While we augmented reality aficionados would like to believe that AR has hit its stride, the nascent technology is no where near the level of 3D movies and TVs. This all may change in the future, but for now the 3D movement far outweighs AR.
This isn’t so bad as I believe, and will try to explain, how the change to 3D TVs and movies will help augmented reality:
1) Augmented reality is just 3D unhinged from a screen
The first and most obvious reason is that augmented reality by its nature exists in a three dimensional space (though in its current iteration we often see 2D sprites hovering in the air.) So products like 3D movies, TVs, and games will help drive interest in bringing an immersive 3D experience like augmented reality to consumers, as opposed to the 3D view within a flat screen that current 3D offers. Why be stuck with a screen when you can enhance the whole space around you?
2) Why not augmented plays?
I’m having a hard time imagining what an augmented reality movie would look like. It seems extraneous to add that space in the theater to the story telling medium because that space is a part of your life rather than the story in the screen.
Plays on the other hand could benefit greatly from augmented reality. What 3D is doing for the movies, I could see AR doing for plays. Theater typically breaks the fourth wall during its performances, letting the audience in the secret or involving them, even if its just through thunderous applause.
So what if every seat had AR glasses (they could be a little bulky for a two hour experience right?) and the players interacted with this 3D immersive medium? The type of material presented in that format could be wildly expanded and new forms of storytelling could emerge.
(Picture from Armida!)
3) 3D Glasses –> AR Glasses
Let’s be real. Ten years ago, someone with a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant for those that don’t remember the 90s) was considered pretty nerdy. Wearing one on your belt was the equivalent of the pocket protector.
Flash forward to 2010 and one of the big concerns for AR glasses is the style. Does anyone remember the early versions of the Blackberry? I felt like I was wearing a frisbee on my hip or that I had a side-holster with a six shooter in it. If it’s functional and not too bulky (i.e. – neck ache) then it’ll be a hit.
The 3D glasses we start buying for our TVs and games will help bridge that fashion gap. Who cares what you look like when you’re used to wearing them at home in front of the TV? Just convince Lady Gaga to wear a pair of bulky AR glasses as a fashion statement and Vuzix will be trying to make them bigger (which brings me to the thought that Lady Gaga is probably just dying to get freaky with some AR.)