We’re becoming more cognizant of the time we spend on screens — breaking down time spent by app and being mindful of where our attention is going. But have we really thought about the time we waste simply searching for the right pieces of information? The time we spend jumping from a shopping list to Amazon for price comparisons to Wirecutter for reviews to YouTube for instructions. This is our digital commute, a tax we pay for the luxury of having information at our fingertips.
This is our digital commute, a tax we pay for the luxury of having information at our fingertips.
Today, applications for AR are predominantly in spaces like games, face filters, and digital twins. These use cases all have merit (trust me, I like face filters as much as the next person; how else would I know what an 80-year-old version of me might look like?) but there’s something they all have in common: they are all solely focused on improving the way we consume information. Improving the way we consume information is, perhaps, the most noticeable impact AR can have on our lives — but we can unlock even more powerful experiences if we apply AR to the entire information lifecycle.
...we can unlock even more powerful experiences if we apply AR to the entire information lifecycle.
The information lifecycle breaks down into 4 distinct components: capture, catalog, retrieve, and consume. Let’s take a tangible example. I am renting out my home for a weekend while I am out of town and I need to leave some instructions for my guests on how to use specific things around the house properly. My burr coffee grinder is bound to get used and I want to make sure my guests know how to use it so as to not damage it.
1. Capture: I make a document on my laptop and write a step-by-step guide to using the grinder with a key disclaimer to not change settings while there are still beans inside.
2. Catalog: I email the document to my guests ahead of their trip.
3. Retrieve: When my guests are settled into the house and looking for a coffee, they realize I emailed them a guide on operating the grinder properly. They search through their emails and find the correct one.
4. Consume: They read my description of how to use the grinder and do their best to apply it correctly.
Wasn’t that fun? [end sarcasm] AR can make this process much easier by minimizing the time you spend shepherding information from one step of the information lifecycle to the next.
Let’s take a look at how an AR app can impact each step:
1. Capture: Using the camera input and microphone input, the app can provide a mechanism to ingest any new information in real-time.
Ex: Take a picture of the coffee grinder and make a step-by-step instructional guide on how to use it. Since we’re in AR, I pin each step to the part of the machine that it pertains to, just so I can make it as clear as possible.
2. Catalog: AR helps you catalog digital information in new, more intuitive ways vs. the traditional hierarchical, file-structure model used with most digital information today. The app can associate captured information (i.e. from the camera, GPS, accelerometer, etc) with a number of things: where you are, what you’re looking at, what you’re doing when you capture information.
Ex: The app automatically associates each step of the guide with physical landmarks on the coffee grinder and knows to associate this content I just created with the coffee grinder in my home.
3. Retrieve: Since information captured through an AR app is enriched with so many additional data inputs (from raw data and from post-processed insights from that data), it can be retrieved in a manner similar to how we, as humans, remember things. When you’re in a place, or looking at an object, or doing a thing, the app can “remember” all pieces of information you might need at that specific moment.
Ex: When my guests are looking for a coffee, they can simply point their app at the coffee grinder and my instructional guide appears in AR and walks them through step-by-step how to grind coffee the correct way.
4. Consume: With the ability to have total recall of any associated information, AR can change the way we go about our lives by delivering the correct information at the correct time without distracting the user, right in their view of the world - where that information is most useful.
Ex: Not only does each step appear on top of a specific location on the coffee grinder, but they may also be able to watch a quick 5-second gif of me changing the settings the right way while they’re doing it themselves.
We’re only just scratching the surface with ways that AR can empower us to be more efficient.
We’re only just scratching the surface with ways that AR can empower us to be more efficient. There’s a digital commute that we have simply accepted as the way that technology works — the tax we pay to have information at our fingertips is the time we must spend organizing and searching for that information when we need it. What if I told you AR could remove that hurdle by removing the friction at every step? How much more efficient would you be? What would you do with this superpower?
We’re building an Augmented Reality platform at Squint that will revolutionize the way that we capture, catalog, retrieve, and consume information. Take a look at what Squint can do for the factory floor.
If you are someone who enjoys working in new paradigms and solving incredibly challenging UX problems, join the team!