Does augmented actuality belong in out of doors recreation? eight predictions about what to anticipate


While digital technology is viewed by many in the outdoor recreation space as an intrusion rather than an improvement, augmented reality has the potential to improve time spent outdoors in some big ways.

As more talk comes this week about Apple’s upcoming AR glasses, the world is in a frenzy about augmented reality technology. In a nutshell, this technology enables a type of visual overlay that can be used to enhance life without completely disrupting the real-world experience. Think of augmented reality technology like a vehicle’s heads-up display on the windshield, but instead on the lens and with much greater capabilities. For example, this type of technology could be used to display directions while walking through a city or to display text messages without anyone having to access their phone.

While ubiquitous ads and peripheral view content will likely be a horror to eventually emerge from this technology, there will also be a slew of useful uses.

Before we delve into how this technology may manifest itself in the outdoor recreation space, it’s important to get one thing straight. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little uncomfortable when discussing the future and the technology around it. As you look to the future, it’s important to remember that most new technologies don’t necessarily have to change life—in most cases, you just don’t have to adopt the technology, and life stays the same. Just because augmented reality (AR) exists, and is likely to be increasingly applied to the outdoor recreation space, doesn’t mean the experience that existed before augmented reality can’t remain an option as well. No one will force you to wear augmented reality goggles when hiking up the mountain.

That being said, here are some places where augmented reality could show up in the outdoor recreation space:

1. Better monitoring of training metrics. Details like running pace, total distance, and heart rate are instantly available, allowing athletes to better monitor these performance indicators.

2. Landscape descriptions. Wonder what that peak in the distance is called? Soon you may be able to find out just by watching. Apps like this already exist on smartphones (check out PeakVisor) that use the device’s screen and camera, but an AR upgrade would make accessing this information even more convenient. This could also help prevent people from getting lost as they could have a more detailed and present representation of the landscape around them.

3. Directions. Imagine coming to a crossroads and knowing which way to go thanks to an indicator flashing across your field of vision. While this is obviously something that many would consider somewhat invasive to the natural hiking experience, others will certainly find this helpful and an improvement in safety. Think of it like Google Maps but presented for directions and from the first person perspective. Similar technology could also be used to help rock climbers plan their routes from the base of a rock, or sketch out countless routes on a “MoonBoard”-style exercise board at the gym.

4. Technical Training Improvements. Learning how to tie a new knot while rock climbing? Browsing through images or watching videos can be a bit frustrating at times. Instead, future training may include first-person visual cues appearing right before one’s eyes during the knot-tying process via an AR experience. This training could also be interactive and correct the user if a mistake is made.

5. Gamification of outdoor recreation. I know you’re probably groaning after reading this, but listen to me. Remember Pokemon Go! and how this augmented reality smartphone game made people around the world go looking for digital creatures? Expect the same in the outdoor recreation space – games that intertwine with outdoor recreation and help keep people engaged and active. Again, no, you don’t have to participate—your outdoor recreation experience can remain the same. However, many people would benefit from the added motivation of getting outside.

6. Hazard Detection. Does this angle of inclination mean avalanche danger? Is the water current too strong for a river crossing? Using augmented reality technology, an application could run in the background to analyze the risks around a person, perhaps only interrupting their experience when danger is imminent.

7. Identification of plants and fungi. Would you like to learn more about the nature around you? It’s likely that an augmented reality application will be created that will provide additional information about nature while actively observing it, including things like which plants are poisonous and which mushrooms are safe to eat.

8. Purchasing Improvements. Want to take a look at the gear you’re about to buy online in a more immersive way? Augmented Reality can be used to digitally bring products into the living room and give the consumer a better idea of ​​what they are buying.

There you have it – these are eight of my predictions when it comes to augmented reality and the outdoor recreation space. Check back in 10 years to see if I was right.

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