August 16, 2017
Immersive experience—the 4th wave in tech: An AR history lesson
By: Kamen Kamenov

Immersive experience—the 4th wave in tech: An AR history lesson

(in 4th wave relative terms) Long time no speak!

Welcome to the second post from a series on all things Augmented & Virtual Reality. In this post, as we move along the Virtuality Continuum (VC) into Augmented Reality (AR), I’m going to take a quick look back at the history of AR and talk about what makes for memorable AR experiences. Let’s start with a quick memory refresh on what the VC is:

Mixed Reality

The shortest AR history lesson in history.

AR is a very hot topic nowadays and, thanks to record breaking popularity of apps like Pokémon Go, the world is now excited about it. It has also moved along Gartner’s Hype Cycle curve quite significantly since 2012 (don’t let the “trough of disillusionment” fool you—things are on the up for AR).

Nonetheless, despite the recent hype, AR is not exactly a new kid on the block. Its history goes as far back as 1968, when Ivan Sutherland developed the first head-mounted display showing CGI graphics. Back then, it wasn’t even known as Augmented Reality—this term was first coined by Tom Caudell in 1990. However, it wasn’t until the late 2000’s (when both hardware and software started getting sophisticated enough) that AR really came to the forefront as one of the main elements driving The 4th Wave of tech. Advancements over the last few years have been huge, and have thus led to brands taking such strong interest in having AR experiences of their own that the technology is now becoming more than just a nice-to-have. If we take retail as an example, AR-enabled commerce is expected to take up as much as 25 percent of online retail by 2035.

Memorable AR

As a consumer—and I imagine many of you would agree with me on this—what keeps me happy and gets me going back to an AR (or any digital) experience is all about the app being:

  • Simple yet not limited;

  • Intuitive yet highly functional;

  • Meaningful (a big one!); and

  • Engaging through content of the highest quality.

  • It sounds simple, but is very hard to get exactly right.

What do the brands rushing to create those experiences need to think about?

  • Platform - there are many options out there, and making the right choice is crucial in avoiding having to “cut a cake with a chainsaw”—a term my first line manager used to say.

  • Skills - producing AR solutions in advanced digital formats requires a unique skillset, and having a team with the right skills is key.

  • 3D Assets - the quality of assets is crucial to ensure the experience is more than a gimmick that customers only use once.

  • Usability - the user must be at the heart of design to ensure the solution is built in a way that allows them to turn into an app they use regularly.

  • Relevance – investing in solution maintenance and continuous content updates are a must to keep the experience relevant and exciting, as the brand itself evolves over time.

Chances are the next great AR experience you come across ticks those boxes in the background, and is pushing the technology closer to a true state of mainstream.
Happy to hear your thoughts—get in touch!

Here are my sources for this post, in case you’d like to do some further reading:

  1. Pokemon Go catches five new world records -
  2. The Pokemon Go game -
  3. The Gartner 2016 Hype Cycle -
  4. The Hype Cycle curve -
  5. History of AR infographic -
  6. Virtual, augmented and mixed reality are the 4th wave -
  7. Virtual and Augmented reality -

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