By Juan-Carlos Duran, March 9, 2013
I’m all for augmented reality and I don’t want to be a party pooper, but an aspect of augmented reality that we may be dismissing is the medium’s potential to create “virtual noise” which can be harmful to the user. Let me explain. Studies have shown that the rate of pedestrians getting struck by automobiles, as a result of the pedestrians’ attention being diverted by mobile phone conversations, is increasing. Tablets and smartphones are expected to expand their technologies to include augmented reality experiences and thus will attempt to join smart glasses like Google Glass and its up-and-coming competitors.
Juniper Research predicts that the market for augmented reality will increase from 60 million unique users today to nearly 200 million by 2018. As augmented reality becomes more prevalent there may be more interference—or virtual noise–in our visual fields. This can divert our attention from the physical environment we find ourselves in. Using augmented reality tools such as Google Glass while walking can be lots of engaging fun, but they can also be somewhat dangerous if our attention span is challenged. And judging from the growing number of accidents that are already occurring to pedestrians who get “lost” in their mobile phones, diverting from our attention span is something we should really be thinking about.