The economics of augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) is a real-time, interactive user experience that inserts virtual computer-generated elements into a user’s environment. AR technology utilizes the Internet of Things (IoT) to enable smart devices to capture and identify “scenes” as a user moves through her world, generate contextually relevant holograms, sound, and other sensory inputs, then project those virtual elements through the user’s display. AR technology is coordinative in that it assists in economic calculation, aids in tracking usage, and helps agents overcome some kinds of information asymmetries. We provide examples from existing AR applications and conceptualize how AR strengthens self-organization and enables polycentric loci of private governance to emerge, what we call agile self-organization. Examples include information-enhancing overlays, automatic language translation, individualizing and privatizing the provision of personal and worker safety, reducing emergency response times, and enriching education with overlays and holograms. We conclude that AR technologies could erode traditional policy rationales for intervention and allow private governance to take hold and flourish in situations where it has traditionally had difficulty doing so.

That is a paper from the still-underrated Abigail Devereaux (a former student of mine), via Kevin Lewis.


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