This post is a distillation of thinking and conversations begun with Mark Domino and Jasper Speicher back in 2009. Despite advances in hardware, not much has changed since then.
Below I’ll make the argument that current state of augmented reality is much like that of the early internet, and that the same issues that confronted the early web are standing in the way of AR’s potentially transformative adoption. I’ll also try to address some of the pitfalls in the possible near-term resolutions to these issues.
There are points of inflection in the growth of technologies — ones where no one individual makes an active decision and yet, collectively, we choose a path that fetters new tech with proprietary interests and limits the potential of its life-altering possibilities. I’m looking at you, landline phones, and you, high-speed internet, and you, too, airlines.
This post is based on the assumption that we are headed, regardless of ownership, for a near future with ubiquitous, always-on AR, widely adopted in all the contexts in which internet-connected smartphones now prevail. From a hardware standpoint, that might mean augmented glasses, contacts, windshields on your car, brain implants, suppositories, or what have you.
If you’re not with me on that premise, much of the below isn’t going to work for you. Maybe someday that argument will get its own post here, but to me the conclusion is foregone sufficiently to that we don’t need to argue the case.