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Augmented reality could be the next big thing (like the smartphone), says Tim Cook

Why it matters to you

Augmented reality has been around on the sidelines for awhile, but it could take a nudge from an industry heavyweight like Tim Cook to bring augmented reality to the main stage.

Apple knows a thing or two about not only setting, but also spotting trends. So when CEO Tim Cook sings augmented reality’s praises, it may mean it’s time for us to perk up and listen. In an interview with The Independent during his visit to the U.K. this week, the Apple executive likened the emerging technology to the very established and ubiquitous technology of the smartphone.

This certainly isn’t the first time Cook has highlighted the importance of AR in the future of the digital realm. In an interview with Good Morning America last September, Cook noted that he preferred augmented reality to virtual reality as it kept people grounded in the real world, instead of submersing them entirely in an alternate reality.

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He expanded upon that viewpoint in his interview, noting, “I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently. Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it.”

Augmented reality, Cook argues, allows users to integrate technology into an existing world, which has more resonance.

Calling the technology “a big idea like the smartphone,” Cook also spoke of the universal appeal of augmented reality. In the same way that the smartphone can be used by anyone and everyone, Cook believes that AR “could improve a lot of lives and be entertaining.”

And this isn’t just talk from Cook — indeed, Apple has demonstrated its commitment to the technology by hiring a number of experts in the field.

“I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology,” Cook concluded. “But there are things to discover before that technology is good enough for the mainstream. I do think there can be a lot of things that really help people out in daily life, real-life things, that’s why I get so excited about it.”