Assessment 3 · Social Media Communication

Augmented Reality (AR) in the 21st Century

Denisse Jarcia | 470198405

Thursday 9am-12pm, Fiona Andreallo

Mobile smartphone and tablet device usage is rapidly increasing. Thus, more programs are designed specifically for these devices for further development. Additionally, the emergence of social media platforms and new applications has urged consumers to want more. Most users become easily familiar with the features and applications on their device. Therefore, they always tend to look for something new, perhaps an upgrade of the current application or a new feature. Today, through the development of technology, many Augmented Reality (AR) browsers are publicly available and on the market through the mobile handheld devices (Butchart, 2011).

mobile-augmented-reality-growth-opportunities-infographic-1-638

(Image 1: Infographic on Augmented Reality)

Augmented Reality is defined as a technology that mixes the real environment with the virtual, is registered in three dimensions, real-time and interactive, Azuma (1997) explains. The use of AR is growing which opens new opportunities for developers and excitement for consumers. The common usage of augmented reality is tracking, user interaction, calibration and registration, and display techniques (Zhou et al, 2008). The development of mobile AR helps people annotate, experience and enact a certain place.

The main article used as a reference for this blog is Layar-ed places: Using mobile augmented reality to tactically reengage, reproduce, and reappropriate public space. Laio & Humphreys’ (2015) article discusses location-based services (LBS) and practices of mobile geotagging, content creation that inform understanding of current practices. Furthermore, the relationship between code and space is explained. Laio & Humphreys use Layar as an example, the latter is a mobile AR application that displays points of interest (POIs), user-created annotations, or graphics based on the Global Positioning System (GPS) location of the device and orientation of the built-in camera, compass, and accelerometer. The concept of place and space also plays a huge role in understanding Augmented Reality because of the use of locations through mobile or tablet devices. As Harrison and Dourish (1996) define, “space is the opportunity; place is the understood reality” (p.96). Layar users create content to think about and communicate about place. However, there are issues raised regarding the deployment of AR: who has authority over space and who is in charge of reconstructing political and historical meaning in a certain place. In relation to this, De Certeau’s analysis and framework is used to understand mobile AR uses as tactical spatial practices.

Social media and AR are integrated together most of the time. Social media is the tool used to share features of AR through the user’s account and shared with family, friends or community. Snapchat is one social media platform that uses AR. Since the beginning, AR is the core feature of this app. Users are encouraged to become creative by simply adding text or designs in their image before sending them. “None of these photos would have the same meaning without the additional annotations and illustrations. The humor, references, and expression in these messages are directly tied to the ability of augmented reality”, Racette (2015) explains. Additionally, there are filters that can be used to create a more entertaining snap or story. There are standard color filters, temperature, date and time, speed and themes.

snapchat

(Image 2: Snapchat filters)

The distinct geofilters used in Snapchat is the current obsession of millennials. Geofilters are images which lay atop of the image you’ve just taken, often designating where you are, events in your area, or general advertisements (Specht, 2015). A user will be able to use this feature in certain places as long as the device location service is turned on. Some locations usually have several geofilter designs that users could choose from that appeal to the majority of Snapchatters. Additionally, users can contribute their own geofilter designs. Just last year, Snapchat has introduced two kinds of geofilters: community geofilters and sponsored geofilters. Community geofilters usually state the place where the snap took place; it can not include logos or marketing and can be submitted for free. On the other hand, sponsored geofilters are used by brands to cover a certain area with their logo or marketing-based filters which are paid for. Therefore, companies and events have used this feature to promote their products and keep their customers updated. My current internship with an events company has led me to discover the sponsored geofilter on Snapchat. The team is working on an upcoming event involving the launch of a product designed for students on-the-go. Currently, we are working on the designs for the sponsored geofilter and we are also conducting further research to maximize its use on the day of the event.

geofilter

(Image 3: Snapchat geofilters)

Aside from entertainment and marketing, Augmented Reality has become useful for tourism. Tourism is an industry that makes use of AR to guide travelers in choosing their destinations and planning their itinerary before or during their trip. It creates an interactive way to entice and excite tourists (users) for the upcoming or current journeys. AR plays an important role to build an incredible visitor experienceAn example would be Discover Moscow Photo app that creates an experience for users to discover the history of the capital and visually experience the iconic persons and famous people in Moscow. It was launched by the Department of  Information and Technology of Moscow and  through the app, users can catch virtual doubles of iconic and historical figures and take a photo with them. Through the app, users can find the person 3D-models, discover the places, take selfies, and share with friends or other users. Discover Moscow App has a similar concept of Pokémon Go, within a radius of 50 meters from the character, the smartphone will be transmitted the exact coordinates for the detection of the characters. This app falls under the concept of historicizing/memorializing public place because of its feature involving historic and iconic individuals in the country/place. This concept shows the conclusive relationship between code and place (Liao & Humphreys, 2015). If for example, these virtual people were not used in the app, then the augmentations would have a different meaning and the place would have a different meaning (Liao & Humphreys, 2015). Therefore, the non-users of the app may have a different interpretation and experience of the place because they are not seeing the AR involved in Discover Moscow app.

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(Image 4: AR in tourism)

Another example of an app that integrates the concepts of Location Based Services (LBS), mobile geotagging, code/space, and spatial practices would be WallaMe. The latter lets the user leave a hidden message through the use of in-app drawing and painting tools to create a special message. This message could be left on the nearby wall, street or sign which can only be accessed and read by other users through the app. Those who have been using the app want to create a place and space that is exclusive to its users. Spatial practices: strategies and tactics is an applicable concept for this application. Spatial practice is how people consciously and unconsciously alter, adapt, and appropriate objects and space for their own needs, as defined by De Certeau (1984). AR technologies have the potential to render people identifiable in space and regulate those spaces, Crang and Graham (2007) explains. Therefore, WallaMe could be used as an example to show capabilities in creating different uses for AR.

wallame-leave-secret-messages-on-walls-app-snapmunk

(Image 5: WallaMe application)

Laio & Humpreys’ (2015) conclude that mobile technologies increasingly force us to confront issues of location as an influential factor for communication. Augmented Reality is a growing industry involving powerful and strategic actors.  There are certainly positive and negative aspects relating to this. There could be faster and innovative development for AR but at the same time, there could be some individuals who could reclaim, limit, and possibly censor some of the tactical production. Additionally, the production of augmented space seems easy because there is less cost, tools are available to create content and design, and there are no strict rules that involve AR yet. Therefore, researchers should continue to monitor the relationships, institutions, and organizations that host AR space. Additionally, there should be a potential pushback from dominant power structures to reassert control over AR space.

The concerns raised could be applied in current social media and AR mobile applications. Through technology and programs, the contribution and development of applications involving AR become fast and easy. It should be noted that there are individuals that tend to create a negative impact on AR instead of creating positive and useful content. Therefore, laws and other policies should be considered and implemented in spaces that involve AR to protect the users as well. On the other hand, research should not only focus on early adopters, instead, age and gender differences should also be considered to further improve AR’s reach and potential.

References: 

Actualapple. (2016, August 15). Moscow authorities have launched a Russian equivalent of Pokemon Go with Choi, Gagarin and Psuhkin [Image]. Retrieved from: http://actualapple.com/moscow-authorities-have-launched-a-russian-equivalent-of-pokemon-go-with-choi-gagarin-and-pushkin/

Azuma, R. (1997). A survey of augmented reality. Presence 6(4): 385-385

Butchart, B. (2011). Augmented reality for smartphones: a Guide for developers and content publishers. Techwatch Report, JISC Observatory. Retrieved from: http://observatory.jisc.ac.uk/docs/AR_Smartphones.pdf

Christina (2016, January 6). Augmented Reality Applications in the Tourism Industry. Retrieved from http://www.augment.com/blog/augmented-reality-in-tourism/

Crang, M., & Graham, S. (2007). Sentient cities: ambient intelligence and the politics of the urban space. Information, Communication & Society 10(6): 789-817.

De Certeau, M. (1984). The Practice of Everyday Life (trans. S Rendall). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Harrison, S., & Dourish, P. (1996). Re-place-ing space: the roles of place and space in collaborative systems. In: Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on computer supported cooperative work, 1996 (CSCW ’96), Boston, MA, 16-20 November, pp.67-76. New York: ACM Press.

Jose, P. (2016, February 16). THIS AUGMENTED REALITY APP LETS YOU LEAVE SECRET MESSAGES ANYWHERE [Image]. Retrieved from: https://www.snapmunk.com/augmented-reality-app-lets-leave-secret-messages-anywhere/

Liao, T., & Humphreys, L. (2015). Layar-ed places: Using mobile augmented reality to tactically reengage, reproduce, and reappropriate public space. New Media & Society, 17(9), 1418–1435.

Mobile & Augmented Reality Growth & Opportunities [Inforgraphic]. Reel Code Media. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/ReelCodeMedia/rcm-infographic-v-2

Racette, M. (2015, December 3). Snapchat’s  Future Lies in Augmented Reality. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/@markracette/snapchat-s-future-lies-in-augmented-reality-afbfe1834e7a

Specht, M. (2015, December 31). WHY ARE SNAPCHAT GEOFILTERS SO ADDICTIVE?. Retrieved from http://www.brandandmortar.com/social-media/why-are-snapchat-geofilters-so-addictive/

Zhou, F., Duh, H. B., & Billinghurst M. (2008). Trends in augmented reality tracking, interaction and display: a review of ten years of ISMAR. In: Proceedings of the 7th IEEE/ACM international symposium on mixed and augmented reality, 2008 (ISMART ’08), Cambridge, 15-18 September, pp. 193-202. NewYork: IEEE. 

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4 thoughts on “Augmented Reality (AR) in the 21st Century

  1. Thanks for this; I found it a really interesting read, particularly as I recently explored the use of augmented reality by digital magazines for another class.

    Your point about negative impacts is one that is has been perplexing some AR device creators and will undoubtedly do so for some time to come. Google Glass was a good example. Users, who came to be known as “Glassholes”, were not only regarded as anti-social, but also as potential invaders of the privacy of others, due to the inbuilt camera on the device. There is also a widespread misconception that augmented reality devices are just for gaming.

    Your research has unearthed many applications I’d never previously heard about and which will surely be used as models for many international businesses and services in the next few years. Discover Moscow, for example, is a fantastic resource for tourists and locals interested in exploring local history.

    I noticed that, among other things, the app uses QR codes and also read recently that QR codes are popular in many Asian countries. They didn’t really take off in Australia; perhaps that will change when tourism services and other businesses here realise the potential of the Discover Moscow app.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you lant5174 for your comment. I agree that when AR is mentioned, people usually think that it is limited to gaming. I believe there are other industries that could make use of AR perhaps to promote their products/services, improve educational materials and programs, or simply make their app more entertaining. On the other hand, I believe that AR has a great potential, especially in the tourism industry anywhere in the world since most of the tourists or even locals are into smartphone/tablet apps and programs. As mentioned Discover Moscow App is similar with Pokémon Go where most of the iconic and popular places are used. Therefore, it would also be a great opportunity for tourist sites and other places that need more recognition/popularity to include and integrate AR with their tourism programs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the well-researched article. Mobile AR has become popular since the Pokémon Go took the world by storm, and it is going commercial and tends to alter the way people engage with a company. I found it interesting about the geofilters in Snapchat. Community geofilters enable people to contextualise the image. Allowing users to design their own geofilter makes it possible for reproduction of place. Users are creating content about place which shapes their relationship and interpretations of places. On the other hand, sponsored geofilters are making Snapchat a local and mobile advertising portal by helping people experience and enact around a certain place.

    The example of Discover Moscow App demonstrates the interaction with media anytime anywhere through the integration of LBS and AR. I think there is great potential for mobile AR in commercialism as well as cultural production. And this development will further complicate the relationship between people, space and commercialism. I noticed that you also pointed out the negative impacts of mobile AR. I agree that issues such as surveillance and privacy would emerge with the quick evolution of technology and the change in intimacy. As the development of AR is still at very early stage, I believe there are many possibilities for it.

    Fangqi Yan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks yvonneyan13 for your comment. Snapchat is an entertaining way to communicate not just personally but also commercially. The reproduction of place is a very important aspect of AR and other than this, Snapchat gives its users an opportunity to contribute and enhance their creativity through the geofilter they can personally design. On the other hand, I think that the Discover Moscow App is a great way to enhance tourism in Russia. I believe that other countries/places should also integrate AR with their tourism programs to give information and create a unique experience for tourists as well as locals who usually rely on smartphone/tablet apps. Indeed, there are a lot of possibilities for AR and I am looking forward to its development.

      Like

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