While you might not be able to see it with the naked eye, the CN Tower just became one of Canada’s most sought-after gyms — hundreds of Pokémon players have been gathering at the landmark since the game was officially released in Canada last month.
Augmented reality (AR) overlays a virtual world onto our environment. If you’re one of the estimated 75 million who have downloaded the game on their smart phones, you’ll know that neighbourhood landmarks have transformed into places where Pokémon hang out. The cute creatures show up on your screen as though they are standing in front of you. This concept is called augmented reality, and the game is the first mainstream app to take off with it.
Following the massive success of Pokémon Go, tech journalist Amber Mac expects development companies are working around the clock to capitalize on this breakthrough.
“This is making all of us more comfortable with the AR,” she says. “AR allows us to add a layer of information on top of the world around us. That means potentially, everywhere you go, everything you do, could be annotated with information, whether it’s educational or entertainment.” It could add context to everything around us — from home decor to dating. And if you’re not into Pikachu, there are four other areas augmented reality could change your life.
Visualize how furniture looks in your home — without buying it
Walking through a furniture store can be inspirational, but it’s hard to imagine how that mid-century sofa would look in your living room. Retailers are using AR technology to help bridge the disconnect between the showroom and your living room. Wayfair, an online furniture store, paired up with Tango, Google’s spatially-aware camera, to create an Android app that allows you to “place” any chandelier, table or stool in your home before purchasing.
An enhanced in-flight experience
If you’ve ever snagged a window seat on a flight, you’ve seen the incredible mountains and landscape views below — but there’s no telling where exactly in the world you are and what’s happening below. “Imagine with an AR experience, you could look out and see the history of the mountains or cities you’re flying over, or what type of clouds you’re looking at,” says Mac. “We have all this information on the internet but it’s static. With AR, it’s like footnotes for the world around you.”
Get a little extra help choosing the perfect restaurant
You’re walking down the street, looking for a restaurant. How do you choose one without walking up to each to check of their menus? Yelp, the crowd-sourced restaurant and business review site, recently released Monocle, an AR feature in its mobile app. Point your phone at your surroundings and you’ll see the street overlaid with nearby restaurants, coffee shops and bars along with their star-ratings.
Find out if the hottie across the street is single
AR could push location-based dating apps to the next level. “Instead of an app like Tinder that shows you available singles nearby, you could actually see pop-ups over people’s heads as they walk down the street,”says Ramona Pringle, director of Ryerson University’s Transmedia Zone. “Say someone catches your eye. If they’ve opted into the service, floating over them would be profile information like name, age, and a quippy little introduction.”