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Changing Realities for Business by Leah Hunter

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Introduction

The new iPhone was an evolution. The revolution is our ability to more deeply understand and shape reality (with AR and beyond). This is an important moment in that shift.

On June 5, 2017, at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced that one of the biggest features of the new iPhone and iPad would be its augmented reality (AR) capabilities. Earlier in the year, Apple announced that AR was one of its big-budget line items. And when the iPhone launched on September 12, the world of AR shifted entirely.

If Pokémon Go was a tipping point in public awareness of the technology, Apple’s adoption and public support for the technology moves AR into an entirely new realm. With the distribution of ARKit to Apple’s 275,000-plus developers, we are at a new moment in imagining what AR can be and do. Not so much because of what Apple itself created. Rather, the shift is because of the door it threw open by sheer virtue of its size.

Although Apple’s much-touted foray into AR did not propel us instantly into a holographic world, it did open the door wide for the field. There is new impetus for other players in hardware and software to make AR a priority. More money, attention, and effort are going in the direction of AR. There is also new public awareness that has pushed forward HoloLens, Google’s Daydream phone and ARCore (and the early and rapidly improving AR experiences created with the tool), Snapchat glasses, and all of the cute Facebook AR Studio masks and tools. CES coverage from 2018 shows that AR is just beginning to trickle into mainstream press and awareness—an indicator that it is spreading, even as it evolves. However, this is far from the beginning of AR as a technology. This is just the beginning of its J-curve-upswing-in-utility outside of the manufacturing world. It is also a moment where more and more businesses and industries are using AR. And tablets, glasses, and holographic techniques are getting more sophisticated.

That is to say, the big promise of AR is starting to be realized: technology is catching up and businesses are catching on.

Even though industrial AR has been the most valuable segment of the AR world (showing real savings of time and money)—a topic I explored in my previous book—other areas are on the rise. Retail, architecture, art, and consumer AR applications are growing in popularity. In this book, we explore those areas and others that are beginning to develop. We also look at case studies of how big-money companies and research-level makers are using AR as well as some deep research on technologies and techniques you should know because they’re shaping how AR is changing right now. And, finally, we take a much higher look at what’s coming in the future—at not only the technology, but also how to develop it wisely, mindfully, and interestingly, and what ideas might help stretch our brains—and hearts—to do that.

This is a fresh and broader look at AR. How does this technology integrate with your company and your technology stack? How do you sell it in? What is going on outside of the industry (and typical thinking) that will determine how it develops?

This book will provide you with the following:

  • Deeper awareness of the big ideas, emerging trends, and advances in AR. This will be not just the latest information, given that tech changes fast. (We might update this book in 18 months.) Rather, it will be the most interesting, particularly for anyone surveying the space.

  • Insider information about how other companies are thinking about and using AR (case studies and exclusive interviews with big thinkers in the space).

  • Fresh ideas about how to build a smart business strategy as AR becomes used more broadly (to save time and money).

  • Technical knowledge on how to build content for service-focused AR.

  • Ways to think about AR—as a technologist and a human—and consider the ethical questions around using and building the technology.

This is partly a technology book for people implementing novel technologies (or trying to update thinking in companies that want to become more progressive). It is also partly a look at how AR interweaves with business and with life. That comes, in part, from access to content and thinkers—for this book, I interviewed 23 notable AR-focused developers, investors, artists, and explorers. It also comes from my work looking at the future of the space, which, you’ll see, has a very different focus than many AR books insomuch as it draws from the worlds of physics, neuroscience, and social theory as well as AR. My slant is not as a technologist but as a business strategist, a humanist, a journalist, and a being who loves to learn. Accordingly, I’ve also woven in links and research so that you can dig deeper and discover more on your own.

Regardless of whether you intend to build tools, you do need to consider the effects of AR on your business; it is a useful new tool to have in your field of vision. There is an eagle on the cover of this book for a reason: eagle eyes are the perfect metaphor for seeing things with laser clarity from an “impossible” distance. They are a symbol of vision and victory. And, with their super-strong talons held out while they dive to catch prey, they are all about catching opportunities at exactly the right moment.

Staying abreast of emerging technologies now—AR and others—sets you up for success. Even when they are still forming, these new technologies contain kernels of progress and core technologies that will change our world and technology landscape. Discovering those now will give you a higher and more powerful view of what is possible for you.

A head start is always good.

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