Transparency in AR advertising

It can be difficult to sift through the hype around Augmented Reality technology, and that’s not made any easier by misleading promotional videos that don’t fairly represent the final user experience. Granted, trying to represent what an AR experience will be to someone who has never had one can be difficult, but the over promising of marketing can actually hurt an industry still trying to establish its legitimacy.

So I was happy to see that Microsoft, in it’s latest promotional material for Hololens showing medical uses of the glasses, actually had images that depicted the transparency of the final effect. In the Windows Central article “New HoloLens video demos usage in medicine, is more honest about field of view” ( ), we see that, in addition to a more honest field of view, that the image overlays are shown as being transparent. I’m glad, because up until now a lot of AR marketing material has the overlay images composited over the backgrounds as though they had opacity. Users expecting to see solid objects hovering in space would be justified in feeling bait-and-switched when all of the objects look ghostlike and ephemeral.

I hope that as AR hardware gets closer to consumer release that the accuracy of the marketing materials improves. The additive light technology is amazing and will be used for incredible things, but it won’t make the objects opaque – they won’t have that level of visceral tangibility. If users expectations are too high, their disappointment might match, and aside from high ROI research, technical, and industrial uses, the technology risks being seen as another fad.

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Over 20 years of experience in creative/technical supervision and design in Visual Effects, Feature Animation and Scientific Visualization.

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