Augmented Reality (AR) is a new mass medium and a rapidly emerging technology field. AR is a technology that allows for a digitally enhanced view of the real world. With the camera and sensors in a smartphone or tablet, AR adds layers of digital information—videos, photos, sounds—directly on top of items in the world around us.

Much like film when it was first new, AR as an industry is giving way to new opportunities to redefine the way we experience the world. It is an industry bursting with potential professions including computer programmers, interactive and user experience designers, writers, storytellers, producers, and managerial roles. AR spans across multiple markets including entertainment, communication, healthcare, education and tourism to name a few.

One tremendously exciting aspect about this field is the immense possibilities to contribute to the future of AR and how we will experience reality in this new mass medium. Do you have big dreams? Have a wild imagination? Like blazing trails? Want to change the way we interact with the world around us on a daily basis? Our industry needs you!

As Chief Innovation Officer at Infinity Augmented Reality Inc., my role is about innovation within our industry and fields related to AR. Change is continually impacting my work and it fuels my role. A major part of what I do is staying on the pulse of emergence and innovation, and AR is keeping me very busy. One of the ways we are driving innovation in AR at Infinity includes redefining AR itself.

The future of how we interact and interface with technology, and the technologies we’ve yet to imagine really belong to you.

In the past, AR has largely been a gimmick with no real use value (think 3D dancing dinosaurs), experienced in the form of a visual overlay seen atop the real world through smartphones and tablets. We’re combining things like wearable computing, big data, social media, and Artificial Intelligence to create highly personalized and relevant contextual experiences in a new AR that adapts to your unique time and place and delivers the most pertinent information you need at the right moment. 

I’ve been working in this industry for 10 years and I’ve seen the industry and technology expand exponentially in that period. In 10-plus years, it won’t be called AR anymore. It will just be reality. What will be critical in this period as the technology continues to advance rapidly over the years, is to maintain a human-centric approach that favours how technology can be used to improve the lives of end users. As Nicholas Negroponte said in 1995, “Computing is not about computers anymore. It is about living.” This remains true today, and it will still hold true in the next 10-plus years.

As a student, you can prepare for the changes ahead by thinking about technology mindfully as you use it. What do you like about it? What do you dislike? What do you think would improve your experiences? What doesn’t exist that you would like to see invented? The future of how we interact and interface with technology, and the technologies we’ve yet to imagine really belong to you. You will define how you want to live in a technological world; you will create it!

About the author

Helen Papagiannis

Helen Papagiannis, PhD, is the Chief Innovation Officer of Infinity Augmented Reality, Inc., a company providing the software that makes the digital eyewear experience in devices like Google Glass possible. She was named among the NEXT 100 Top Influencers in Digital Media in 2013, was featured as an innovator in Augmented Reality: An Emerging Technologies Guide to AR (2013), and is an international speaker on emerging technologies with two TEDx talks.