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Augmented Reality a reality in 2010?

December 31, 2009

At a time when satisfaction with the mobile internet in general hasn’t improved much in 2009 comes the prediction that 2010 will be the year of augmented reality. If you don’t know what augmented reality (AR) is here’s an excerpt from a December 31, 2009 article by Wailin Wong in the LA Times:

In the sci-fi films, a cyborg is able to scan its surrounding area and superimpose data on what it sees, which allows it to get background information on humans. Now, after years of use in academic and industrial circles — not to mention science fiction — augmented reality is coming to consumers, who can expect to see it in their everyday lives in 2010.

So, the augmented reality on a mobile phone story goes that you will aim your video camera on your phone at the surrounding area and all sorts of data about your surroundings is supposed to be superimposed on your phone’s screen.

Right about here I feel like Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Big when he raises his hand and says “I don’t get it.”

Beyond the fact that I get dizzy thinking about how this will affect my balance when I’m doing this is the notion that I don’t do this today at all, and AR wasn’t really on my list of things which I think will improve my mobile internet experience.

Is this just another case of “isn’t this cool” chasing after a use case? I vote yes.

Here’s a quote from the same article from a gentleman at Yelp speaking about their attempt at AR, a downloadable app called Monocle:

“We’ve learned that it’s really hard to do this well,” said Yelp product manager Eric Singley. “A lot of people are jumping into the game. They find there’s a level of polish that needs to happen . . . otherwise, it’s confusing, messy and jarring.”

On the go and on a mobile phone, “confusing”, “messy” and “jarring” means they won’t come back and will likely not use the app.

It’s my fervent belief that on the go and on a mobile phone the experience needs to be familiar, fast to load, simple and informative. I don’t see AR doing any of this.

Take the Wii for example. The good folks at Nintendo sell more Wiis than Xbox and PS3 combined. The games are simple and can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone. We saw the same things at Sprint with retro versions of classic arcade games and simple puzzle games out-selling the more complicated games like some of the first-person shooter games.

So, I’m not jumping on the AR bandwagon anytime soon and I predict some confusing, messy and jarring AR products will appear, get funded and then hang around looking for a use case in 2010 and beyond.

Simple is the new elegant and this has never been more true than on the mobile internet.

Our resolution for Ruxter in 2010 is to keep it simple, fast and easy to use and to help anyone who wants to be part of the mobile internet get a free site and share it with anyone they want.

Dale Knoop is the President of Ruxter, a mobile multimedia patents holder and an industry-recognized pioneer of mobile data services. In 2005 Dale won an Emmy while serving as the GM for Sprint TV. In August 2009 he launched Ruxter which allows anyone to quickly and easily become part of the rapidly growing mobile internet with a free, fully optimized mobile website they can share with anyone. You can contact him here. Follow Ruxter on Twitter.

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