Repeating of History and What It Means for AR/VR Designers

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I heard a lot of thought that the current state in AR is very close to times before releasing the iPhone. If somebody not aware of details, I’ll repeat: Around ten years ago, maybe you even remembered, there wasn’t an iPhone. There was a lot of regular mobile phones, a few powerful, but useless smartphones on Symbian OS, and unknown Android.

Generally, people were fine, with just phones, but some companies tried to convince us that we needed unreally powerful Symbian OS or hand computers. And as a default selling point that you will be able to do everything that you are doing on a computer, but on the go.

A message was clear, but it didn’t work this way. As much they tried, working with data sheets wasn’t easy on those bulky devices.

After releasing the first iPhone wasn’t clear why it’s different. Yeah, there wasn’t buttons at all. But how are we going to edit out data sheets? But very soon became obvious that iPhone here to stay, and more importantly, it created a new market. Apple found the right message to customers why they needed it. And it wasn’t just mirroring all functions from home computer.

And the last part. After a few years Android appeared and became first mobile operating system, leaving Nokia with it’s Symbian far behind. And we can argue a lot about if Android copied iOS or not. But the idea that Android was much closer to usability to iOS than to Symbian is unquestionable.


So, ho it’s related to now? By my observation, we are now in “before iPhone era”. We already have enough powerful hardware to create a palm-size computer, but still, there isn’t clear who will be a leader. We have a lot of rough solutions: Hololens, Meta, ARKit, ARCore, Oculus, Vive. But all of them are as Symbian OS, that is somewhat cool. But not much better than a regular phone.

And now somebody should make a leap. Release product that will collect the best solutions from everybody, and change our view of how we are using tech. It should be kind of iPhone for augmented reality. Note that I’m not saying that it’ll be Apple, Google or any other company. But it should be someone. It will be.


Why it’s so obvious? Just looks at this: 10 years ago sellers tried to convince people that they need smartphones to do the same job, as they were doing on computers. On ads were business guys that were reading documents with a stylus. But eventually, it became an absolutely different tool. With this tool, teenagers are sharing personal pictures to billion people auditory, and photographs are taking and editing photos on a flight and doing things that would sound silly ten years ago.

Last two years AR and VR didn’t grow up as it was predicted. Mostly because of the lack of use-cases. Creators and users are trying to use them in old tasks. It’s the same as trying to edit data sheet on a Symbian phone.


By my assumptions, the next leap will make not company that will combine the best technical solution. But the company that will be able to invent new use-cases for new technology.

How it relates to UX designers? Because designers are exactly those people, who should rise right question, that will lead us to find new solutions. UX designer’s work in the first place will define the future of AR and VR.

Marketers are selling to us tablets with a stylus when we need an iPhone.