Impact of AR on the Home

Published on
March 6, 2024
February 22, 2024

Introduction

Recently there has been an uptake in the amount of available augmented reality solutions, as companies are shifting their focus from pure VR. Other companies like apple, Meta and Sony Augmented Reality (AR) integrate digital imaging and graphics into the user's real environment, rather than being completely computer generated. The rapid development of these technologies has the potential to revolutionize how we live, work, and communicate. As AR technologies will eventually drive the evolution of human behavior, the question we pose is:

How will AR impact the spaces we live in and our home experience?

Throughout history, different cultures and periods have brought to fruition various home floor plans. The spaces we call home are and have been dictated by usage, we create rooms and assign roles and functions to these rooms, and as new consumer technologies are commercialized the space, we utilize them in often evolves its primary usage.

For example, new builds often design living rooms with consideration for where the television set is most optimal considering seating, natural light, and viewing distance. Taking it even further some luxury homes feature home theatres, epitomizing the transformative impact of technology on space use.

The recently announced Apple Vision Pro integrates well with people's existing homes requiring dedicated free floor space to overcome consumer adoption hurdles.

AR in the home: outlining the use cases

As the technology improves more and more use cases become viable for consumers to own and utilize AR in their own homes. Here are some of the possible applications that AR can facilitate:

Home theatre, film (Traditional 2d format content)– A dominant use case in the home sphere, predominately facilitated by televisions. AR has the opportunity to provide the same benefits of screen size and comfort traditional lounge room and television setups provide but in any room of the house.

Gaming – One of the founding applications of AR, gaming is now a common activity in households globally. AR gaming allowed for more immersive gameplay and added realism, stimulating a more visceral reaction from users compared to traditional methods.

Remote work – Supporting work from home, the primary benefit AR presents is increased immersion with colleagues benefiting employee well-being while working remotely, giving users the feeling of being amongst their peers during meetings and digital gatherings.

Communication – AR, alongside other auxiliary products like haptics, improves online communication through better-capturing methods of communication that other devices fail to, such as body language, touch, and proximity.

Virtual experiences – Making the distinction from traditional entertainment, virtual experiences encapsulate more than just entertainment. Some examples include digital tourism, therapy, education, well-being, training, and novelty experiences.

What would a dedicated AR room look like?

The digital projection of augmented reality impacts human behavior and how they interact with the space around them. A 2019 study by Stanford researchers revealed that people still abide by social cues and norms in an experiment where users had to choose a seat to sit in, where one seat was occupied by a digital avatar. Not only did all the participants choose not to sit in the seat without the avatar, but 72% chose not to even after standing up and taking the headset off.

“These results highlight how AR content integrates with your physical space, affecting the way you interact with it. The presence of AR content also appears to linger after the goggles are taken off.”

- Jeremy Bailenson, Founding Director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab

Considering this, how will physical space accommodate digital realities?

Size considerations – A minimum 2x2 meter space size is recommended for non-seated room-scale AR. Space size dictates the possible applications and the freedom of movement for users. In the future, we will see fewer coffee tables and furniture in lounge rooms or new variations of space arrangements, opening more room for AR play and potentially even completely dedicated AR rooms.

Connectivity – Internet and power connectivity considerations are important, to ensure usage capacity by maintaining different hardware power and Internet access for online search, communication, and streaming.

Safety and comfort – Although less of a consideration for AR compared to VR as it still allows for visibility of users' surroundings, safety and comfort are a significant consideration, especially in periods of long usage. Floor comfort and mitigating the risk of falls means carpeted, cushioned, or wood floors are a better option than tiles or concrete.

Lighting – Natural lighting can cause washed-out visuals or glare, negatively impacting the display and experience of AR, so ideal spaces should be darker rooms or can block out natural light through curtains or blinds.

Sensors – While many AR products and being developed as standalone devices that don’t require external sensors, many enthusiast solutions utilize external sensors to accommodate applications that require a larger range of movements such as room-scale VR gaming. These sensors need to be strategically positioned around the room to properly track and capture the user and space.

Haptics and Audio – Haptics and audio devices are auxiliary products supporting the AR use case by further immersing users into a digital reality through touch and sound senses. The next generation of tech-enabled homes and spaces may begin to integrate surround sound systems and haptic audio and devices to deliver outputs to occupants so that they can be greater immersed in digital experiences in their own homes.

In conclusion, Augmented reality presents a multitude of opportunities for consumers to implement new applications and activities that would previously require travel, within the comfort of their own homes.

As new use cases to the home, the physical space that accommodates these activities will also begin to evolve to facilitate AR technology and the human behavior it perpetuates.

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