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5 Cool Uses of Augmented Reality 2.0 (Now With Computer Vision!)

 

For some time now, augmented reality (AR) has been one of Silicon Valley’s most talked-about new technologies, but the accessibility of the tech has been limited at best—stuff like Snapchat filters that just stick a few animations on faces, or Pokémon Go-like games that use the player’s location to spawn AR characters rather than actually “see” what’s around them.

Recent developments, however, look to change all that. Google’s Tango technology, currently available in Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro and Asus’s Zenfone AR smartphones, uses computer vision to enable mobile devices to detect their position relative to the world around them (this is achieved through a combination of multiple depth-sensing cameras, accelerometers and machine learning algorithms—without relying exclusively on GPS or other external signals). This allows app developers to create breakthrough experiences like indoor navigation, 3D mapping and measurement of physical space, and environmental recognition, thus blurring the boundaries between the real and the synthetic by placing users in virtual environments and bringing virtual objects into the real world.

Now, with the wider launch of Google ARcore and Apple’s ARKit—both of which are able to use the existing cameras and sensors on most current smartphones—augmented reality 2.0 is coming to an Android or iOS device near you. In the coming months, we’ll start to see applications that go well beyond Pokémon Go or Snapchat selfie whiskers. Essentially, our smartphones will soon be enhanced by proper computer vision tech that enables them to more completely and accurately interpret the world around them, rather than imprecisely (and sometimes haphazardly) projecting disembodied virtual objects or skins onto the immediate environment.

Along with technologies such as Google’s recently unveiled Lens (which lets mobile devices do things like read street signs and crop out unwanted objects from photos), AR 2.0 is primed to change how we perceive and interact with the physical world around us. This, of course, has implications for brands and marketers, that must capitalize on ways to incorporate everything from advertising and branding to shopping assistance and customer service into this new and increasingly robust medium. Here are a few of the most compelling and promising uses of AR 2.0 from 2017 so far, all of which offer a glimpse into how brands might augment their use of the technology in the very near future.