According to ‘Foilers who attended a recent Council of PR Firms webinar on thecommunications implications of augmented reality (AR), the technology isequally thrilling and problematic.  As bona fide technophiles, there is atwinkle in our eyes as we consider the impact coupling physical reality withcomputer generated imagery could have on industry and society at large.

But, as ‘Foilers tend to do,  we used the webinar as acatalyst for critical thinking and spirited conversation both in and out of theoffice. Check out the e-dialogue that ensued and tell us whether you think ARhas teeth … or whether it simply bites:

Jennifer Wilt: The buzz online is all aboutgeo-social networking and what’s next for this booming social media segmentthat is captivating online audiences with check-ins and badge systems. It’s notnecessarily what’s next, but where it is leading that has me unsettled.Location-based information sharing is leading the way to augmented reality (AR)where the real and virtual worlds will collide, but at what cost? I love totravel to new places, and it would be amazing if all I had to do is point mysmart phone in a certain direction and get information on things to do or thetypes of businesses in the area. Or use Microsoft’s Natal Xbox to virtually tryon clothes in my BFF’s closet. But it is just plain scary to consider thepossibility of someone pointing their smart phone at me and have a stream of mypersonal information appear on the screen – where I live, the names of familymembers, tweets and Facebook posts, credit scores, and so on. These fears stemfrom huge privacy issues already at play in the social networking world that ARwill only amplify if not properly addressed.

Katie Trautmann: Another aspect in which there areconcerns is the idea of literal advertising space versus digital. Burger Kingmight own a billboard space on a freeway, but when you look at the samelocation on your mobile phone, a McDonalds ad shows up in the place of theBurger King billboard. Advertising rights in the real world vs. digital realmwill likely have some major implications in how companies buy advertisingspace. Moreover, the legality of this concept will be hotly contested and we’relikely to see many lawsuits and legal battles over digital vs. physical aseveryone tries to identify a common ground.

Steve Friedman: If people can buy/change the graphicon a virtual billboard, why can’t they change a face in a group of people in a location? “See, Mom? I really am studying at my friend’s house and not out at aparty.”  Now reality becomes scary.

Lauren Irwin: Last weekend I told three generationsof family members about thecoming age of augmented reality. Their reactions were diverse, yet had asimilar undertone—curiosity. My grandpa, who hasn’t fully grasped the idea oftechnology, would talk about it to anyone who would listen. The Gen X-ers inthe room were hesitant about the influence augmented reality may have on theirlives but seemed open to the idea on a smaller, less invasive scale. My sister,representing the millennials, was concerned for her privacy yet couldn’t waitfor the day she could own a pair of augmentedreality contact lenses.  Judging by the feedback, it will beinteresting over the next few years to watch the adaptation of augmentedreality within different generations.

How do you think augmented reality will have an impact?