Just ten years ago, the idea that nearly everyone would carry around a pocket-sized device that could access the internet, send emails, make video calls, and manage your stock portfolio might have been difficult to imagine. Yet smartphones, after quickly replacing those ancient flip-phones that were once all the rage, are now a tangible reality.
Now, the latest advancements in technology suggest that the next big thing could just as rapidly take the place of the trusty smartphone that’s sitting comfortably in your pocket. And that big idea is augmented reality.
What Is Augmented Reality?
You’re probably already familiar with “virtual reality” video games and headsets that blur the lines between what is real and what is in the game. This is an example of augmented reality–a technology that combines computer-generated information with your perception of reality. Working from this definition, the possibilities and implications for augmented reality platforms truly are limitless.
In a 2017 article by Jade Scipioni called “How Apple may Kill the Smartphone in 10 Years,” she quotes Apple analyst Gene Munster, who says Apple is poised to tap into this technology and make augmented reality just as widely known and accessible as smartphones are today. Munster believes that within the next decade, augmented reality will completely replace smartphones as we currently know them.
The Apple ARKit
Whether or not devices with augmented reality capabilities will take the world by storm as quickly as Munster predicts is still yet to be determined. What we do know for sure, however, is that Apple has already announced its plans to release the ARKit tool for iOS platforms. ARKit will allow for what Apple calls “fast and stable motion tracking” that essentially makes computer-based images and objects appear to exist in real space (Scipioni).
For example, users would be able to interact with their smartphone in 3-dimensional situations that were never possible before, such as placing a teacup on the flat surface of a table that has been mapped out using augmented reality software.
While the demo for ARKit is due to be released as a game later this year, according to Apple’s announcement, don’t expect the smartphone world to turn on its axis overnight. In fact, Google has already released a similar augmented reality platform called Tango, although it is only currently available on a few select Android smartphones. Once Apple releases ARKit, all iOS devices will have access to this new technology.
The Bottom Line
Augmented reality is one of the most exciting new technological advancements since the advent of smartphones. That said, because these new platforms are going to first become available as smartphone apps, games, and add-ons, it’s not quite time to toss your smartphone aside. Rather than entirely replacing smartphones overnight, it’s more realistic to predict that augmented reality technology will be gradually implemented into the same smartphones, tablets, and other devices that the general population already owns.
In short, augmented reality is on the horizon and will be making its Apple debut sometime this year. But hang onto your smartphone, at least for now, because it’s not going anywhere just yet.
Scipioni, Jade. “How Apple may Kill the Smartphone in 10 Years: Gene Munster.” Fox Business, www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/06/06/how-apple-may-kill-smartphone-in-10-years-gene-munster.html. Accessed 11 June 2017.