My last post was more about being rational, but this post is more about being raw and emotional. I wanna make two points that really grind my gears about so called “Augmented Reality” apps we’re seeing these days.
1. What really grinds my gears about “Augmented Reality”: It really fucking SUCKS!
There I said it. By “Augmented Reality,” I mean those iPhone and Android apps I mentioned in the previous blog in their current incarnation. And if you really think they’re useful, I will respectfully argue you’re full of shit. Get a REAL use case, and try a comparison with Google Maps. If you still think those “Augmented Reality” apps are still more useful, then I’d again respectfully argue that you are a delusional fuck.
Please don’t get me wrong — I’d *love* to see those guys succeed. I’m just saying there’s a lot of work to be done at its current state, and they really need to differentiate the functionality from all other local search and mapping applications beyond the video-overlay eye candy.
2. What really grinds my gears about “Augmented Reality”: HYPE will KILL the industry.
Just like “Artificial Intelligence” and “Virtual Reality,” or any other technical buzz words that were hyped waaaaaaay beyond their technological capabilities, the current AR hype will kill the future of AR industry.
Let’s take a look at what happened to Artificial Intelligence (AI). From late 50’s on, the buzz words “AI” was coined and researched by amazingly brilliant minds. For one reason or another, too much hype followed too much funding, and eventually too much promises and vision could not be realized, even today. It’s cuz the vision was great, but the technology didn’t exist yet!
Nowadays, we see AI-inspired applications everywhere, e.g. Pandora’s music recommendations, Amazon’s “you might also like,” and even facial recognition algorithms — these are in one form or another inspired by AI. But the problem is no one uses the word “AI” anymore. In fact, some avoid it like a plague.
AI is still not realized today according to Isaac Asimov’s definition. But this does not mean AI-inspired technologies aren’t useful. In fact, they are. I would even venture out to say that if the hype was minimized and expectations set properly, perhaps there would be more overall stream of funding to advance these technologies much beyond what we have today. (Rule of thumb: If you hear, “but we should be able to do that in 10 years,” then, shit, you ain’t got no solution.)
Similarly, AR is not realized today as defined by William Gibson or Bruce Sterling. But we should be able to do this in 10 years, right? I wouldn’t bet on it. Gibson and Sterling are futurists — they can beautifully write scenarios and use cases that are really quite useful and believable for the future. And these use cases really should drive technology to make our lives for the better. BUT that doesn’t mean that these technologies CAN be realized.
I would argue that the forefathers of AR, did and do have the right idea (pls read the last blog post). I still think we need to continue to expand/expound on vision algorithms (e.g. image tracking, image detection/recognition, etc.) and couple that with other sensors (e.g. Wifi, RFID, Bluetooth, accelerators, gyros, GPS, compasses, etc.) to more precisely tell people what they’re seeing in an interactive and augmented sense.
The level of precision provided by current apps are good from a mapping perspective (i.e. the 2D “aerial” view), but not good enough from a first-person’s ground perspective. (I will definitely write another blog more on the technical short-comings.)
I think that AR has been over hyped many years ago, and I don’t want to see any over-hyping done today or the future anymore. Perhaps, we need to reset people’s expectations somehow, or rebrand the words to something else. Because I really do think that there’s plenty of use for AR-inspired technologies as being defined by Layars and Wikitudes of the world.
Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.
Shit, I believe in AR. Just don’t fucking kill it… (Sorry about my fucks and shits. I told you it was going to be emotional..)