The Future of Augmented Reality

As I noted in my first post on augmented reality here on ClickZ, the real world and the virtual world are increasingly merging into one. This trend is quickly moving from a novelty, to an expected and relied upon experience to make informed decisions and enhance user engagement. Optimization is integral to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and it is going to require a revisit of method and procedure to ensure discoverability.

What’s clear with the transition from desktop to mobile is that so many were caught off guard with the dramatic impact on the competitive landscape. As a result, every tech and media company is going to have to prepare for the possibility that VR and AR will become the next big platforms.

In the past few months:

  • Apple acquired Metaio, an AR startup.
  • Google’s I/O conference highlighted Cardboard, a VR platform for mobile phones.
  • Google led a $500 million investment in Magic Leap, an AR company.
  • Facebook’s Oculus Rift debuted the VR film Henry.
  • Microsoft HoloLens is now a fully untethered holographic computer.

Let’s examine the horsepower behind AR and VR right now. Google is conducting advanced experimentation with the tools needed to make VR and AR real today. Their Project Tango tablet development platform is enabled with a number of cameras and motion sensors, enabling it to track and map its surroundings in real-time. It’s capable of area learning, motion tracking, and depth perception, all on the fly. According to Forbes, “Developers can achieve some amazing effects and address certain use cases that were previously not possible. From virtual, guided tours of buildings for real estate and other applications, to simulation environments that offer a natural user view with panning and control that can be achieved just by moving the tablet in space.”

So, what’s the SEO and general marketing upheaval linked to augmented and virtual reality? David Amerland, author of Google Semantic Search, states that “augmented reality uses semantic technologies to introduce a structured, information-rich layer into the real world environment.” It must all be keyword-researched, and discoverable by search engines and the searcher. We also must give the user the ability to leave their own mark in the augmented world via content insertion. According to Amerland, whether this appears as extra information, 3D models popping forth from projectors inside devices, or immaterial overlay generated from AR or VR visors, what matters is that the fundamental functions that render semantic search – Object Recognition, Entity Extraction, and End-User Intent Awareness – are at work.

VR is a much more difficult technological nut to crack than the traditional web. Since VR is an exercise in making the digitized world appear like the real world, you can actually use today’s search and SEO processes to, once new platforms will support it, insert organic and paid advertising plus marketing messages to drive lead generation.

While AR and VR are not prominent today, I wouldn’t rule out a near future in which AR and PR platforms rule the digital universe. Think about passionate marketers who want to deliver amazing and personal content to their customers; what could be more incredible than being in a virtual reality environment, engaging with relevant content and movie-like stories? Imagine the mobile apps that will be generated for AR/VR – who wouldn’t download and use them? A panel of AR/VR experts gathered at the Neurogaming Conference this past May had the combined opinion that, “The rapid rise of VR technology, the sheer number of companies developing AR devices and applications, and the potential it has to replace other forms of computing (a lot of dollars to be made as a form factor is replaced) suggest AR has a significant role to play in our future. All things considered, the burning question is not whether AR devices will become mainstream, but when.”

How does your mobile strategy stack up to the impending rush of AR and VR software and tools? You might want to give it some thought.

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