Unless you have been under a rock for the past few weeks (July 2016), you can’t have helped but notice that Pokémon GO has somewhat taken the world by storm. In doing so it has also brought the term “augmented reality” (AR) to the masses with everyone including Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg weighing in with comment and opinion.
Linknode use AR as a technology to provide real-world, real-time visualisation for planning and development, so what does the conversion of a technology into a consumer application mean?
The Google Maps Connection
Within the geospatial business, we have seen a similar transition previously. Back in the day, when digital mapping meant high end desktops and expensive software, the introduction of online mapping had a disruptive effect on the industry.
A startup called Keyhole was acquired by Google in 2004 and the founder John Hanke went on to enable Google Maps. This was the first time that most lay-people had had access to mapping beyond the street atlas in the back of the car. It was a revolution.
Within the geospatial industry, initially it caused a dilution in the “value of GIS systems” message. Why pay big bucks for something you could get for free from Google?
But long term the understanding that the consumer offering is not the same as professional solutions has created a market, provided a route to understanding and clarity over the limitations. Pokémon GO does not manage occlusion, real-time lighting, complex models, or precision coordinate system management for engineering accuracy.
And what happened to John Hanke? Well, he went onto develop a clique AR game called Ingress and then his studio Niantic developed Pokémon GO – the guy has form! You can read more detail with a search, example Forbes article here.
So the future is AR. But Linknode’s real-world AR (GIality) solutions VentusAR and UrbanPlanAR are as different to Pokémon GO as ArcGIS is to Google Maps. Still, at least people have an idea what we do now!