AR provides some exciting prospects. From advertising, as in Project 1, to full scale AR theme parks experiences to making technology more accessible to users with disabilities. Installing Unity and going through the Vuforia tutorial is easy enough and results in an impressive result. There are some possible obstacles to general development, however. For one, each image target requires remote processing on Vuforia’s servers. This means that any target updates that the developer pushes out requires both a rebuild of the project and a rebuild of the database by Vuforia. Second, real-time AR would be difficult for the above reason. For AR to provide the most benefit, frameworks should have the ability to dynamically push targets to edge devices since the world changes almost daily (product labels, shapes of cars, etc). In the future, there might also be a disconnect between what people perceive as being real versus what is real. As photorealistic renderings keep getting better, it would be easier to trick a user into thinking what they are seeing as real. Additionally, developers cannot fully control the physical environment that the user is in. If there is wind, the image target could be distorted. If there is a lot of noise, audio cues could go unnoticed. If the user is in their home, it would be difficult to create a forest environment.
For now, AR is the most feasible through a mobile device. The cost of devices is constantly decreasing, creating a high user base and making the technology more accessible. Additionally, with apps like Pokémon Go and Snapchat holding their popularity, there is clear consumer demand for them. It is also easy for developers to create applications targeting phones since high-level frameworks, like Vuforia and AR Kit, abstract the computer vision problems away from the developer. There are some downsides though. These apps have also proven that safety is an issue. Since the virtual overlay is only accessible through the screen, it is where users focus which, potentially, causes a lack of awareness of actual reality. This ranges from someone bumping into things to walking to an unsafe area.
AR though glasses would provide the most seamless experience since it would cover most users’ field of vision. Interactions would also have the potential to be the most natural as both hands would be free. Both enhance the safety of the user. Privacy could be more of an issue here than with a phone. Since AR requires cameras that provide a clear image of the environment, anytime the user would be wearing the glasses, the physical space the user is in is being recorded. Think of all the places that humans were glasses. It is not acceptable to be wearing a camera in all those spaces. The Google Glass pushback proved that this is an issue that society is concerned about. Comfort might also be an issue. To provide the best experience, a lot of processing power would be needed. This could lead to bulky glasses, or glasses that must be tethered (wired or wireless) to a nearby machine.