Augmented Reality (AR) has enormous potential to alter the user's view of their real-life environment, but has only recently become mainstream.
Both Google and Microsoft have tried to accelerate AR adoption through hardware improvements, but it was ultimately Nintendo who catapulted VR into the mainstream.
User experience is key to getting people to adopt - focus on user delightfulness, not just hardware sophistication.
What made us think
Imagine if you could enhance the world around you with a digital layer that added text, sound, images and even 3D-rendered objects. This is Augmented Reality (AR) and it has enormous potential to alter the user's view of their real-life environment. It is distinct from virtual reality, which works by completely immersing users in a virtual world, replacing their environment all together. None of this is new, but finally someone has figured out a way to get AR into the mainstream.
Our point of view
User experince is key - as many have pointed out, Nintendo's big break came when they realised they weren't a hardware company, but a "fun" company. This is a good lesson for all organisations; distill down to your core capability then leverage existing technologies such as APIs to enable innovative delivery channels. Ironically, even though the Google Glass headset failed as an AR product, it's highly likely that their Maps API is propping up Nintendo's smash hit.
Why it matters
Many have tried and many have failed to penetrate the consumer market with AR. Despite the valiant efforts of Google and Microsoft to accelerate AR adoption, their focus on hardware improvements came at the expense of a pleasing user experience. On the other hand, Nintendo leveraged existing smartphone technology and partnered with a 3rd party company that specialised in AR. The focus here was user delightfulness rather than sophistication. So came the release of Pokemon Go! - one of the most successful app launches in history adding over $9 billion to Nintendo's market capitalisation, and most importantly, catapulting AR into the mainstream and realising its infinite possibilities.
How it applies in the real world
Stick to what you're good at, and focus on making your offerings as delightful as possible - that's what really counts.
Service Design & Research
Understanding and designing for customers