Snaps and Pokémon: are you down with AR?

August 18, 2016

The world is changing – right in front of our eyes.

Snapchat’s not my most-used app, but it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends. Lately it’s been good for some laughs, too, with its awesome facial recognition filters that can change you into a championship swimmer, an animal, or even swap your face with a friend’s.

snapchat-filters

And if you’re reading this post in 2016, there’s probably a good chance you’ve at least experimented with Pokémon GO. (No shame.) Whether you’re at a park, a museum, or in the comfort of your own home, it’s now completely normal to see imaginary creatures a few feet in front of you (…at least if you’re playing Pokémon GO).

What do Snapchat filters and Pokémon have in common? They’ve both introduced the masses to a field of tech called augmented reality. AR takes elements of the physical world and adds (augments) those objects with digital enhancements. It’s one of those technologies that’s been out in the wild for a long time, but before now it hadn’t really made it to the mainstream.

We see this cycle happen a lot in the tech world:

  1. A science fiction writer comes up with a concept (1950).
  2. Someone invents a way to make a version of it happen in real life (1968).
  3. Some movie uses the technology and everyone talks about it (2002).
  4. There’s usually a TED talk (2012).
  5. Some mainstream technology uses it (2016).
  6. It’s everywhere.

Part of the fun of technology is trying to predict what will happen next – or how a current technology can be used in new ways. I can already tell it will be really amazing to see how AR is used in the coming years and decades!

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

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