When Pokemon Go became a phenomenon last year, it brought a new kind of technology into mainstream conversation: augmented reality, or AR for short. A halfway house between the real and virtual world, the concept of AR is all about enhancing real-world settings through the use of computer-generated imagery.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently stated in an interview that AR offers greater potential than virtual reality and it perhaps does offer a more social experience than putting a VR headset over your face. While virtual reality is an immersive environment which users can escape into, AR is more about using technology to get the best out of the world around us – or to add more on top of it for our convenience or entertainment. But how could embracing AR change your life?

Gaming

As mentioned, Pokemon Go was probably many people’s first introduction to the idea of AR and chances are that many more games will find a similar innovative use for the technology. However, many believe that the use of AR as a ‘second screen’ to complement existing games could be an initial way forward.

A recent example of this was a Final Fantasy fan using HoloLens to both play the game and have further information displayed in AR around his playing screen. Rather than being a bold reinvention of gaming as we know it, this approach simply enhances the existing experience by making useful secondary information about the game readily available, from inventory to spells lists and the likes.

Sport

A similar use for AR is very likely to emerge in spectator sports. Think about the information you get on a television screen about the game, and consider how AR would allow for customisation and control of such information. For example, while watching poker wouldn’t it be great to have information on players displayed next to them? For instance, it could be of the kind produced by 888poker’s personality analysis tool which shows whether previous form makes them a ‘bully’ or ‘shark’ type of player? Or how about statistical data on the money in the pot, chances a player is bluffing and other aspects of the game?

AR could offer this and more – and not just for poker either. Think about potential ways it could change the way you play or watch a whole range of sports from football to cricket. It is worth noting that the technology is already making an impact on the broadcasting of sport too. Fox recently used the technology in Superbowl preview shows where NFL analysts were able to select picks and trigger graphics which then appear in augmented reality.

Shopping

Another industry where experiments with AR are already underway is retail. Gap has embraced AR with its new DressingRoom app. The program allows users to input height and weight information to create a virtual 3D model of themselves and ‘virtually’ try on clothes to see how they look on them. The idea is simply to remove the time-consuming need to physically try on garments, which could ultimately be a good idea if as all continue to move towards purchasing items online.

While it may seem like an idea which has significant potential, it should be noted that the app is currently only available for users of Google Tango phones.

Just the beginning

All of the ideas mentioned above are undoubtedly just the start when it comes to the potential of augmented reality. However, what is already clear is that the technology is likely to have an impact on our lives for many years to come.