A few practical points for mass market AR adoption.
Daniel Eckler's article, "The Future of Apple & AR," reiterates that personal computing is on the verge of a paradigm shift toward augmented reality, and notes that Apple's recent hires, acquisitions and patents point towards this AR future, as does the tech embedded in their current product line (particularly the much-maligned AirPods, which can be properly appreciated as voice-activated computers that nestle in your ears).
Regarding Apple's prospective AR endeavors, Eckler observes, "If AR glasses are going to be a success, they’ll need to tether with a powerful computer (the iPhone), and they’ll need to do so seamlessly while introducing new ways to interface with computers (Airpods + Siri)."
While I share Eckler's opinion of Apple's intentions, I believe Apple's odds of success are predicated as much on the practical as on the technical. In order to achieve mass market AR adoption, Apple must attractively address the following points:
PEOPLE ALREADY WEAR GLASSES.
Given the number of us with corrective eyewear, AR glasses must feature prescription lenses in order to achieve mass market adoption. Consumers can currently use all Apple products while wearing their normal corrective eyewear, but AR glasses would fly in the face of that (so to speak). Expecting eyeglass wearers to convert to contacts is wishful thinking, and "eyeglass piggybacking" won't be cool. Most VR headset companies have demonstrated how ignorant (or lazy) the tech sector can be regarding something as obvious as the glasses on your nose. Apple will hopefully be smarter than this.
PEOPLE ALSO WEAR SUNGLASSES.
Sunglasses are another forehead-slapper. Everyone wears them, not only to protect their eyes, but also to look good. VR and fashion have so far operated at opposite ends of the "appeal" spectrum, to the detriment of mass market VR adoption. It isn't that consumers won't pay a premium for VR/AR technology (many would), it's just that most consumers won't pay anything for bulky black masks straight out of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. AR sunglasses will present technical challenges, but are necessary for wearable AR to escape the Nerd Corps and appeal to the general market. Unlike phones and watches, glasses are part of our features and our identity. "Space Gray" thinking won't cut it.
PEOPLE ARE SELF-CONSCIOUS.
Not only are most folks uncomfortable with how they look while wearing VR/AR tech (and rightly so, as everyone frankly looks stupid in an HMD), but most people are also uncomfortable with having cameras surreptitiously pointed at them at close range (though we've grown accustomed to having cameras surreptitiously pointed at us at medium-to-long range). If your AR glasses are nominally more attractive than the obnoxious Google Glass, will the person sitting across from you feel more comfortable under the unblinking gaze of your camera? Would you wear AR glasses to a job interview? Would you wear AR glasses on a date? Would you wear AR glasses through airport security? Would you be allowed to? If Apple concocts an appealing AR paradigm that replaces your prescription glasses, how functional will you be when your prescription AR glasses are tucked away or confiscated, even briefly?
As personal computing becomes wearable and people become cyborgs (you already qualify as one, if you rely on a mobile phone), we'd be wise to address the personal disability we'll incur when our tech is disabled.
Best to start pondering that now, while we're "thinking different."
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