AR —


Overtime, with all the social, current and cultural events that people are encountered with in their everyday lives, technologies have developed and transformed along history to match the tasks that people go through every day to make their lives more simple. Since media consumes most of these tasks, and lives are becoming more and more mobile, mobile media and technology has developed drastically overtime to make consuming media almost impossible. According to Liao and Humphreys, “mobile media technologies enable digital recreations of those physical artifacts…because of this, mobile technologies raise new opportunities for the creation of place, allowing people to reencounter everyday space and understand the structure of those settings” (Dourish, 2006) (p.3).

As mentioned above, mobile media have drastically changed over the years. Since the before the 1400s, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press – allowing the printing and distribution of written media, ancient Egyptians used stone tablets to inscribe media that would become portable (Farman, p. 11-12). Form the printing press to the first telephone, invented in 1877, to the very first text message sent in the 1990s, comes the augmented reality (AR) in the 2010s (Goggin, p. 19-36). As time, space and place progress the technologies and improvement in technologies that were being invented had to progress along with it to ‘keep up’ with the development. With the historical development in mobile technology the single use of a cell phone has transcribed into many uses as people and technology advance.

In today’s current developments in technology, a simple “search on Google” or text is not particularly advanced enough for what mankind is eager to do. When a person has stepped into a place, that place can be observed, or it can be perceived in its augmented reality (AR). As said by Liao and Humphreys (2014) AR is the “technology that mixes the real environment with the virtual [it] is registered in three-dimensions, real-time, and interactive (Azuma, 1997)” (p.1). It is a technology that has advanced with the people who are making the changes and have “focused almost exclusively on technological development efforts” (Liao & Humphreys, p. 2).

AR has given the people the chance to not only explore the world around them, but to explore the world with their mobile media/technologies, and to explore the world through others that have been in the same ‘space’ where “the relationship between place and space is complex and…place is more socially constructed” (Liao & Humphreys, p. 3). Liao and Humphreys (2014) argue that as a form of modern communication, “one common form of augmentation described was making layers that give public information or facts about a place…Many AR layers have this particular motivation – helping a number of people access useful information about their surrounding locations” (p. 9). When a person steps into a new town, instead of using the mobile application “Yelp” to discover the new and exciting places, memorials, and restaurants around them, AR helps the explorer ‘see,’ in real-time, three-dimensional figures and interact through their mobile phone or tablet by “creating augmentations that communicate through places, by creating virtual objects tied to location for the purposes of personally interacting with others” (Liao and Humphreys, p. 13). In essence it is not a form of media that is to ‘take over’ what media was yesterday or replace what the ‘space’ is physically in real life, it is an “attempt to guide people through that space” as well as, “AR…do not alter the strategic production or representation of physical space” (Liao & Humphreys, p. 13). When Liao and Humphreys (2014) argue that their findings “suggest that mobile AR instead opens up new tactical possibilities for reproduction and reinterpreting places in three important ways” – these ways are factors that are taken into consideration, when realizing how people and technology are developing everyday (p. 13).

The study that Liao and Humphreys specially researched were users of Layar, an AR application. They found that users of Layar were using AR to make their own content to explore a place that they can communicate through. Also, the users of Layar argue the political and historical construct and meaning in a ‘place’ to signify its authority. They applied “De Certeau’s (1984) theory of social practice, strategies, and tactics to reveal the complexities of these technological uses and how they (re)produce place” (Liao & Humphreys, p. 3).

When users are using AR in a new space, there are actions that the users have to use a medium, such as a cell phone or a tablet, or a device that must be worn, such as glasses or a head mounted application. Through these devices and modern media, “mobile AR has been theorized as a technology that can further complicate the relationship between space, navigation, and commercialism, because it allows for virtual content to become part of that place…[it] can improve people’s navigation and experience when deployed in urban areas (Spohrer, 1999) (Lee et al., 2012; Rehrl et al., 2012)” (Liao & Humphreys, p. 4).

  • Farman, J. (2012). Historicizing Mobile Media: Location the Transformations of Embodied Space. The Digital Formations,73.
  • Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge. Chapter 2, 19-40.
  • Hidden Creative. [hiddencreative]. (2010, Dec, 1). The Future of Augmented Reality [Video file]. Retrieved from
  • Liao, T., & Humphreys, L. (2014). Layar-ed places: Using mobile augmented reality to tactically reengage, reproduce, and reappropriate public space. New Media & Society. Retrieved January 30, 2015, from
  • Ling, Rich and Donner, Jonathan. (2009). Mobile Communication. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Chapter 2, p. 34
  • Tony Stark image by:

2 thoughts on “AR —

  1. I agree with your argument about how augmented reality is meant as a tool to guide people through a space instead of take over the space. The idea that people can put any Layar on any space they want and share with whomever they want is fantastic, but I feel the use of a medium I feel makes it less likely to catch on. It is much more work to go on a phone and hold it up to an area to explore it as opposed to read a review or skim a website and then have a full view of the area surrounding you.

  2. Well written piece here, I agree that as advanced as mobile tech has become enough to see, learn, and experience much with a simple Google, that isn’t enough for how eagerly we want to advance even further. AR gives us that “further”. It does more than inform, it immerses. Moving up from Yelp to seeing augmented 3-D representations in an actual tangible space changes much. Although I think I might disagree with Liao and Humphrey saying that space can’t be permanently affected by AR always changing place (unless I misread).

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