Augmented Reality is Set to Make its Comeback, But Did it Really Leave?

March 7, 2024 | Share this article

“Augmented Reality is the direction that I think is far more interesting and promising — for technology and, really, for humanity. AR is designed to add, enhance the things you do as a human being: Being outside, socializing with other people, shopping, playing, having fun. AR can make all those things better.”

— John Hanke, Niantic CEO

Setting the record straight – defining AR, VR and the metaverse and how augmented reality got left behind

In September 2016, the world witnessed the launch of Pokémon Go, a mobile game that sent people outdoors in a quest to become the very best. This global phenomenon was developed by Niantic, a San Francisco-based company with deep roots in Augmented Reality (AR) dating back to 2001.

John Hanke, the company’s founder, was previously the head of Google’s Geo division, which gave birth to the iconic Google Maps. Hanke’s conviction in the potential of AR, especially in creating a Metaverse, is evident. In a recent interview, he emphasized that AR offers a magical path to build the Metaverse, distinct from the one constructed within virtual reality (VR).

What sets AR apart from VR and the emerging Metaverse? VR immerses users entirely into a digital world through headgear like the Oculus, while the Metaverse, as defined by the Advertising Research Foundation, consists of interconnected virtual worlds mainly accessed through VR. AR, however, differs by blending our physical world with digital elements instead of replacing it through your smartphone cameras or other devices such as smart glasses.

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