Francis Rubio

Augmented Reality and the State of Mobile Apps


[TALK] Augmented Reality and the State of Mobile Apps Google Slides

Talk Outline

Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is an enhanced, interactive version of a real-world environment achieved through digital visual elements, sounds, and other sensory stimuli via holographic technology. AR incorporates three features: a combination of digital and physical worlds, interactions made in real time, and accurate 3D identification of virtual and real objects.


What’s the difference between Augmented and Virtual Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR)
adds digital elements over views that show the real world
Virtual Reality (VR)
takes users into an immersive digital world they can interact with
Mixed Reality (MR)
combining AR and VR elements
Extended Reality (XR)
all types of technologies that enhance the immersion of an experience

Short History of Augmented Reality

Ivan Sutherland, a Harvard professor and computer scientist, created the first head-mounted display called The Sword of Damocles.
Myron Kruger, a computer researcher and artist, built a laboratory at the University of Connecticut called Videoplace that was entirely dedicated to artificial reality. Within these walls, projection and camera technology was used to emit onscreen silhouettes which surrounded users for an interactive experience.
Professor Thomas Caudell coins the term “Augmented Reality”
Sportsvision broadcasts the first live NFL game with the virtual 1st & Ten graphic system – aka the yellow yard marker. The technology displays a yellow line overlayed on top of the feed to that views can quickly see where the team just advance to to get a first down. This system is still used today, although admittedly more advanced than it was in the late ‘90s. Viewers have become accustomed to the yellow line marker and other additional graphics – most don’t even know that this is a form of AR technology.
NFL Yellow Line
Hirokazu Kato developed an open-source software library called the ARToolKit. This package helps other developers build augmented reality software programs. The library uses video tracking to overlay virtual graphics on top of the real world.
Esquire Magazine used augmented reality in print media for the first time in an attempt to make the pages come alive. When readers scanned the cover, the augmented reality equipped magazine featured Robert Downey Jr. speaking to readers.
Volkswagen debuted the MARTA app (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) which primarily gave technicians step-by-step repair instructions within the service manual.
Google unveiled its Google Glass devices, a pair of augmented reality glasses that users could wear for immersive experiences.
Microsoft starts shipping its version of wearable AR technology called the HoloLens, which is more advanced than the Google Glass, but came with a hefty price tag. It’s definitely not an everyday type of accessory.

How does AR work?

Marker-based AR
Augmented reality experiences that use image recognition to identify objects to anchor with when placing digital objects into view.
Markerless AR
Augmented reality experiences that use a set of different sensors like GPS, clock, accelerometer, and compass to place digital objects into view.

Components of AR

  1. Artificial Intelligence
  2. AR Software
  3. Processing
  4. Lenses
  5. Sensors

Where to start?

  1. Programming—AR technologies and frameworks like Vuforia do most of the heavy lifting for you. Most of the time you’ll spend will go into modelling and properly placing your 3D models. This is especially true with marker-based AR. But with markerless AR, you will have to learn how to interface with your device’s sensors and GPS programmatically.
  2. Frameworks and SDKs—SDKs provide a base for you to create your AR app on. They do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Mobile Applications


Native Apps
Apps that are made specifically for a particular operating system or mobile platform
Apps made for iOS will not run on Android devices, etc.
Native apps benefit from wider access to APIs and better integration with the device
Ensures better performance for a particular mobile OS
Might double the work if you are building the same app for multiple platforms, as you have to code everything separately from the ground up for each OS
Web-based apps
Apps that are made usnig web technologies (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript)
Data storage is in the cloud instead of local
Typically needs internet access to work
runs on a browser
Hybrid apps
Mix of native and web-based apps
write once, run anywhere
single codebas for all platforms
Might have poorer performance
many times, hybrid apps do not integrate with the operating system, especially with its user interface

Evolution of Mobile Apps

Predictions and Origins
June 1983
Steve Jobs predicts a software distribution system.. At a conference, Jobs discusses a software distribution center to a record store where systems can be bought over phone lines. This prediction became true when Apple and Google released the App Store and Play Store respectively
January 1987
Psion EPOC. An early handheld computer that uses Symbian as its operating system and has basic apps
November 1993
The Information Appliance. Business Week predicts in its 1993 article that the future information appliances will instantly make the connections to a world of digitized entertainment, communications, and data on the superhighway or over the airwaves.
January 1996
The Palm OS. Palm OS is not the first personal digital assistant (PDA), but it is considered to be the first one that got it right. PDAs are small handheld devices that were the precursors to smartphones. They are computers that looked like scientific calculators and allowed you to read and send emails among other things.
December 1997
The Nokia 6110. This phone has popularized the now iconic Snake game. The game first appeared in mid-1970s as a game called Blockade. But in 1997, people could carry this games in their pockets, and it’s the first time we considered mobile phones as vehicles for games.
December 1999
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). The Wireless Application Protocol is a technical standard for accessing information over a mobile wireless network. In 1999, this protocol has been made available for mobile devices.
October 2001
iPod. The first generation iPod is released with built-in apps such as Solitaire and Brick, with the tagline “1,000 songs in your pocket.”
June 2007
The iPhone is launched. The iPhone launch is a landmark event in the history of technology. Its release influenced the current smartphone market, began the responsive web design era, and can also be considered a catalyst for the current focus on cloud synchronization between phones and desktop PCs.
June 2007
Third-party developers. Apple announce developers can create Web 2.0 applications which look and behave just like apps built into the iPhone and can seamlessly access the iPhone’s services. Previously, mobile applications were all native apps that were made by the phone manufacturers themselves, and there was no way for third-party developers to create their own mobile applications.
July 2008
The App Store is launched. At its launch, the App Store had 552 apps ready to download, 135 of which are free.
Apps as “information appliances”
September 2008
Fitbit is released.** The Fitbit is the first wearable mobile device and tracks users 24 hours a day to produce a fitness record that includes number of steps taken, calories burned, and quality of sleep.
October 2008
HTC Dream. Also known as The Googlephone, the HTC Dream becomes the first smart phone to use the Android mobile operating system.
October 2008
The Android Market is released. Google’s Android Market becomes the second major distributor of mobile apps and the App Store’s key rival. Throughout its stay, the Android Market became a store for buying music, e-books, and movies along with mobile apps. The Android Market is the precursor to the eventual Google Play Store.
The focus on home screens
June 2011
Zynga Games loses 36 million users. The FarmVille user base falls from 60 million to 26 million, a clear sign that consumers are shifting to mobile games instead of web-based ones.
March 2012
Android Market is renamed to Google Play Store as part of the latest Android 2.2 mobile update
April 2012
Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 billion, the highest ever paid for an app company.
May 2013
Flappy Bird. This game was downloaded over 50 million times only to be pulled by its creator Dong Nguyen in February 2014 due to his fears of the game’s addictive qualities. The game has spawned quite a lot of copycats since.
Apps as service layers
March 2014
Facebook releases Messenger. Half a billion people adopt the app within six months
May 2014
Gmail becomes the first standalone app to hit 1 billion downloads.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web apps that use service workers, manifests, and other web-platform features in combination with progressive enhancement to give users an experience on par with native apps.

Benefits of PWAs

Unlike regular websites, PWAs are installable independent of a web browser. Once installed they look and behave like a native application.
Progressively enhanced
The web is heavily fragmented, and just a single browser can have many users that use different versions of it. PWAs are progressively enhanced, which means that it uses the latest technology available to modern browsers, while also making sure that it can still perform its basic tasks on older browsers.
Responsively designed
Like most modern websites, PWAs are responsive. This means that it adapts its layout to your device’s size. This also means that PWAs can be used on desktops and laptops with wider screens. It also means that it responds to your preferences about color schemes, animations, contrasts, data savers, and other such settings available in your browser.
Native apps are re-engageable in that it’s very easy for users to gain access to updates and new content. PWAs make this even easier. Unlike native apps where you still need to go to your device’s software store, PWAs can update to the latest version just by refreshing them in your browser. They also have access to your device’s notifications, so you can choose to be updated through it.
Unlike native apps where you have to go through the installation process to view content, PWAs can be used even without installation since they are just websites. All links to PWAs just work.
Contents of a PWA are well-represented in search engines. Unlike native and hybrid apps that are installed on a device and are thus undiscoverable to web crawlers, PWAs are just glorified websites and can be very available to search engines
Network independent
PWAs can work offline unlike regular websites. As long as you’ve used it at least one time online, your succeeding visits can work offline. You can view everything you’ve seen previously, as well as other content that the app cached when you had an Internet connection.
Everything that makes a website secure can also be used by PWAs, particularly the HTTPS technology that prevents snooping on network requests. It’s also easier for users to make sure that they’re installing the correct app because the PWA’s URL will match your site’s domain.
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