The Future of AR with @jonlax: TDI 27

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“I see AR having awareness of the world around us and being able to assist us in that world.”

Jon Lax (@jonlax) on Threads

Today we have @jonlax, what is one application of Augmented Reality (AR) that exists today, but you think is under utilized?

We only have phone/camera based AR at scale today. The majority of that usage has been with the front facing cameras (i.e. face filters). We haven’t seen a killer app that uses the back camera. The closest is Pokemon Go. My broad answer is world facing camera apps have been under utilized.

I would love AR apps that could help me build things but I need my hands free. Having to holding my phone is a major barrier to usable world facing AR.

What are the big problems in AR that are holding it back from broader adoption?

Hardware. We don’t have a socially acceptable, all day wearable device.

To build that you need to solve fundamental physics problems. One of the biggest is thermals. To have the sensors and displays you need to power them and then dissipate the heat. This is a hard problem because… well, the first law of thermodynamics.

The AR headsets that exist try to deal with this with external battery packs, tethered CPUs or are very large. That isn’t acceptable for the general public.

What do you see as the next big breakthrough in AR which gets us closer to widespread adoption? And what is your guess on a timeline?

I think true AR is still a ways off (5+ years) but I think MR will be a big step forward. The Quest 3 and the Apple Vision Pro have the potential to begin the AR future. I think this gen of HW is the starting line for AR. I am interested to see what devs build in the next ~2 years on these devices and what consumers find appealing.

MR is room scale vs world scale. This means many AR use cases can’t be fully explored, but I expect we will see the beginning of AR in MR devices.

Can you expand on the room scale vs world scale?

I see the fundamental difference between VR/MR/AR is VR/MR are room scale but AR is world scale. A room scale device is meant to be used indoors, often in the same room. The user is largely stationary. World scale devices are meant to go out in the world.

This is an important context difference. If you are designing for room scale you make one set of choices. If you are designing for world scale, you make other choices…

Some examples.

  • Connectivity: Room scale can work with Wifi but world scale needs 5G or LTE.
  • Social acceptability: World scale devices need to be worn in public so have a higher bar than room scale.
  • Use cases: Maps or navigation not needed for room scale, much more important to world scale.

In your opinion, what is the dream use case of AR work?

I am going to answer this broadly. I think the dream use case is to augment our abilities. For example, being out in the world and asking “what’s that?” and getting an answer. Help you hear a conversation in a crowded restaurant. Help you read small print. Translate something in real time. These are things I can largely do on a phone but it is clunky compared to if it were a wearable. I see AR having awareness of the world around us and being able to assist us in that world.

How can people find you elsewhere online?

Thank you… it was fun. If you want to read stuff I’ve written

See the complete interview on Threads: @ryan.swanstrom • Threads Dev Interview #27 I am finding developers on Threads and interviewing them, right here on… • Threads





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