As we near the end of 2018, augmented reality has been a publicly available mobile technology for over a year.
And by now you may well have heard that it has implications in design, even if it is most closely associated with gaming. The funny thing is, almost the moment Apple and Google made public their mobile AR platforms, design-related apps began to appear. Just as assuredly as early AR games were making headlines, companies like IKEA were in the news for producing apps that could help users visualize new furniture in their homes. With an app like this, or others that have emerged from the likes of Houzz, Pottery Barn, etc., you can simply choose an item to preview, aim your phone at the place in your home you’d consider setting up said item, and see – through your phone – what it would look like in realistic, 3D space.
It’s quite exciting, but it also introduces an unfamiliar question to the home design space: is this a passing fad or something that can be improved and expanded upon such that it becomes a real game-changer? It’s a common question with regard to tech, but not something we’d ordinarily have to ask in design or even artistic circles. So, let’s look at some of the evidence for AR design’s staying power.
Quality Of Existing Apps
The point here is that we can actually make the argument that AR home design is a game-changer in the space as it already exists. While it stands to reason that apps will improve and become more familiar to users, as well as that they’ll come from a larger variety of stores, they already more or less serve their clear purpose. Being able to shop online with your own home as a showcase as opposed to a massive furniture store is an entirely new idea, and one that has been made possible, completely, through the existing apps. They will get better. But the quality the exhibit at this early stage is strong evidence in and of itself that this whole concept is indeed a home design game-changer.
The Spread Of AR In Gaming
Like it or not (it can be annoying to some tech fans who don’t much care about video games), gaming is more or less the testing ground for both virtual and augmented reality. It’s where the biggest programs come out, where the most reviews are conducted, and where the technologies seem to be making or breaking themselves. The positive that we can take from this regarding design, however, is simply that mixed reality gaming has spread like wildfire already. From a few simplistic early examples, there are now whole genres sprouting out. Tabletop games and board games are expected to be resurrected to a great degree in AR. Slot and casino games, already innovating through artistic themes, multiplayer options, and appealing 3D designs, are also eyeing moves into virtual space. Shooters are being revolutionized, puzzle games are getting more immersive, and brand new experiences are being dreamed up. Granted, gaming lends itself more to
innovation than home design, but on some level this is all an indication of just how much these technologies are capable of from graphic and thematic standpoints.
The Coming Improvement In AR
If we’re going to point out what VR and AR in particular are already capable of, it’s also vital to point out how early we are in the technologies’ development, and how much improvement there is on the horizon. Right now, with regard to AR specifically, we’re in a sort of unofficial, public trial period for developers – almost like an industry-wide beta mode. But as more and more app designers get used to working with AR, and more and more companies pump money into development, the programs – whether games, home design apps, or anything else – are going to improve. Additionally, we’re going to see new devices built specifically to facilitate AR in stunning quality. Apple is already getting its customers ready for improvements of this sort, and we can rest assured Google, Samsung, and others will be hot on their heels. It is difficult right now to say specifically what all
this means, but it’s also a certainty that it means better. In the purest and most overarching sense, AR in two years is going to be a drastically better version of what it is today.
Taken all together, these points amount to fairly significant evidence that AR is going to keep improving and keep innovating, and that over the course of that process it will become a more significant technology – potentially a legitimate, bona fide game-changer – in the home design space.