Augmented Reality, or AR, is technology that overlays information onto the real world, allowing us to interact with ordinarily abstract data on a physical level. Via a smartphone, we can see information such information superimposed onto our surroundings. Nowhere has this been more influential than Pokémon Go, along with other AR applications and games.
The industry is only expected to swell, and as a result, many different companies, like Apple and Google, are rushing to develop their own AR technology. This includes platforms and toolkits, using which, developers can create new AR apps on their smartphones, with no modifications to the phone being required. The more developers on the respective platforms, the more new and revolutionary ways of putting AR to good use, and thus, more revenue for the companies whose toolkits they use.
The next big development will be to allow two different users to see the same virtual object, in the same space, on their individual devices. Now that isn’t to say that the technology doesn’t already exist, it does. The problem is that at the moment, for two people to see the same object, a scan of the environment is required, and the mapping data is collected. This raises privacy issues, and how companies use, or misuse, personal information has become a huge taking point in recent years. If two users, for example, scan their houses in order to see the same virtual object, and a data breach allows the mapping information to be stolen, for example, then suddenly the inside of one’s home is made common knowledge.
So the trick is to find a way to let two users see the same object, without requiring a scan of one’s current location. From a creative perspective, the phone to phone connectivity would be revolutionary, and open the door to a whole new world of possibilities, from video games and beyond. Imagine, for example, on a construction site. Workers will all be able to see the same underground pipe, which would go a long way to preventing accidents which could cost not only money, but lives. Or two architects who can both see a visual model of the building they are designing on-location, and can therefore streamline the design process. But if one wants to upscale, it isn’t clear how this phone to phone network could support any more than two users, and if it could, whether it would be work properly. And there are privacy issues to consider if the technology is to be fully embraced.
In conclusion, phone to phone AR opens up a lot of possibilities. Video game developers are excited, and the potential applications go far beyond that to all industries. But there are a number of privacy issues to consider, and the security of the user needs to be guaranteed in order for the technology to be adopted.