Many tech insiders are waiting for augmented reality to go mainstream, but if you look around hard enough, you'll find that it's already gone as mainstream as possible, thanks to talk show host Ellen Degeneres.
Degeneres and her partner, actor Portia de Rossi, recently teamed up with Krikey, a San Francisco-based augmented reality app studio, to create Gorillas!, an AR experience designed to raise awareness about the plight of endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
If you're a TV refusenik and don't know who Degeneres (commonly referred to as "Ellen") is, she's only one of the most popular talk show hosts on the planet, with 78 million Twitter followers and 73 million Instagram followers. So when Ellen starts talking about AR, expect a lot more mainstream consumers to get on board.
As for the app, it's a part of the overall Krikey AR game menu and, once opened, presents you with a large 3D model of the Earth. Soon after, the app plunges you down into the forests of Rwanda to meet a cute AR gorilla who you interact with via gamified feedings and limited exploration of the virtual fauna.
There's also a two-player mode in which a friend can play the game with you remotely, and an option that allows you to record a video of your game play and your role in the game for sharing, thus spreading the empathy message for the endangered animals.
I took the app for a brief spin and, while it does a great job of rendering the cute little ape, the plane detection was shaky at times, and it wasn't always clear what the experience wanted you to do next with the furry critter.
Still, as a way to introduce the legions of Ellen fans to AR, it's a great start, while also working toward a good cause (the app was supported by The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund).
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