People rent comedies to watch on TV as opposed to seeing a summer blockbuster like Star Trek on the big screen. The choice of screens will matter similiarly for augmented reality.
The type of screen sets the stage for the users experience. The viewport creates the space that we can draw our ideas upon. Will it be seen as a peephole through the theater door, a front row seat during a bombastic play or will you be thrown into the action like a civil war reenactment?
I will explore four types of screens. Each presents a different stage to be used in different ways.
Cellphone (the peephole) – Cellphones like the iPhone or the Android will give us a window into an AR world. Unfortunately, the window will be small. But like an ant that can lift an object a hundred times its weight, the cellphone will prove to be a powerful window because it goes where ever we go. The limited view and mobility means it will primarily be a window of information.
Personal Computer (the gimmick) – The PC is the lost child of AR screens. Too small to be useful in house, but too big to be portable. The static information contained within our rooms means the PCs function will be only as an gimmicky toy as we’ve seen with countless lame marketing AR products that don’t do anything.
Big Screen TV (the theater) – The Big Screen TV combined with a good console can turn the living room into a theater of imagination. As I’ve explained in previous posts about miniature games or roller coaster simulators, the wide screen and space to move around creates an experience the whole family can enjoy, much as the Wii has done.
Glasses (all the world’s a stage) – When glasses become available they will allow for the whole world to become a stage to create in. They can utilize the best features of the other three while trumping them with an experience only seen through glasses.
So as developers think about AR products consider the stage the it will play its part upon. Otherwise your product will get lost in the plastic scenery.