Augmented Reality (AR) has seen a sudden buzz in the last few weeks. The announcements just keep coming; Layar announced a 3D API and Wikitude announced AR API. VentureBeat recently ranked the emerging start-ups in augmented reality. AR is still a nascent domain with many quirks and twists but it is for real and it is going to cause disruptions in many dimensions. This is how I see it would affect the enterprise software:
No interface will be the interface
The augmented reality uses the most natural interface, the reality, and layers information on top of it essentially eliminating the need to have an artificial interface. Users will prefer in-context user experience at the locations where they perform their primary task compared to unnatural static experience on their current devices. I also see the impact and potential for innovation in the MVC frameworks. The AR opens up a lot more opportunities for the developers and designers, who were constrained by the traditional technological barriers, to innovate new UI frameworks that have higher affordance and closer mapping to users’ mental model against an unproductive artificial user interface. Getting closer to user’s mental model is going to make the user experience a pleasure and the users more productive. Check out this Layar video:
Data will be the new design
With the growing popularity of AR once considered a nice to have feature, the alternate data consumption, will become the core requirement of the enterprise software. The users are likely to access data with a variety of new clients in unanticipated ways. The widespread adoption of RSS feeds made the interaction and visual design of a blog less relevant against burning the feeds to deliver the content in realtime. Similarly accessibility to a range of rich enterprise data in real-time is going to outweigh everything else. The users will create new environments and experiences. This emergent behavior is a golden opportunity for the companies that have captured rich enterprise data but have faced challenges to make it accessible and useful to the end users.
The SaaS, the cloud, and mobility will be base expectations
The AR applications require the data to be accessed from a range of physical locations on mobile devices without any latency. This distributed data need combined with the nature of the AR deployments where one company does not own an end-to-end solution will necessitate the data and the apps to be delivered from the cloud to optimize the solution. The users will not only demand that the application be accessible from the mobile devices but the mobile devices might be the primary and in some cases the only interface to the business information. Emerging technology trend such as cloud-based rendering, when combined with such AR deployments, has potential for some killer innovative applications.
These are exciting times and I hope that the entrepreneurs tap into the world of augmented reality and make it real by creating innovative experiences that demonstrate technology excellence, create new business models, and make it a real pleasure to interact with the enterprise software.