Everything to Know About “Augmented Reality,” Apple’s Next Frontier

Everything to Know About “Augmented Reality,” Apple’s Next Frontier

Personal technology may be radically different in just a decade.

Personal technology may be radically different in just a decade.

Text: Thomas Freeman

Apple may be quietly admitting that the iPhone has isolated us from life beyond the screen. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is gunning that its next major innovation will come from “augmented reality,” which is meant to work in tandem with users’ environments.

Think about it. When you check your iPhone, you must look down at a screen, which impedes your ability to engage with the outside world. However, a pair of “augmented reality” glasses would overlay digital information onto real-life environments, thereby making digital technology less intrusive and more cohesive with ordinary life.

This is markedly different from “virtual reality,” which offers users an escape into a completely immersive experience. AR would benefit information exchange while VR is typically for entertainment.

In a 2016 TED Talk, neuroscientist and tech entrepreneur Meron Gribetz described how augmented reality will ideally “evolve our social cognitions” rather than hinder them, as smartphones and computers have done.

“In the next few years, humanity is gonna go through a shift, I think. We’re gonna start putting an entire layer of digital information on the real world. Just imagine for a moment what this could mean for storytellers, for painters, for brain surgeons, for interior decorators,” Gribetz said.

“What I think we need to do as a community is really try and make an effort to imagine how we can create this new reality in a way that extends the human experience instead of gamifying our reality or cluttering it with digital information.”

According to Bloomberg, Tim Cook has already amassed a team of pioneering engineers, including the minds behind the Oculus and HoloLens VR headsets. Tim Cook even once said that we will soon "have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you."

The global market for AR technology will grow 80 percent by 2024 to $165 billion, meaning a successful approach to AR would be a major windfall for Apple. Much of this may depend on whether they can make the glasses look a little less dweeby than the Google Glass.

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