AUGMENTED OR ADMENTED REALITY? THE BOUNDARY CONTEST OVER MARKETING APPLICATIONS AND THE FUTURE OF AN EMERGING TECHNOLOGY

Tony Chung Li Liao

Abstract


Technologies that can overlay 3D, real-time data over one’s field of vision have long been a fascination in engineering. In recent years, with the introduction of augmented reality (AR) browsers and a variety of AR games on mobile smartphones and tablets, users are now able to install these applications, hold up a consumer device, and access augmented content on top of physical space. As the AR industry is making broad sweeping claims about transforming multiple industries such as medicine, education, manufacturing, law enforcement, and entertainment, the trajectory AR technology takes will likely be shaped by early advocates and developers of the technology and the particular futures they advance (Brown, Rappert, & Webster, 2000; Van Lente & Rip, 1998). From this perspective, the visions that actors hold for AR technology and the promises they choose to advance are an important unit of analysis, because they are “‘constitutive’ or ‘performative’ in attracting the interest of necessary allies (various actors in innovation networks, investors, regulatory actors, users, etc.) and in defining roles and in building mutually binding obligations and agendas.” (Borup et al., 2006; p. 289).

The corpus of data consists of fieldnotes from participant observation at 10 AR conferences spanning industry, standards, and academia. Additionally I was able to conduct 46 qualitative interviews with people working in the AR community. I qualitatively coded the data for emergent themes and characteristics of futures (Michael, 2000).



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