Website Design, Strategy, Social Networking, SEO, Susan Pomeroy, Ph.D.

"Augmented Reality" Is Coming… And It Will Change Your Business

by Susan Pomeroy

Augmented reality via cell phone video

Imagine that instead of looking at an online street map, you’re looking at “real reality” through a special high-tech set of glasses. As you look at the objects around you, you see pieces of information visually super-imposed upon their images. Look at a building, and you suddenly see, in print that appears in your visual field, when the structure was built, who owns it, how many units it has, whether it’s for sale, its latest property tax assessment. Look at a person, and the device displays what social networks she or he belongs to to, their CV, publications, workplace, position, etc. Focus on a print publication, and your visual display might automatically pull up photos, videos, maps and wikipedia entries directly related to the topic. And, you can “click” any of these informational displays to dig deeper.

Can you imagine living 24/7 in this kind of “total information awareness,” where the real world is not just hard, unyielding and impenetrable—instead, it’s laden with hidden dimensions and information? It would feel like having ESP, or X-ray vision, or a perpetual personal research assistant.

Think this sounds a bit futuristic? Not by much.  Check in out here, http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/09/20/three-videos-of-augmented-reality-for-business/.

How Will Augmented Reality Change Your Business?

Usually, successful early innovators become rich. Who will they be? Think about it. Who is poised to combine the most online data with the most advanced and ubiquitous geographic database around? If you’re saying “Google,” I’m with you. So, number one, we all might consider buying stock in the Big G. And creative entrepreneurs and programmers who know how Google works, and are able to use it, will have a huge opportunity to become very innovative.

Secondly, if your business web site is “googleized” now (Google Sites, Google Analytics, Google Toolbar, etc.), you can bet that any data they have on you will be deployed via… what shall we call it, Google Reality? I have a hunch we’ll all want to be much more careful about managing our business information.

Third, remember those thick old things called phone books? If we haven’t already tossed ’em, we might as well. Imagine layers of geographically keyed business information that is visually accessible merely by “looking” at a storefront or street. This info may be offered by different, competing networks to start with. Who will your business pay, and how much, to be listed?

Does your business have a storefront? Is it urban, rural, in a mall? It’s easy to imagine lesser-trafficked and rural areas being informational backwaters. But will parts of cities be “off the information grid” because they’re commercially dead? The disincentives for locating a business in an “information ghetto” might shift entire trajectories of urban growth and development.

What about businesses that are mostly virtual already? Right now, your business is probably turning to Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc. These networks currently have rudimentary communications and connections among them. Imagine total integration and ready accessibility. What information about our business do we put out there, and how much control do we have over it? How much personal information do we want visible, and will we have any control over that? What information already is online, and will be mined and displayed to all comers, with no digging necessary? This issue isn’t going away, and it’s going to get worse.

And finally, certain occupations could become totally transformed. Buying, selling, and developing real estate. Web design. Advertising. Information sciences. Teaching. Probably your own occupation, once you start thinking about it.

The Uh-Oh Factor

On the minus side, it’s all too easy to imagine everyone being implanted with a readable chip containing personal information, financial data, medical history, current location… so, walk down the street, and any anyone with appropriate access or equipment can “see” who you are and what your info is. Medical emergency? The EMTs “see” your previous medical issues—and even your current vitals—as they visually assess you. Credit check? A bank merely obtains clearance to read your chip.

In terms of privacy, “identity theft” might not be a metaphor anymore. Can you imagine it? “Oh my god, I’ve been hacked!”

I can easily visualize a whole generation of folks slipping ever-deeper into this seductive information soup, swimming in it comfortably and competently…  and in the process unknowingly, or uncaringly, sacrificing yet another layer of that quaint old right called privacy.

What’s Next?

Have you been left in the dust by technology already? Have you missed being an “early adopter” of the last “big thing” that came along and transformed the business landscape? This might be your chance to make up for it. New business and social models will arise that we can’t even imagine today. Which is why now is the time to start imagining them.

Want to see what augmented reality might look like? Take a look at these three short videos:

Augmented Reality in Education

Augmented Reality in Business—Social Data

Read more about augmented reality here:

Augmented Reality for BART Users in San Francisco
Augmented Reality Now, on Your I-Phone
Augmented Reality is Coming… And It Will Change Your Business

Share what you think about where this could go.

 

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