How AR on your smartphone can boost your career


Does your smartphone support augmented reality (AR)? There’s a decent chance you don’t know! I had to check to see if mine did, which it didn’t until I downloaded Google’s ARCore AR platform. (Apple’s equivalent is ARKit.)

While some older smartphones may not support these AR platforms, those that do offer users the opportunity to play or experiment with all kinds of AR apps. Most are games, but others can enhance productivity, educate, and help solve problems.

Exploring AR apps on your smartphone is a great way to get your head around how AR can assist you in your job and personal life, and also might inspire you to redirect your career toward AR technology. Demand for AR skills is high and should continue to be over the next few years, so even people who never played a single game of Pokemon GO can get caught up and, at the very least, develop insights into the AR user experience.

There’s value in that. That’s why putting in the time to become fluent in (or at least familiar with) AR can really pay off; after all, when it comes to emerging technologies, it doesn’t take a lot of knowledge or facility to stand out from the crowd. For example, I recently downloaded a few functional Android AR apps to evaluate and see what I could learn from them about AR, even just from a user’s perspective. I’ve since received several offers for six-figure AR UX design jobs, and can no longer walk into my local Starbucks without being accosted by a venture capitalist.

Just kidding. There are no six-figure AR UX jobs awaiting me, and the last time I was accosted by a VC was after I trashed an IPO offering in a blog post in 2008. But playing around with AR apps such as Google Lens, Augment, ARuler, and ARPlan 3D helped me understand the limitations and possibilities of AR a lot more than if I simply read an article or watched a video.

One thing you find out immediately when you start using AR apps is that it’s hard! After all, you’re not used to mixed or blended reality and how physical reality interacts with the AR tools at your disposal. For example, I struggled with the measurement apps; it was hard not only to get accurate measurements, but to even define what I was measuring. But that may have more to do with operator error than anything. On the other hand, I was totally successful in placing an elephant next to a candle on a counter in my house. Let the bidding wars begin.

Seriously, I’m not suggesting a few minutes or even hours messing around with an AR app will make you an AR expert. But it will at least allow you to become familiar with one of the technologies expected to be a key part of digital transformation. And that’s going to put you ahead of a lot of other people.

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