Why have augmented reality on a smarphone?

Mark Sullivan at FastCompany reports that Apple is planning its entry into the augmented reality market.  In rough terms, augmented reality (AR) involves layering computer-generated graphics over live views of a given scene.

As Wilson reports, rumor has it that Apple's AR entry will reside on its iPhone products rather than on a pair of special glasses.  In effect, the system would be more like Pokémon Go than Google Glass.

This move may seem timid or underwhelming.  After all, AR provided through a head-mounted device like Google Glass or Oculus Rift would be much more immersive and perhaps sexier.  What gives?

The reason may be that Apple believes that people are not ready to accept a system that is so unfamiliar in appearance or requirements:

While the phone-based AR may not be as captivating as the head-mounted AR, there is good reason to start there and release some kind of headset later on. “Apple’s strategy may be to release a technology that gets people used to the idea, and then release a headset in a couple of years,” says Technalysis Research chief analyst Bob O’Donnell.

This approach seems consistent with the MAYA principle advocated by mid-20th-Century industrial designer Raymond Loewy.  "MAYA" stands for "Most Advanced Yet Acceptable" and urges designers to ensure that their innovations are presented in a way that is not too novel or futuristic for consumers.

Absolutely, people expect and appreciate advancement in their technology.  At the same time, they prefer things that fit well with their established lifestyles.  So, Loewy came to the realization that new things must be presented to people initially in a form that they can still relate to.

Not respecting this principle can result in products that are "ahead of their time" and that fail to gain market traction.  Google Glass may be a good example of such a problem.

Thus, it may be that, in order to respect this principle, it would be wise for Apple to introduce AR through its iPhones, gear that people are generally happy and comfortable with.

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