The Reality of Apps
Augmented Reality applications are digital apps that engage with the physical world.
For example, McDonald’s latest ‘GOL!’ app allows you to simply view your purchased McDonalds fries through your smartphone camera, and watch as a unique game unfolds. Your fries turn into goals, with digital soccer players appearing and interacting with the real life image. The future is now, people.
AR apps are continuously gaining momentum amongst businesses. They are the next big thing. For example, UK-based retailer Banana Flame uses an AR app that allows customers to try on clothes from the comfort of their own home. Simply stand four metres away from your webcam so that your entire body is visible, and voila! No more changing room queues or awkward pitiful looks when you walk out in a compromising peach-hued-dress-that-you-thought-you-could-get-away-with. There are no limits to the potential of AR apps.
Although, while the app industry is booming, I wonder to what extent can we continue to substitute real life experiences with these virtual constructs? While I don’t love changing rooms, I do love well-fitted jeans, and unfortunately no app is able to imitate the struggle I have forcing my poor legs and derrière into a pair of the latest skinny jeans.
Much to the surprise of my elders, as a digital native, I am finding it hard to keep up with technology. I know that is a bit of a contradiction, and that my mind should be malleable and innately tech-savvy, but I prefer books to e-books, writing to typing, and physically playing sport rather than having my digitally simulated self do it for me (just kidding- I’m terrible at sport).
But seriously. I have found that the premise of the media field is to ‘adapt or die,’ and I am finding my manual, hand-written, 90s-reminiscent nostalgia is stifling such adaptation. Apparently there is little space for sentimentality in the digital age.
Admittedly, I do love the premise behind certain AR apps. For example ‘iOnRoad’ monitors your speed limit, the positioning of your car, and notes the number plate of any reckless drivers around you. It also remembers where you’ve parked your car, which is pretty nifty. Such an app is an incredibly clever use of technology.
But for the most part, I realise that I’m becoming resentful of the contemporary blurred line between the tangible and intangible realities that we are presented with. When does an app stop being a tool and start being an experience? And at what point do we decide that a virtual experience is more valuable than a physical one?
Or perhaps AR apps are the solution to bringing us smartphone-addicts back to the real world? Fundamentally, these applications are not encouraging us to look at our phones, but through them, and as such- we are utilising a greater wealth of knowledge than our own. Forget ‘adapt or die,’ these days we need to ‘app or die.’