By Chuck Martin
Augmented reality, which has been kicking around for years, owes a lot to Pokémon Go.
A few years ago, I met with Layar tops execs at their headquarters in Amsterdam. Layar, one of the early AR pioneers, had launched AR back in 2009 for apartment searching.
The idea was that a phone could be pointed at a building and the phone holder would see information and pricing of each apartment for rent or sale, as text overlayed on the phone screen showing the building via the phone’s camera.
That particular application never caught on in a big way.
Layar ultimately was acquired by UK startup Blippar in 2014, growing the base of Blippar AR users.
Uses were pretty well confined to those in the know or those who happened to come across magazine promotions that incorporated AR with a quick scan of a code to make additional information appear to augment the reality of what was on the page.
And now Pokémon Go has taken AR to the masses.
Fittingly, there was no promotion suggesting that augmented reality is being used to show digital characters in the physical environment.
In the Internet of Things, it’s not about the technology, it’s about the experience.
And that is a lesson for anyone involved in introducing or promoting IoT consumer products.
There are several reasons for the Pokémon Go AR phenomenon.
The technology has matured enough so that location and connections are more reliable and phone speed and graphics allow more real time interactions.
This is a boost for augmented reality overall.
“People are now getting used to how the technology works,” said Jordan Edelson, CEO of Appetizer Mobile, a mobile app development agency.
“There also was existing branding with a fanatical following with Pokémon go,” Edelson said.
In addition to consumer applications, augmented reality has been in use for various business applications, such as adding data over instruction manuals or for complex troubleshooting.
At a recent multi-day IoT conference I attended in Boston, PTC demonstrated AR technology being used to diagnose and repair large Caterpillar generators in the field, which is about as industrial strength as you can get.
But the numbers for AR in business are nothing like those around Pokémon Go.
For example, the total market forecast for AR in business is $6 billion by 2021, according to the latest report from Index AR Solutions.
Meanwhile, various reports have Pokémon Go being played daily on more than half of Android phones in the U.S.
That is scale.
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