Smartphones have undergone transformations on a yearly basis since the term smartphone was first used in 1995; however, the first true smartphone was created in 1992 by IBM and was called the Simon Personal Communicator. 

Today, businesses are constantly trying to beat out their competition by improving on their smartphones as well as coming up with apps that can only be used through their operating system.  One trend that has caught the attention of consumers and companies is Virtual Reality. 

Besides seeing the variety of head gears being created to accommodate the use of VR, apps and smartphones are being adapted for customers to be able to experience things like skiing down a mountain without having to leave your home.  While there seems to be a battle over which product can offer the best VR experience, another battle of technology has been brewing over another popular trend known as Augmented Reality.


AR has been around long enough that most people are familiar with it but not long enough that it has been used for its’ full potential.  Companies like Apple and Samsung are looking for ways they can capitalize on it and a recent report is suggesting that Facebook is willing to throw their hat into this arena.  No matter which business succeeds in cornering the market on AR, the ultimate winner will be the consumers who are seeking new products and apps that will provide the best Augmented Reality experience. 

Yet, there is still an untapped reservoir of consumers who either are unfamiliar with what AR is or have not been tempted enough to try it.  Our conversation today will look at what Augmented Reality is and why businesses are battling over this technology.

What is Augmented Reality?

Let us start off by defining what this type of technology is.  AR is a live indirect or direct view of a real-world, physical environment which its’ elements are augmented by sensory input that is computer-generated such as GPS data, sound, graphics or video.  One example of this is the popular video game called Pokémon Go, where players battle creatures on their iOS or Android devices at an actual location but the augmented reality makes it look like what is on your screen appear real but it doesn’t physically exist.

Millions of players have logged in to play solo adventures or go up against another player and battle for supremacy.  While AR is commonly used on someone’s smartphone or tablet, another way to experience this is wearing a headset that usually supports augmented and virtual reality so that the user can play with both technologies.  Understand what AR means is the first step in understanding why people want to try it; however, there is more to this technology regarding how companies plan on using this that would increase their profit margin.

The Many Faces of Augmented Reality

Even though Pokémon Go is one area that AR is known for, other applications are being considered in the hopes that consumers will want to try it.  Facebook has been involved in rumors that the company is working on technology in the hopes of creating their own version of a smart speaker and glasses that would support augmented reality. 

The AR glasses are one step closer to becoming a reality as Quartz has reported discovering a patent for such a product.  This recent patent suggests the social media giant is creating an AR-based glass that contains a waveguide display with two-dimensional scanner.  Furthermore, it appears the glasses will include a transparent display and the patent includes how in the display light will flow into it as it reaches the eye of the user.  Facebook, if successful, could have a product that many users of AR will certainly want to try.

Another way that Augmented Reality is being used is for shopping.  Although Apple is working hard on applying this concept to make it more realistic, there has been uses where a potential customer can use an app that would project the item wanting to be purchased, like a couch, onto a specific spot in their home to see how it would look and if it would fit. 

IKEA has their own app just for this purpose and in June of this year, the franchise announced a partnership with Apple so that a more comprehensive app can be created using AR to make a better shopping experience.  The success of this would create a totally new shopping experience for furniture and possibly expanded to include other items that customers would want to purchase.

The Future of Augmented Reality

There are many products over the decades that have come and go where they have been classified as a fad.  Some may have thought the same thing when looking at certain items dealing with technology, such as when the smartphone screen increased in size and many thought no one would want to use something that big; newsflash, they were wrong.  There is a truth within technology, for example, that what is classified as the best computer today will be downgraded six months to a year in the future. 

However, concepts of virtual and augmented reality should not be considered as fads but will become a fixture in our society so long as businesses come up with ways to make the consumer as for more.  While AR has proven to be successful in the entertainment field, there are other areas that have not yet been considered or thoroughly used in a specific field.

Previously, I have described how augmented reality is being used in Education in school as well as at home.  The technique and products used make learning informative and entertaining so that the student will want to learn more.  Yet, this technology can be expanded in being used in higher grade levels, such as in college or even on-the-site training. 

There could be areas in medicine where augmented reality could be beneficial to a doctor or patient, depending on the situation.  Whatever the future holds, it seems there will be an ongoing battle for companies to provide the best AR experience possible that is not limited to just entertainment as well as becoming anything but just a passing fad.