Augmented reality will become mainstream thanks to facebook and snapchat

Two major announcements this past week ushered in a turning point for augmented reality—software that superimposes computer-generated images on the physical world. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that his company is making the smartphone its main platform for AR applications. At the same time, social media rival Snapchat introduced World Lenses, a feature that places digital images, such as rainbows or clouds, in a user’s surroundings: if you walk towards the object, it gets bigger; move around it and you see it from the back.

Those were big steps in democratizing AR, until then largely the province of high-end developers. Microsoft’s expensive HoloLens headset, for example, is used by architects to walk through a large scale projection of a building to check for safety issues. Headset technology is also still too young to become widespread. HoloLens suffers from a very narrow field-of-view and is heavy to wear for long periods.