Augmented Reality – Is seeing believing?

Is Augmented Reality advertised incorrectly? Are consumers being promised something undeliverable?


What’s the issue?

Wait a minute. You can’t really do that can you?!

I came onboard at CGEye a couple of months ago to look after the company’s social media accounts. Part of that involved familiarising myself with the world of Augmented Reality, since our RiseAR brand is a very important part of what we do.

In the past few weeks something has come to my attention which appears to be a potentially big issue for Augmented Reality. The issue isn’t obvious, in fact it’s very subtle. Nevertheless, some people might potentially be getting into a situation where they expect something they can’t get. The issue in question Is false or misleading advertising, or at least I’d like to call it that. Now picture this: You see an advert for an AR app for the very first time on the TV or on a Social media channel. In the advert there’s a 3rd person view of a man holding up his phone and looking around with a shocked/ecstatic expression on his face while all these colourful and eccentric holographic images pop out of his phone screen and dance around.

Now to a lot of people this will go unnoticed, but the big point here is those images don’t physically come out of your phone screen. If you know AR well enough, you know that these images are what you would see through your phone screen, appearing as part of the real world. This will be obvious to many, but for those unfamiliar with AR we need to manage expectations. As far as I know there’s currently no way to make imagery pop-up from a screen in 3D when viewed with the naked eye.

Why this is a problem

The problem is quite clear: In its attempt to generate more interest in the technology, some factions of the AR industry have, shall we say, stretched the truth a little. But a bigger problem is that this isn’t something I’ve seen once or twice. In fact, a fair percentage of Augmented Reality advertisements & videos across social platforms seem to follow the same concept.

Too much of it is staged to look better than it really is. AR is difficult to communicate to a mass audience (after all mobile AR is designed to be a solitary user experience for now) and it’s understandable that AR creators will want to embellish things to wow potential consumers, but it’s important not to mislead. As someone who has only just discovered the world of AR (a newcomer to CGEye and RiseAR) I was once fooled by this also. Consumers are still confused about AR, as this blog explains nicely.

The AR market is growing immensely and some high-profile companies are getting involved. If trust in the products on offer is to be gained, then we need to be honest with the people we’re trying to gain trust from, i.e. consumers.

To sum it all up, as a newcomer to all of this, I am concerned that customers in the AR space risk being led up the garden path.  There are some amazing AR products out there making a real difference, but perhaps a rethink is needed as to how we tell these stories. People need to see its greatness and not be left disappointed because after all, the future of AR may depend on it.