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A Manager’s Guide to Augmented Reality
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November–December 2017 Issue

Augmented reality technologies promise to transform how we learn, make decisions, and interact with the physical world. In this package we explain what AR is, how its applications are evolving, and why it’s so important.

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Executive Summary

To date, the lack of affordable, lightweight, high-performance smart glasses has been a barrier to augmented reality’s widespread adoption. The head-mounted displays (HMDs) most businesses use for AR tend to be expensive and cumbersome, and none of the options available to consumers have achieved broad acceptance.

But the race to develop a popular version of this new digital interface is on—and is attracting both tech titans and upstart inventors. Investors are pouring money into wearables development, betting that HMDs running AR will ultimately disrupt the market for phones and tablets. The screens in consumers’ pockets will be replaced by AR interfaces that people put on—and keep on—without a second thought, just as they do sunglasses.

In this Spotlight package we have described how businesses are using AR to improve visualization, instruction, and interaction. These same capabilities will allow HMDs to become the consumer interface for many products and forms of data. Consumers will use hand gestures and voice commands to access information about and interact with the machines and devices around them, including appliances; audio systems; and home heating, cooling, lighting, and alarm systems. Smart glasses will guide people through the world, allowing them to summon instructions (How do I change a tire?), directions (Where’s the subway entrance?), and even tourist information (What does that sign say in my language?) on a virtual screen that hovers before them whenever and wherever needed.

What will the next generation of wearables look like? Google was first to market with Google Glass, a visionary effort that stalled for a variety of reasons, including high cost and privacy concerns. Microsoft subsequently launched the HoloLens, which many view as promising, but it is expensive ($3,000), has a narrow field of view, and is somewhat bulky. (It’s more of a headset than a pair of glasses.) The HoloLens may prove adequate for some business applications but is not yet ready for consumer use. Famously secretive Apple is rumored to be developing user-friendly smart glasses; the mid-2017 launch of its ARKit developer software for AR apps and the fall 2017 introduction of the AR-capable iPhone X hint at that possibility. Google recently released an improved Glass and launched ARCore, a direct response to ARKit. Numerous other companies are jumping into the market. Among them are Magic Leap, a start-up that has already raised $1.4 billion to develop a head-mounted virtual retinal display, and three companies converging on a sunglasses-like concept: Osterhout Design Group (ODG), Vuzix, and Meta.

The stakes are high. Whoever wins the glasses wars will control a technology that transforms how people interface with the digital and physical worlds—far more than the iPhone did a decade ago. In this next round of the mobile-device arms race, the title of world’s most valuable company could be up for grabs.

There is a fundamental disconnect between the wealth of digital data available to us and the physical world in which we apply it. While reality is three-dimensional, the rich data we now have to inform our decisions and actions remains trapped on two-dimensional pages and screens. This gulf between the real and digital worlds limits our ability to take advantage of the torrent of information and insights produced by billions of smart, connected products (SCPs) worldwide.

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Type: Magazine Source: Make Magazine

A response to a 2012 White House initiative, Maker Ed is a campaign to expand math and science education to American children to make them globally competitive. Chaired by the leader of the Maker Movement, Dale Dougherty, Maker Ed plays a national leadership role in bringing the movement to a developing network of institutions.

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Type: Website Source: Maker Education Initiative

A community platform that allows users to post information and resources about their own making. The community allows for people to share their ideas.

Title: Maker Ed Google+ Community Type: Online Community Source: Maker Education Google+ Community

San Francisco-based Brightworks School is a learning community that strives to create a meaningful learning experience for students based on depth of inquiry, collaboration through trust and creativity, and development into capable, adaptable citizens of the world. We use real tools, real materials, and real problems to encourage students’ love of learning, curiosity about the world, ability to engage, tenacity to think big, and persistence to do amazing things.

Title: Brightworks School Blog Type: Blog Source: Brightworks School

Actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture, the MIT Media Lab goes beyond known boundaries and disciplines, encouraging the most unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. The Lab is committed to looking beyond the obvious to ask the questions not yet asked–questions whose answers could radically improve the way people live, learn, express themselves, work, and play.

Title: MIT Media Lab Type: Website Source: MIT Media Lab

A product of MIT Media Lab. Instructables is a place that lets you explore, document, and share your DIY creations.

Title: Instructables Type: Website Source: Instructables

A way for kids to get skills and meet others that share their ideas and create portfolios of their work. Every member has their own portfolio where they share what they make and do, and earn embroidered skill patches for completing sets of challenges. ( DIY is also on Project MASH .)

Title: Type: Website / Community Source: DIY

Adafruit is an online resource for learning and making electronics and offers tools and equipment to assist in the process.

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Based in Oakland, California, Lighthouse Charter has specific classes devoted to making. It was designated a MakerCorps site in 2014.

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MakerBot’s Thingiverse is a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things. As the world’s largest 3D printing community, they believe that everyone should be encouraged to create and remix 3D things, no matter their technical expertise or previous experience. In the spirit of maintaining an open platform, all designs are encouraged to be licensed under a Creative Commons license , meaning that anyone can use or alter any design.

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