The future of wearable technology from Apple is almost certain to include augmented reality glasses, or “smart glasses” as they’re often called. What these will look like and what all they’ll be capable of remains anybody’s guess at this point. Designs have been rumored but not confirmed, and at this stage we don’t even know when to expect this kind of product. Some version of Apple AR glasses does seem inevitable at this point however.
This product will be a big deal for a lot of practical, everyday reasons. It will streamline messaging and web searches. It will make it safer to follow navigation while driving. It may even serve as a tool for live translation in real time. On a more fun level though, AR glasses from Apple will also have major implications in gaming. They will basically represent a new chapter in augmented reality mobile gaming, and a handful of categories are likely to benefit in major ways:
Pokémon GO & Its Imitators
The introduction of Pokémon GO to iOS stores a few years ago was one of the biggest developments in the short but active history of smartphone gaming. And while it may now seem to casual observers as though the game is past its heyday, that’s not necessarily the case. Pokémon GO is still holding events that bring tons of players together on a regular basis, and it has also inspired imitators — most notably in the form of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
Where these games are still limited however is in the fact that they force players to explore the world with their phones held in front of them. AR glasses would solve this problem in a simple, fundamental way by turning the games into hands-free experiences, making it even easier for people to explore, form social groups around game activities, and so on.
Fitness AR games, like AR Runner, initially looked as if they might be quite trendy. They basically gamified exercise through augmented reality by producing virtual obstacles and courses in the real world. Naturally though, going through these programs while looking through a phone is inconvenient at best, and dangerous at worst. AR glasses will immediately solve this problem, and likely bring fitness games back to the iOS store in a more serious and lasting manner. As an added bonus, AR glasses are also likely to provide users with information relating to workouts. For instance, users might see notes about their speed, heart rate, or even calories burned flashing before their eyes even as they complete game-like workouts.
Poker has already made a successful transition into virtual reality. Poker games for devices like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have demonstrated the appeal of playing the game in virtual space — typically at mock card tables alongside avatars of live opponents, all while interacting with virtual cards and poker chips. It’s an immersive experience that works quite well, but it’s also one that could work quite similarly in AR. In most cases it’s the sense of live competition and handling of cards and chips that makes virtual poker work, and these elements can be imitated in AR even without the same sense of environment or atmosphere.
Where the real advantage of playing poker through Apple AR glasses could be is in the availability of tips and records. For players just starting out, an AR poker game could be made to define poker terms as they come up in games, or to flash reminders of which cards and hands are worth more. For more advanced players, the glasses could be programmed to keep records of games — perhaps reminding players how previous hands worked, or even keeping notes players have vocalized (such as that a given opponent is showing a tendency to bluff). Basically, AR Could make the game of poker both more interactive and more intuitive.
Minecraft Earth & Its Imitators
Minecraft Earth and other building games it inspired were among the most exciting game concepts we saw in the early days of mobile AR gaming following the release of Pokémon GO. Even on a screen, Minecraft offers players the option of exploring limitless architectural creativity; in person, in the real world, the same game seemed like a wonder. Unfortunately however, Minecraft Earth was shut down earlier this year — evidently due to Microsoft’s need to reallocate resources in light of the pandemic.
This wasn’t particularly encouraging for Minecraft Earth’s future specifically, but the fact still stands that if a developer gets a game of this nature just right, it’s going to be spectacular. And if such a game is playable through AR glasses, it will be all the more flexible. Players will be wholly immersed in worlds augmented by virtual creations, and will be able to use both hands to continue to build and tweak designs.
The Bottom Line
We don’t know when Apple will produce AR glasses, or what exactly they will be like. It is a safe assumption that they’ll be able to host and/or run apps, however, and those apps will inevitably involve games. The existing mobile games and concepts above are by far among the ones leading the way.
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Richard J. Don
Richard J. Don is a tech blogger with a passion for gadgets. Always looking forward, he wants to keep his readers up to date with the latest trends and devices. In his free time he can be found at the latest tech convention.