Filtering Augmented Reality’s Fantasies

Snapchat’s lenses and Pokemon Go have demonstrated how augmented reality can be a popular toy-like feature on smartphones. Now the question is, when will AR drive applications that can be used for more than a moment of fun?

The answer is, not for a few years. While various tech companies like Facebook and Apple have unveiled sophisticated plans for AR in the past 12 months, the hardware in smartphones—the primary device for using AR—isn’t likely to be advanced enough for those plans for a long while. Instead, AR will continue to be limited to the indoors and to features like face filters found on Snapchat or 3D animations.

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Weaknesses: The Hololens is far too big and expensive for the mass market. It could take a long time—perhaps more than a decade—before the features of the Hololens can be packed into an affordable device with the form factor of something you would buy at Lenscrafters. There might be an expiration date on Microsoft’s willingness to pour money and resources into an effort with such a murky future.

Big Question: Will wearable AR devices catch on?

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