One question that should have got you thinking is how can a decentralized online ledger that works based on algorithms can converge with an immersive technology such as augmented reality. Though both the technologies are still at its nascent stage with scope for more development, their convergence could give rise to some revolutionary breakthroughs.
What is Blockchain?
Generally, blockchain is mostly associated with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. But it has more to it than just being the facilitator for cryptocurrencies. It is more of a distributed database controlled by a crowd rather than a single agency like a bank, a government or any other third party, thus giving a whole new meaning to decentralization.
Here’s How Blockchain Works?
Whenever there is a request for a transaction, the requested transaction is sent to a Peer-to-Peer network of computers which are generally referred to as nodes for validation. Algorithms are used to validate the transaction as well as the user’s status. After the transaction is verified, it is combined with other transactions in order to create a block of data for the digital ledger. The newly created block is added to the existing blockchain to complete the transaction. A validated transaction can involve cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, records, contracts or other information.
As the blockchain works on a large network of computers, no single person can have control over its history making it tamper proof which isn’t possible with a centralized system. Instead of having a central authority or a third party to trust one another in a transaction and fulfill the needs of a contract, peer review in the blockchain system guarantees that for us in a secure and automated fashion.
How do Cryptocurrencies Use the Blockchain?
Different cryptocurrencies use blockchain in slightly different ways. In case of Bitcoin, the most popular one of all the cryptocurrencies, a new block is created every ten minutes. The newly created block then certifies new transactions that may have taken place. For the validation of new transactions, “Proof-of-Work” have to be submitted by the miners that require high computing hardware. Proof-of-work is an algorithm that requires its users to perform some kind of work to participate in the verification of the block and the transactions it contain. Once the confirmation on the transactions in a block is received, the Bitcoin transaction is considered to be complete.
However, the catch is, the ten-minute long block creation time can result in backlogs as the Bitcoin transactions increase. This has been someway resolved with other cryptocurrencies where the block creation time is reduced, for instance, two and a half minutes for Litecoin and just about 10-20 seconds for Ether (The currency of Ethereum). But the faster rate at which blocks are created can increase the chances of errors in the transactions.
Augmented reality is an immersive technology which blends the aspects of the digital world with the real world. Simply put, it overlays computer-generated sensory input such as image, video, audio or graphics on to the real world. Unlike virtual reality where the user is completely immersed in the stimulating environment and totally isolated from the real world, augmented reality allows the users to be in touch with the tangible world while interacting with the virtual objects.
How Augmented Reality Works?
Below are the three major approaches through which augmented reality works:
SLAM short form for simultaneous localization and mapping is the technology used by many augmented reality development kits such as Apple’s ARKit and others. SLAM is a set of algorithms that aims to localize the sensors w.r.t their surroundings and at the same time maps the structure of the environment. It is an advanced technology basically used in computer vision technologies that extract the visual data of the physical world in the form of points to help the machine understand its surroundings better.
Location-based also known as markerless augmented reality relies heavily on #GPS, velocity meter, accelerometer or digital compass for data on the location and augmented reality visualizations are based on their inputs. Location-based apps combine augmented reality with the location awareness capabilities of the mobile devices to provide the users with personalized interactive experiences.
Recognition based augmented reality depends on the object/image recognition technology where info about an object or a visual marker is overlaid on to the physical world after the device’s camera recognizes or detects the object/visual marker.
Blockchain Powered Augmented Reality
Let’s check out some of the scenarios where the coming together of the technology that’s central for decentralization – blockchain and the great visualization tool – augmented reality, can have a meaningful impact.
Blockchain & Augmented Reality Powered Influencer marketing
Social media influencers are the people with immense popularity on the social media and established credibility in a specific industry which allows them to influence and shape the audience opinion on a variety of matters through their posts, blogs, videos etc. They have the power to grow a brand’s popularity and increase the sales beyond expectations. Many companies are planning to use influencers as part of their future marketing campaigns.
However, there are certain challenges both businesses and influencers have to overcome before influencer marketing can reach unprecedented levels as predicted. The convergence of augmented reality and blockchain can help to override many of these challenges.
Blockchain eliminates the need for intermediaries and creates transparency which ensures all the parties involved are benefited in equal measure and improves trust between them. This means companies can directly forge deals with the influencers. The influencers will gain by making more money & in a secured fashion. Brands will spend less on promoting their products or services through influencers and also can measure their marketing efforts & analyze return on investment.
The influencers are also under the threat from closed platforms such as Facebook, Instagram etc., w.r.t the control over their data. Blockchain helps the influencers to gain control and ownership of their own data thereby shifting the power from the platforms back to the influencers.
These are some of the use-cases, where blockchain can aid in influencer marketing. Now let’s check out some cases where augmented reality can have an impact on influencer marketing.
Companies have to send samples of their products to influencers so that they can try the product and share their experience with their followers. The problem arises when it comes to expensive products or if there are any difficulties in providing products to the influencers.
Here’s where augmented reality can pitch in by reducing the cost associated with traditional product sampling. It allows the brands to distribute virtual representations of their products to the influencers. The influencers can use these virtual representations to experience the products and share their opinion on them. For instance, influencers can place 3D models of furniture at their homes with the help of augmented reality and share that experience with their followers.
Through augmented reality, influencers can hold meet-ups, contests and Q&A sessions with their followers without the need for them to be physically present thereby maximizing their outreach.
Retail with Blockchain and Augmented Reality
With augmented reality, shopping has become hassle-free for both retailers and customers. The retailers can create virtual carts for the customers using augmented reality making it easy for them to track their products and provide 3D visualization for their products resulting in enhanced sales. Along with visualizing the products in 3D imagery, augmented reality also allows the customers to check whether that particular product looks good on them or in their house for instance, in case of furniture, thus making the decision-making process easier and quicker.
If you add blockchain into the mix, the technology that is behind Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, it can provide security for online transactions and safeguards the financial data through decentralization i.e. through the elimination of third-parties such as banks and credit card companies. Blockchain also removes the possibilities of counterfeiting assuring the buyers of receiving the same product that they viewed and ordered.
Safe platform for Content Creators
Augmented reality is on the threshold of going mainstream. One major factor that can contribute to its takeoff is the ability to create, manage and deploy augmented reality content. Augmented reality content creation requires specialized software and hardware. The cost of producing augmented reality content is much higher than that for producing the regular content. In addition to the costs of producing content, content creators also face issues such as copyright infringement and less payment. Blockchain technology gives the content creator control over their intellectual property and the power to have a say in how they are compensated & how their work is distributed.
Online Gaming with Augmented Reality and Blockchain
The combination of augmented reality and blockchain is going to dramatically reshape the gaming sector. On the one hand, augmented reality provides the users with improved and interactive gaming experiences and on the other hand, blockchain ensures a decentralized gaming model, eliminating the need for middlemen. Blockchain also enables the gamers to extract value from gaming marketplace through cryptocurrency-based in-game purchases.
Blockchain + IPFS as an Augmented Reality Assets Distribution Technology
Augmented reality requires digital assets but managing them in a centralized system can give rise to copyright infringement and the ownership of the assets can be easily taken over by third-party intermediaries. Blockchain ensures a decentralized system by eliminating the need for intermediaries and safeguards the transfer of ownership of digital assets and prevents their misuse by verifying the identity and integrity of people before allowing them access to the digital assets. Despite the various benefits blockchain offers when it comes to handling digital assets, scalability is one area where it lags behind. Even though blockchain is composed of blocks no longer than a single MB, users may not be able to accommodate the space required to store the entire blockchain. Hence storing digital assets on blockchain can be enormously inefficient.
#IPFS, the short form of Interplanetary File System, which is the next generation peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol and considered as the distributed web can make up for the scalability issue. The combination of blockchain and IPFS can ease the process of distributing the digital assets in a secured manner and also facilitates a faster download when someone wants to use them.
This is just the beginning of what the convergence of blockchain and augmented reality has to offer. While augmented reality has the potential to change the way we perceive the digital world, on the other hand, the secure nature of blockchain provides the user with greater autonomy and independence. The coming together of these breakthrough technologies has tremendous potential for restructuring our economic as well as our social lives.
We at SMACAR Solutions specialize in developing cutting-edge technology solutions which help businesses keep up with the ever-fluctuating market. Our skills in augmented reality, virtual reality, IoT, mobile and web technologies can be handy in giving shape to your ideas. Drop a message with your ideas and requirements for a FREE consultation.