Arthur Chapin, Expedia Group
"Part of the story for both AR and VR, especially in travel, is that they require such a huge scale of content there’s a pretty high barrier to entry."
Quote from Arthur Chapin, senior vice president of global product and design at Expedia Group, in an article on PhocusWire this week on emerging technologies.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered on our site that week.
Just under a decade ago, TripAdvisor added an augmented reality layer to its mobile and iPad apps.
It was a handy feature that gave users a way to navigate around a destination and find directions in real-time, on the device, to restaurants, things to do, etc, with links to their respective reviews (this is back in the day when TripAdvisor was overwhelmingly just about reviews).
The technology was exciting and the user experience pretty good. TripAdvisor was applauded for dabbling with interesting new consumer interfaces to see what works
The company was, like many other brands in the digital world, riding the crest of a wave created by the sudden proliferation of smart devices with excellent cameras and, of course, constant connections to networks to bring in the content.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
The tool was eventually switched off.
The reason why TripAdvisor's experiment didn't gain traction is not because it was poorly designed or implemented (it was actually very good) but the use cases were few and far between.
Sure, travelers will always be grateful for getting directions around a destination, or finding the location of a cool bar or excellent museum and learning what others have to say about it.
But to do so by using devices in the manner required to stream in the content and use the camera at the same time just hasn't taken off at any significant scale.
Tourists take selfies and looking at their phones a lot, yet have not found a need (or level of comfort) to use those devices to replace their eyes and ability to search for information in the usual way.
It's worth noting that Google Glass (RIP) couldn't find a way, amongst many things, to inspire users to shift to a more digital world, at least visually.
AR/VR, as cited by Expedia Group's Arthur Chapin, is perhaps the best example in recent years of a cool bit of technology that is desperate so far to find itself a solid user base in the travel industry.
Wayfinding is perhaps where it almost strikes a chord with users - but it's still a long way from being mainstream.
Technologists are prone to overthinking everything - quite rightly so, more often than not.
But consumers, especially travelers, are perhaps at the opposite end of the scale.
They prefer simplicity, things that work easily, tools that do not require much thought, and where the results improve their experience without having to resort to new interfaces.
It's a broad statement to make - but the evidence so far is illustrating that it might be correct.
PhocusWire's regular editorials