIP #71: Don’t drop Augmented reality)

The more sophisticated a technology, the more fragile it can be

1. Don’t drop augmented reality2. I ran out of batteries so I can’t buy a coffee3. I ran out of batteries and I can’t find my way

home4. I am meeting my blind date but she went

indoors where LBS doesn’t work5. When a government rounds up opposition

based on mobile records