The disadvantages of augmented reality include bulky and expensive headsets with a limited field of view (FoV), security concerns when AR data is manipulated to influence worker decisions, a high and expensive learning curve to use, and a lack of truly precise spatial location systems for AR objects.
Though Aircada Pro is built upon augmented and mixed reality, there’s nothing more refreshing than hearing someone in the space talk about why the world may want to reconsider that very same space.
Complete lack of business sense? Or genuine transparency…
Let’s get started!
AR Content Creation is Rarely Straightforward
2D content seems like a walk in the park after confronting the 3D world. With 3D content, that third dimension adds a whole new level of time, cost, and expertise.
If you’ve never created a photorealistic replica of a real-world object before, then you might underestimate the time it takes to create real-looking augmented reality objects. With Aircada Pro, we’ve created countless models outside of the app, and although it wasn’t an excruciatingly long process, it took time. And this was just for generic 3D models, not the exact match digital clones.
3D modeling programs like Blendr or 3ds Max will overload you with buttons and features. I remember internally panicking when I first opened it up.
Luckily, the number of tutorials out there that teach 3D modeling makes it very bearable. But as to the last point, acquiring this expertise takes time.
Can be Costly
Browse some 3D modeling sites and once you see an extremely elaborate model of a specific machine, check the price tag, and it might shock you.
Plenty of more simple models can be found for less than $50, but the more specialized you go, the more pricey it gets.
Fortunately, creating digital clones from 3d scanning using smartphones is quickly making headway. There are already some extremely promising solutions out there, and the technology is improving fast.
The Downsides of Smart Glasses
As of now, AR headsets just don’t quite hit the mark. Unless you have an extremely niche use case is likely an industrial or healthcare setting, the cons simply outweigh the pros.
Here’s what the market has to offer right now. There are several others I won’t list since I wouldn’t consider them “true” AR and rather just overlay non-3d content directly onto the glass lens (as notoriously seen with Google Glasses).
- Magic Leap 2
- Lenovo ThinkReality A3
- Apple’s Headset – To be released in late 2022 / early 2022 (or so they say)
- Mojo Lens – AR contact lenses in which there’s no way they’ll have a viable product anytime soon (prove me wrong!)
- Occulus Quest – Not quite true AR, but usesVideo Passthroughto do a pretty good job.
Bulky and Intrusive
Let’s talk about one of the most competitive solutions out there right now: Microsoft’s HoloLens2. The product garnered a lot of buzz and even won some serious military contracts for many thousands of units (that were later canceled). It’s a fun toy, and even useful in some niche scenarios.
I remember the first time I used the original HoloLens back in 2016. It was very neat, to say the least. But after 5 minutes, the weight on my head started to make my neck feel like it was getting one of those underqualified neck massages.
The HoloLens2 showed great improvement here, weighing in at 1.2lbs and with a much wider FoV, but still, it is only comfortable to use for about 30 minutes or an hour tops.
In reality, what we need are ounces, not pounds. Until then, headsets simply won’t be making any headway into mass adoption.
Field of View (FoV) is Limited
With a 45-degree FoV, the HoloLens2 allows you to see about half of your actual view. Look straight. Now, look all the way left. In between these two angles is where your FoV ends with this headset.
It’s not terrible, but it’s extremely noticeable once you put it on. Having to look straight on at everything gets tiring.
Reasonably Yet Unrealistically Expensive
The amount of skilled labor and technological achievements in both hardware and software required to create these devices is extremely impressive. There’s a reason that Magic Leap raised roughly $2.6 billion and stillfell shortwith their first prototype.
The HoloLens2 costs $3,500, whereas the Magic Leap will run you $2,250. It’s not exactly cheap, unless you have a very specific use case in mind.
Are EMFs bad for the human body? I’d like to think not, but with no serious long-term health studies, the jury is still out on this one. And in the chance that they do produce unforeseen long-term effects (which I’m just blindly assuming they do not), having an EMF factory strapped to your head for long hours at a time might be a bit questionable.
Unforeseen Retina Issues
There are two primary ways to create a holographic effect with AR headsets.
- Augmented Reality Video Passthrough – The Oculus Quest uses this method and in my opinion, it might be the long-term winner. Imagine putting on a headset and seeing all black. But now turn the front-facing camera on, and you can see everything in front of you on the headset’s internal screen. With this method, it’s relatively easy to render 3D items into the video feed, simply like what mobile AR does.
- Freaking Laser Beams – HoloLens took a different approach, and a very fascinating one at that. You look through a transparent glass lens, like normal massive glasses, and inwardly facing (pointing directly at your eyes) lasers are being produced to give an illusion of 3D objects beyond the headset’s clear lens.
In regards to the freaking laser beam approach, is shining lasers at your eyes millions of times a second a healthy long-term habit? It’s a fascinating technology but should raise at least a few concerns.
Mobile AR Has Limitations
Due to the limitations of headsets as of now, our product development has begun to focus mainly on mobile AR. We truly see it as the dominating device for AR over the next 5+ years (VR is another story).
But of course,it too has drawbacks.
Heavy Processing Eats Battery Power
I was very unpleasantly surprised when using an iPhone 7 with the Aircada Pro mobile app. Well, first of all, I was impressed at how this older model, released in 2016, could handle the 3D world. But just wow, did it take my battery from 100% to dead in about 30 minutes.
Luckily, using the app on an iPhone SE and above doesn’t drain the battery too quickly, but it’s noticeable, and the older phones will often get hot enough to cook breakfast.
Lack of Z-Depth Makes it Hard to Place Content
Simply put, without z-depth perception, it’s quite hard to know how far an object is away from you. The common question is –
Is the object far away but just really big? Or is it right in front of me and sized for ants?
The typical way to find out is to walk 45 degrees and check. It’s a bit tiresome.
Spatial Recognition Precision is Still Not Perfect
When you locate 3d objects using a smartphone, even using the newest technologies, the objects sometimes appear a few inches off. The effect is less pronounced on newer devices but still occurs on the HoloLens2.
I hate to say it, but if you need extremely precise placement,you may need to wait another year or so.
Reliance on New Technologies
Just like when we used to be able to remember our friends and family’s landline numbers by heart, the same goes with how AR will change the way we work, and the way our brain operates.
Here’s a quick scenario, and there are countless others:
- New employees at a nuclear plant are solely trained using AR.
- They rely on guided navigation to get to where they need to be, and guided procedures tell them what to do.
- The AR system stops working.
- A reactor begins smoking, signaling to the control room that urgent help is needed.
- The workers attempt to rush to the scene but get lost along the way in the huge facility.
- They arrive seconds or even minutes later and are fuzzy on the exact procedure required to cool down the reactor.
Okay, that’s a bit drastic, and potentially even far-fetched, but hopefully it paints a picture in your head about how we are soon to become very reliant on new technology, and how the absence of that technology could prove troublesome.
And last but certainly not least –
AR Safety Concerns
With new technology comes a whole new set of challenges, especially when it comes to solidifying the technology for commercial use.
Users will really have to trust AR apps that overlay real-world visual, auditory, or sensory experiences with virtual information. Malicious programs can leverage immersive feedback devices, like headsets and phones, to create the illusion that the user is in a different location or circumstance than they actually are. For instance, a future malicious program may superimpose an inaccurate data meter reading, causing a worker to go astray.
Malicious software can also employ similar approaches to overwhelm the user’s senses, rendering the device unusable as well as the user or operator. Flashing lights and sounds beaming at your face when you are trying to perform a critical fix? I hate to say it, but this is likely to happen.
As with traditional apps, augmented reality applications will very certainly confront input validation and sanitization difficulties.
For instance, if a maliciously written text on a sign is sent to a translation program that parses text in the real world, the application may be hacked. Hackers are downright evil geniuses, and this too is likely to happen.
AR applications require access to a variety of sensor data to perform properly. This includes video and audio streams, GPS data, temperature readings, and accelerometer readings, among other things. As with desktop and smartphone operating systems, which must strike a balance between allowing access to a program and the danger of that application stealing data or abusing that access, augmented reality systems will face a similar difficulty. For instance, without your approval or knowledge, an app may communicate your location or video stream to its backend servers.
The majority of desktop and smartphone apps nowadays do not require continuous sensing. Complex augmented reality applications, on the other hand, will require these capabilities. One application that would require ongoing access to video stream data finds and scans QR codes automatically. This continuous sensing data being transmitted means that the privacy hazards associated with these systems are far larger than those associated with conventional systems.
Another interesting point to consider is that the always-on cameras and other sensors will also jeopardize the privacy of bystanders who are not surveillance targets. This is because the cameras and sensors will capture images and data of individuals who are not surveillance targets, and these images and data may be used to follow these individuals’ movements and activities.
With all the drawbacks, AR is still in its infancy and likely here to stay as hardware and software continue to achieve rapid growth. But of course, we are biased. What do you think? What doother industry insidersthink?