You’re thinking about Augmented Reality all wrong

aug.ment
verb |ôgˈment| [ with obj. ]
make (something) greater by adding to it; increase: he augmented his reality by finding a special on foursquare. 

Search for augmented reality in the App store or any Android store and you’ll find that the devices will typically focus on the visual sensory perception of reality, some apps add in Wikipedia links via loc., some will show you where the closest ATM is, but all this can be done on a Google Map layer, and not be as painstakingly annoying to consume.

We’re thinking about augmented reality incorrectly, we’re thinking it needs to be a sensory extension. Sure, a pair of 3D glasses that could potentially layer textures on NYCs streets, add in Zombies and put a digital gun in your hands would be awesome, but the truth is that we’re at least 20 years away from Left 4 Dead Augmented 2.

Instead we should focus on utilizing easily deployable tools to augment day to day life by bridging the real with the digital as easily and simply as we can, and this is definitely starting to take shape with QR codes.

Perhaps I’m a bit more in tune to them, but just on my train ride to the office today, I saw 3 distinct QR codes in an area that had 4 distinct ads. While this percentage isn’t by any means indicative of the average, QR codes are undeniably showing up in more and more places.

So bears the next question. Is it easier to

a) whip out a mobile phone, launch a specific augmented reality app, that 1. connects to a finite database, 2. probably requires you to filter what you’re interested in and 3. see the information first via “info blurb” on a touchscreen (see above image), and then click through to what you want to find, or

b) whip out a mobile, launch any QR scanner, scan, and retrieve the information whatever it may be.

In terms of process, and access to information plan b) wins hands down, and it will for some time now, or a least until your iPhone 6 can communicate a digital signature of your blog, twitter account, etc… or we get a bunch of people those nifty glasses mentioned before, Augmented reality will extend the digital into our lives through other means, but I’d say it’s a safe bet that QR codes will be the path to augmenting and reshaping reality.

 

The USSR was good for entrepreneurship.

When you think of the Soviet Union, and in fact communism – the last thing that comes to your mind are the favorable conditions it set for private enterprise. And while undeniable that the “concept” of privatization was “frowned upon” under the hammer and sickle, it’s not to say that it inadvertently didn’t do more good than bad for entreprenerus – at least in today’s world, and looking ten fifteen years down the line.

Have we lost our marbles. Hardly.

The East – West Divide

Let’s look at the nature of things as they were prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and Perestroika. Not only was food scarce in the Warsaw Pact but so were normal commodity items such as pillows, skirts, toilet paper, or for that matter next to everything that wasn’t either vodka, potato, or beer, or combined product there of, and you can forget about the availability of Levi’s Jeans all together.

So what would happen if say a few individuals gained access to a box of Levi’s, another few, to a couple of crates of Bananas, another to extra couches at the factory, and perhaps someone else to some toddler shirts, etc… etc… effectively an underground economy, which initially arose as a barter system. 3 pairs of 501 regular fit jeans for 1 couch. Done. One pair of regular fit for 10 shirts. Done. 5 shirts for three bushels of bananas. Done.

An entrepreneurial mindset was forming out of necessity to have basic human goods. What’s interesting as well is that – this new basic form of entrepreneurship – spanned the Eastern Block, the Polish would have a surplus of something the Hungarians did not, who in turn had a surplus of something or other that the Romanians lacked, and so the circle went ’round and ’round, and under the table micro international trade was blossoming.

Aside from the trading and the bartering, this did however carry risks, visas were next to impossible to acquire, individuals were putting themselves and their families at stake for just participating in this activity, but history aside, all this came to and end with the fall of the USSR and the introduction of free market reforms, or did it?

The West – West Divide

Let’s fast forward to now, and look at the Western block, aside from a few pockets, entrepreneurship and failure is generally looked down upon. If you fail, it’s as if though you are negatively branded, and instead of being looked a as a brave individual whose attempted something new, and in terms of the general mentality – this is probably the most differentiating factor between the U.S. and Western Europeans.

What do we mean? Well in Spain one of the most sought after positions is a “funcionario” or a civil servant, in Danish there exists a word for being too ambitious, but the buck doesn’t stop there.

There is a popular drive not to succeed and just be comfortable in the majority of the populace, and the socially backed government initiatives, the sometimes month+ it takes to get a company up and running, the don’t get us started on various labour laws that make firing people more expensive than keeping them on, it’s no wonder that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship has been hit with the stick for decades and just now individuals are trying to turn things around led by best practices and initiatives coming from the states and those Europeans who had to leave in order to fully develop their companies and ideas in places such as Silicon Valley, NY, Boston, etc.

The East – West Junction

We’re 20 years on from the fall off the Berlin Wall, the entrepreneurship mentality is still there, the post Warsaw pact citizens are innovating, creating, going around obstacles and taking risks in order to move their enterprises forward, not only on a local but an international front. Furthermore, due to the oppressive nature of the Soviet regime, the region has typically embraced US American ideals and concepts, further positioning themselves to grab the reigns for European Entrepreneurs.

Notwithstanding, many of the C&E Europeans feel that they have something to prove, to show that they too can become magnates of industry, and with the total alienation to socialism caused by the USSR it wouldn’t be surprising if within the next 20 years the focus of entrepreneurship on the European front will shift much further East.