By Meg Sharpley
In the beautiful city of Toronto, everyone has their heads down. We walk past historic buildings, under floral awnings and through the aroma of freshly made backed goods. Not an eyebrow is raised, a gaze adverted or a word mumbled. Is this our new reality?
Over the past month, Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. With headlines proclaiming health risks (and advantages), distracted driving incidents, Craiglist’s ride sharing ads and warnings to stay out of your neighbours yards, everyone continues to play, completely immersed in this new reality.
However, this reality isn’t all that new. In fact, augmented reality (AR) as it’s called, dates back to the late 1990’s. With AR, users see the real world in addition to computer generated images. These images are overlaid on various objects within the real world, just as you can do when catching Pokemon and even face-swapping on Snapchat. Although it isn’t all that new, experts argue that Pokemon Go will help to make AR mainstream. So what does that mean for our reality?
Well, first of all, the concept of AR is here to stay. Its’ benefits are far-fetching for our economy and the many industries within it. The marketing industry will benefit from targeted ad revenue, retail outlets will benefit from enhanced e-commerce experiences, healthcare will benefit from advanced treatment options and the finance industry will benefit from cost optimization.
For those of us in the fashion and design industry, the effects have already begun to make their mark. According to a 2013 study by Alert Technologies, 67% of shoppers that enter brick-and-mortar dressing or showrooms will become buyers. However, with more people relying on the convenience of online shopping, retailers have been forced to adapt. In 2013, Ikea debuted their AR Catalogue that enabled shoppers to visualize how certain pieces of furniture would look inside their home. In 2014, Topshop introduced virtual dressing rooms and more recently, fashion magazines like InStyle and GQ have included AR codes in their print issues that allow the pages to come alive on your screen.
Regardless of your Pokeman catching ability, one thing is clear. Augmented reality is becoming a new reality, one that may not necessarily take over our current one but one that will definitely leave a lasting impact on the way we see the world today.