You're thinking about Augmented Reality all wrong

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aug.ment
verb |ôgˈment| [ with obj. ]
make (something) greater by adding to it; increase: he augmented his reality by finding a special on foursquare. 

Search for augmented reality in the App store or any Android store and you’ll find that the devices will typically focus on the visual sensory perception of reality, some apps add in Wikipedia links via loc., some will show you where the closest ATM is, but all this can be done on a Google Map layer, and not be as painstakingly annoying to consume.

We’re thinking about augmented reality incorrectly, we’re thinking it needs to be a sensory extension. Sure, a pair of 3D glasses that could potentially layer textures on NYCs streets, add in Zombies and put a digital gun in your hands would be awesome, but the truth is that we’re at least 20 years away from Left 4 Dead Augmented 2.

Instead we should focus on utilizing easily deployable tools to augment day to day life by bridging the real with the digital as easily and simply as we can, and this is definitely starting to take shape with QR codes.

Perhaps I’m a bit more in tune to them, but just on my train ride to the office today, I saw 3 distinct QR codes in an area that had 4 distinct ads. While this percentage isn’t by any means indicative of the average, QR codes are undeniably showing up in more and more places.

So bears the next question. Is it easier to

a) whip out a mobile phone, launch a specific augmented reality app, that 1. connects to a finite database, 2. probably requires you to filter what you’re interested in and 3. see the information first via “info blurb” on a touchscreen (see above image), and then click through to what you want to find, or

b) whip out a mobile, launch any QR scanner, scan, and retrieve the information whatever it may be.

In terms of process, and access to information plan b) wins hands down, and it will for some time now, or a least until your iPhone 6 can communicate a digital signature of your blog, twitter account, etc… or we get a bunch of people those nifty glasses mentioned before, Augmented reality will extend the digital into our lives through other means, but I’d say it’s a safe bet that QR codes will be the path to augmenting and reshaping reality.

 

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