What’s stopping AR? Is it the technology or something simplier to understand…?

Mobile Augmented Reality is it’s time reallly now or 2013? Or 2014? I notice that today for the first time Mobile own space at Adtech mentions AR. Which is nice… but…

Wasn’t AR time meant to be NOW! It was meant to be 2012. Well I thought it would have been and so did Martha Lane Fox when we chatted at GEW 2011.


However, 2012 (more than half way through) I  think we can all safely say was the time of Mobile.

Or at least mobiles “coming of age.” To appease all those in the industry who started off in before 2000!

We can probably add in their social and mobile and apps. Perhaps we can even say:

2012 – the beginning of SoLoMo (and add in geo location…)

But we cannot for sure say it was the year of Augmented Reality.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love mobile marketing and so I love cutting egde stuff – so I love AR as well.

I have the fortune to be there at the beginnings of it’s revival with goAugmented and charted its rapid growth up the hype cycle and over the hump. But…. that was 2010 to 2011.

As my report on the Hype Cycle shows Augmented Reality hasnt moved much in a year. Up the Hype Cycle I mean not in real life – as Blippar in its first year alone has had over a million downloads!  Probably why they have been shortlisted for the most innovative app awards – Most innovative App. See the full shortlist http://bit.ly/QJz2os

Again don’t get me wrong. The platforms are out there. We used 7 of them with goAugmented – the only award winning UK independent developer (a fact I am still proud of…) but the platforms are not the only thing that is needed. Some believe it is the need for standardisation and perhaps even the opening up of them and making some things open source.

But for me it is something a lot more simple than this. 

Techies have got the name all wrong. Augmented Reality!

I blogged about this around 2 years ago – and people still haven’t got what a barrier this is.

If you called the world wide web – the techie name they at first came up with (answers on comments pls…) then no one would have gone near it (apart from techies…)

Same is now with AR. Augmented Reality sounds like hard work, something you do, something you have to understand (and no one does), something which doesn’t flow and is alien. And anything which reminds us of the failures of Virtual Reality – simply conjures up pain (if you are over 30) and amusement (if not…)

Ok again I oversimplfy for fun. But I think I have a point. All of the new tech companies are called something AR, or something augmented, or something clever which you have to explain.

I had this conversation with the co founders of ARbreem for at least 6 months. Finally we settled on something, something easier to remember – goAugmented. But even then I think we aligned too much with the techies. Remember techies are not the people who make the revolution happen. They make the technology which enables it. But not the revolution. 

Clay Shirky said it best when he said (something like) “Technology is best when technology gets out of the way.”

I think it is the same with this clumsy language use.

Some called AR apps now from brands like the Halifax don’t even mention AR. They don’t need to. Nor want to. They just show people holding up phones and going wow.

OK for the non marketing side of the arguement some people are saying something different. Especially the guys at http://www.arlab.com – who have the following to say about technology and growth.


“Augmented Reality for both personal computers and mobile devices is one of the areas that currently promises so much but as it becomes more popular can be felt the lack of a standardization. This means that there is no standard way of creating such Augmented Reality applications and augmented reality developers have to break their minds each time they need an application.

Nowadays, there is no standard way to create Augmented Reality applications, neither PCs nor mobile devices. Companies which develop their own Augmented Reality application with no use of external tools,use proprietary technologies. This means, among other things, that different Augmented Reality apps or even different Augmented Reality modules which belong to an app may be unable to talk to each other and thus share data. There are a lot of proprietary Augmented Reality technologies but there are no open standards.

Standards’ presence in a technology frequently provides a common platform for development and also smoothes operations of a whole system or structure in which different segments contribute to.

Furthermore, this standardization hopefully provides for a robust chain between the segments which belongs to a system. One of the most important consequences of widespread adoption of standards is a baseline of interoperability between developers and content publishers. Another direct consequence of this standardization is the ease of development of client applications. In most technological markets, standards emerge either during or following the establishment of the technology, once a sufficient number of organizations see market and business value in interoperating with the solutions or services that others can provide.

Currently and as a lot of people involved in Augmented Reality know, there are numerous standards that can be used not only in the development but also in the deployment of open AR applications and services. However, due to the lack of an unique standard, there are still important interoperability gaps in the Augmented Reality chain which lead to hard communications between the operations aforementioned. To meet the needs of all the peopled involved in this technology, all of them must collaborate in order to create this common standard. Thus, developers, experts in hardware or content publishers, for example, must “talk the same language” if they want to make possible the standardization of Augmented Reality. So, the enhancement of existing protocols used in different steps of the whole system will yield a common way to manipulate data for augmented reality services.

A lot of promising technologies have been recently developed and integrated in mobile device hardware. This integrated hardware has succesfully increased the processing power in mobile devices, and also the network and memory bandwidth supported by the latest mobile devices and applications have expanded exponentially in recent years. Is also noticeable that there have been huge advances in software frameworks and platforms for mobile application development, which allow developers to create new user experiences very quickly and in a very easy way. Although these developments have strongly accelerated the growth of the number and diversity of mobile Augmented Reality applications, this fast growth has come at a cost and it has important consequences today. There is clearly a lack of standards for implementing mobile AR applications for users of multiple, different platforms and in different use scenarios which will make harder the growth of the technology in next years if no common standard is created.

So perhaps one player should win out. It kinda happened that way with Google and digital search. It could happen with Blippar and Visual Discovery….

Now wait a minute – that’s not a bad name for it ….. now where have I read that before?


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