June 15th, 2015

How developers will use the tools of AJAX and Augmented Reality to meet user demands

Like all technologies, the internet constantly evolves and adapts to new demands. Faster download speeds, better displays, and exciting new devices will change how we interact with the world around us, and as software developers, we must acclimate to the demands of an evolving internet by modifying our code to seamlessly mesh with the emerging mobile internet.

Staying ahead of current trends on the internet is critical, but how can we captivate our end user long enough to get our point across? The answer can be summed up in a single world: interactivity.

Currently, software developers have a tool available to develop websites capable of reacting to users without the need to refresh the page or load a different page − asynchronous Javascript and XML, or AJAX.

By utilizing AJAX, developers are able to:

  • Communicate between php applications on a server and a website on the client-side.
  • Periodically check databases for new information
  • Grab information on demand at the click of a button or link.

Imagine you have several thousand users currently browsing your website, and you post a news article after the users have already started to browse. With an AJAX enabled news feed, any user still perusing the news section will get a small notification that “X” new posts are available.

Developers could also automatically amend the article at the beginning or end of the news feed, responding to an “event” triggered by the user, and then update the content of the page accordingly. “Event” examples include: clicking a link, scrolling the page past a specified distance, or even changing the value of a drop down.

This method reduces the time needed for our site to load, either by reducing the content loaded initially and using AJAX to load the rest of the content on the “document ready” state, or by loading new content as the user scrolls through our site. The result is a website with seamless interaction.

One of the newest technologies that developers will need to adapt to is augmented reality, or mixed reality: “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.”

Augmented reality is a combination of the digital world and the real world and is a unique new way of interacting with our surroundings and the content we consume. Although the result is the same, there are currently two different ways to deliver augmented reality.

The first is through a cell phone. While using your camera phone to display the real world in front you in real-time, you can also overlay additional images on top of the video or image currently being viewed.

Ikea currently has a very good example of how we can use this new technology to market products more effectively. With Ikea’s augmented reality app, potential customers can try out select products in their homes, allowing buyers to see how products will look and fit in their homes. All that’s required is printed catalog, a mobile app, and a smartphone or tablet.

The second example of augmented reality involves the use of a headset, which includes either a visor of glasses. Users see through a screen in front of them, while the headset projects an image onto the wearable screen, blending a digital projection with the surrounding scenery. When it comes to web development, software developers can definitely use some of these features to enhance their own websites.

Developers can take data from their sites to display in the real world, outside of the screen. Or how about an ad in a magazine that can load our website on the wall? We can even possibly build a 3D interactive website that you can walk through. While much of this technology has not been built, it’s a guarantee that we will see more-and-more examples of augmented reality sooner, rather than later because, as our own President Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future, is to create it.”

Rob Lancaster

Web Developer

MorningStar Media

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