Augmented reality (AR) is surely one of the hottest topics at the moment, yet the technology has actually been around with us for years. It has actually earned a name with revolutionary phone applications such as Pokémon Go or Google Translate offering smartphone users an unforgettable immersive experience. Immersion is not the only point to highlight, though; AR has also brought a new type of communication between AR users and society (other users, brands, etc.). AR also comes with its limitations as the border between the virtual word and the real world is becoming increasingly light, making the tool more addictive, thus dangerous.
Augmented Reality: A New Type of Communication
For many of us, Augmented Reality (AR) might be a new technology but the term exists since the 1990s. Indeed, Augmented Reality was first used for Boeing or US Air Force to train pilots but there were complicated software programs and bulky equipment needed. A few years later in 2008, the technology made more sense when the first AR applications were offered on smartphones. People all over the world could finally enjoy the latest technology. What does Augmented Reality mean?
Augmented Reality is a technology that turns our environment into a digital interface by placing virtual objects in the real world, in real-time. AR is difficult to define because it refers to a specific type of virtual reality. Three main categories of Augmented Reality tools can be distinguished: AR 3D viewers that allow users to place life-size 3D models in his or her environment, AR browsers that enrich your camera display with contextual information, AR gaming that creates immersive experiences with the use of actual surroundings.
This technology showed its utility to users and companies and is consequently improved to enhance and elevate real life scenarios in countless ways. Users seek for new experiences and thus change their habits if they judge the technology enough useful for their everyday’s lives. Companies look for new means to communicate and to make profits. Many major consumer-driven companies are now successfully using augmented reality technology and AR apps to enrich their customers’ experiences and interactions with their brand, to ultimately boost sales. In 2013, IKEA created an AR catalog app to give customers the opportunity to visualize how certain pieces of furniture would fit in their very own homes thanks to the camera function. This IKEA app has the double benefit of helping users to save time as well as creating traffic and boosting sales for the company.
AR advantages are a fact and a lot of companies immediately create unbelievable functions when they are using this technology. Google Translate is the perfect example.
Google Translate: An Impressive Example of Augmented Reality
In January 2015, Google Translate, free multilingual translation tool, integrated to its phone application the augmented reality translation software Word Lens provided by the American private company Quest Visual. This integration made a real improvement on the phone application and it « transformed the mobile device into a powerful translation tool ».
This new feature in Google Translate is easy to use. Users have to tap the camera button, point their phones at the text in a foreign language, and a translation appears on their screens in a matter of seconds. The app also works when users don’t have a data connection because they can download the language they need before heading off on their trip.
However, the app shows that there are still improvements to do because the AR translation tool is uncertain on some points.
« Google Translate still make significant errors that a human translator would never make, like dropping words and mistranslating proper names or rare terms, » says Le and Schuster, researchers on the Google Brain team, « and translating sentences in isolation rather than considering the context of the paragraph or page. There is still a lot of work we can do to serve our users better. »
Augmented reality still has some challenges to overcome but still is really useful. However, in the gaming world, the approach is different and riskier.
Virtual Addiction: Dangers Provided by AR
Are you a watcher or are you a player ? This is Nerve’s movie plot, and it is not so far-fetched when thinking about AR . When we talk about gaming, Augmented Reality depends on what people want to do with it: they can look at the game and test it or play daily with the game and become real addicts.
In July 2016, when the game app Pokémon Go came out, Augmented Reality has been redefined. People started to use cars to speed up the game covering more area and many complaints were made about cyclists crashing into cars and pedestrians. Even more dangerous is the fact that some have broken into a house or took reckless risks to catch a Pokemon.
The AR gaming process put gamers into dangerous paths and shows how far AR can go. Unfortunately, the delicate balance between the virtual world and the real world made some users less aware of the dangers.
The movie Nerve also depicts with perfection how AR could become . It would not be a game brought into a real life but a real life brought into a game. For instance, Pokémon Go is a game that has brought a real technological improvement to create a more immersive experience for players. In the movie Nerve, the player’s life is a game itself and he or she has to execute challenges to earn money and go to the next level. It takes the AR gaming to another level of danger if the addiction becomes too strong. Without any doubts, it would be even scarier and dangerous for our society. And yet, we are not so far from this.
Nerve. Dir. Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost. LionsGate Films, 2016.
Google Translate vs. « La Bamba », Google Inc., 2015.
About Google Translate:
Caufield, Bryan (2010, Feb. 27), Google To Translate Text With Camera Phones. Retrieved from:
About Pokémon Go:
RFI (2016, July. 24), «Pokémon Go»: quand les joueurs se mettent en danger pour tous les attraper. Retrieved from:
Swant, Marty (2016, August. 7), Is Pokemon Go Finally Making Augmented Reality Mainstream?. Retrieved from:
About Augmented Reality:
Augmented Reality Story. Retrieved from:
Lass, Weronika (2015, July. 13), The Future of Augmented Reality: Limitations, Possibilities and Hopes. Retrieved from:
Sena, Pete (2016, Jan. 30), How The Growth Of Mixed Reality Will Change Communication, Collaboration And The Future Of The Workplace. Retrieved from:
How The Growth Of Mixed Reality Will Change Communication, Collaboration And The Future Of The Workplace
About Nerve Movie:
Merry, Stephanie (2016, July. 29), Movie review: Augmented-reality app at the center of the teen thriller « Nerve ». Retrieved from: http://www.denverpost.com/2016/07/29/movie-review-augmented-reality-app-at-the-center-of-the-teen-thriller-nerve/
- Pokemon Go, Niantic
- Converse, Nike, Inc.