There are a few reasons to be bullish about augmented reality. It's just neat is the most important reason. Its practicality is another great factor. But above all, the fact that Apple is about to unleash its app developers to go crazy with AR in iOS 11 means that a ton of content should be coming. This humble measuring tape app is just the tip of the iceberg.
GIF Source: laanlabs
Apple is getting serious about augmented reality, and, at least in the carefully controlled on-stage demo, with really really good software-based AR that will, according to Apple, make its AR Kit the largest AR platform in the world.
Yes, HoloLens, the big daddy AR device, is still a long way from being in an average user's hands. But unlike VR, using a phone for AR can still produce some great experiences. Virtual Reality is betting on games as the gateway drug to ubiquity. That's a tried and true approach that might work... eventually. AR is already slowly making a splash with phone apps and games that work OK, Pokemon GO being the most notable example.
Earlier this month Apple dropped its AR kit for developers and promised that it will significantly improve AR performance on all iOS devices. At the time that it was announced, Gizmodo's Alex Cranz wrote, "With [Google's] Project Tango you can measure a window by pointing your phone at it, or know exactly how much space a couch can take up in a room. Apple seems to think it can do that with all the hardware built into last year's iPhone 7." If this video demonstration of an AR measuring tape in iOS 11 is to be believed, then yes, you can totally measure a window by pointing your phone at it.
While gaming has been a gateway drug for technology for a long time, there's another way to get users to wrap their head around new possibilities: Appealing to their prurient/lewd interests. Many people were first introduced to online payment systems because they needed a way to pay for porn. Pretty much everyone who was an early adopter of smartphones had a fart app. Snapchat, of course, turned an app for dick pics into a multi-billion dollar IPO. Take a wild guess what people are going to do with this measuring tape app.
But once people have finished screen recording measurements of their member, they will still have this handy app to measure things they actually need to measure. And there will be so many other AR applications that we haven't considered yet, all handled by a device that you already have in your pocket.
The company behind this video demo, Laan Labs, appears to have a decent amount of iOS development experience, so expect this to be legit. For now, all they are saying is that it will be released when iOS 11 comes out in spring.