The coming revolution: Augmented Reality

I’m Baz and I use software to help stressed, overworkedbusiness owners get organised and get paid faster.

I’m writing this at the start of September. By the time you read this, Apple will probably have announced the new iPhones (these letters are written in advance). And, if the rumours are to be believed, they will include new “Augmented Reality” features.

What is this?

Well, you’ve probably seen Pokemon Go. Where you go to a place in the real world, look at it through your phone and there’s a Pokemon staring back at you. Now imagine that, but instead of just standing on the floor, the Pokemon (or whatever) reacts to the objects around in the room. So if it were walking towards you, it would climb up onto the table, then step down off it, at the right points.

Technically, this is really complicated stuff. Your phone needs to scan the room and figure out where all the objects are. Then figure out which bits are surfaces, which are edges, what those things might be. And then it needs to draw your “creature” in the right place, with the correct parts obscured from view, hidden behind those real-world objects.

The uses for this are fantastic – at its simplest, Ikea already has a version of its catalogue, where you can select an item of furniture, move it around your room, then walk about to see how it looks from all angles. There’s even a tape-measure app – point your phone at an object, move it along the length of the object and it can tell you exactly what size it is, to a fraction of a millimetre.

But that’s just the beginning. Imagine when your car windscreen can show you the dangers that are around the corner. Or if your glasses could show you signposts so you always know where you are.

The technology has come a long way, and still has a long way to go – but we’re on the cusp of something amazing.