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Augmented Reality Coming to Mobile Web

21/06/2017

Have you ever wanted to see what that great coffee table you found online would look like in your living room? Well, following Google’s recent announcement making a firm commitment to rolling out augmented reality on the Chrome browser, those days might be just around the corner.

Augmented Reality (AR), unlike Virtual Reality (VR), involves overlaying digital information onto the real-world environment. Although it’s not necessarily a term you hear every day, AR technology is not new and is already in use across many industries such as healthcare, energy production, tourism and marketing. If you’ve ever used Snapchat, then you’ve already used AR! Snapchat pioneered the use of AR in the world of social media with its now famous face swaps and puppie dog selfie ‘lenses’. They’re now going even further with their new set of rear-camera lenses that perfectly demonstrate AR by placing virtual objects into the real world. Pokémon Go is another great example of how AR has become possible thanks to increasingly sophisticated smartphone technology.

The roots of AR technology lie primarily in the  development of heads-up displays (HUD’s), used by the military as far back as World War II to assist fighter pilots. AR technology grew tremendously throughout the 20th century with the first commercial HUD’s being implemented in the 1970’s. Gamers and sci-fi fans will likely be able to think of hundreds of examples of AR being used in video games and movies – from ‘Call of Duty’ to ‘The Terminator’ – but we are very likely on the cusp of AR impacting our daily lives with this recent announcement from Google.

Even though AR has already been popularised through smartphone apps, it’s still not being used in any significant ways in the retail world. With the new experimental version of Chrome offering developers the promise of being able to “easily integrate AR features” into existing websites, Google will set off a chain reaction that will likely see AR used in all kinds of different ways by retailers. So, watch this space and prepare yourself for a whole new shopping experience in the coming years – direct from your mobile web browser!

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