Augmented reality may the hot new thing in tech, but count Andy Rubin as a sceptic.
While talking about the future at the Wired Business Conference in New York on Wednesday, Rubin, who is the creator of Android and is one of Silicon Valley’s most influential figures, didn’t even mention AR. And when pressed afterwards for his thoughts on the technology, he largely dismissed it.
“It’s not ready for prime time,” Rubin said in response to a question from Business Insider.
Meeting with reporters after his appearance on stage, Rubin argued that cost and lack of apps will hold AR back for now. When we do start to adopt AR, we’ll use it sparingly to play a game or use a specific app, rather than being immersed in it all day long, he predicted.
Rubin’s stance on AR is a little strange given how much the technology has been in the spotlight of late. Earlier this week, for example, Apple’s announced that the technology was coming to iPhones and iPads with a new software update this fall. And many see AR, which overlays digital images on top of views of the real world, as the next leap forward in computing.
Rather than focusing on AR, Rubin in his talk discussed the things his startup, Essential, is building, including connected home appliances and new technologies for cars.
Here are Rubin’s comments on AR. We’ve edited them slightly for length and clarity:
“There’s baby steps into AR and then there’s all in. Scoble’s all in is the shower picture… so the glasses might come later. Mobile phones have had augmented reality for a long time…
“What the real question is: ‘What is the end product?’ What is the developer going to build with augmented reality? And so far I’ve seen interactive media… movies and game-like movies, where you’re both a participant and a viewer, which I think is a little too mixed reality for me. There’s a lean back where you’re a consumer of this stuff and it happens, or you’re a participant like a game. The mixed part of it hasn’t been proven yet.
“I think when consumers are ready to wear things, whether it’s a motorcycle helmet that overlays a map… or if it’s some goggles that they will use for a board game… in the end for these big things I think…
“One of the problems is the price. It’s just crazy. It’s not ready for prime time. There will be a day where you might have a head mounted display and it costs $US199, and you just plug it into your mobile phone. And it won’t be ‘I’m wearing this 24 hours a day.’ It will be, ‘It’s time to sit down and play Monopoly with the family or something.’ It actually might be more social than what you would do with VR.”