Augmented reality just helped me refresh my tango dance steps for the biggest day in my life.

In a few weeks I am getting married. You better believe I’m going to dance up a storm during my reception. We’ll probably tango, too. But the tango is one dance that I need a refresher on from time-to-time before stepping on the dance floor. So the team at Moonshot used Apple’s ARKit augmented reality development framework built into iOS 11 to create an augmented reality experience, Tango Teacher, to help me learn. As Apple prepares to make augmented reality a mainstream reality, I think it’s instructive to share an example of how businesses and people can use augmented reality to create lovable, useful experiences.

Apple has made no secret of its aspirations to accelerate the use of augmented reality. One way Apple is doing so is to publish tools for developers to design augmented reality applications, which is why Apple unveiled ARKit in June. Since then, developers have been doing exactly what Apple would hope: experiment and share. Developers have created applications to do everything from shop for IKEA furniture to battle zombies.

With Apple reportedly releasing more augmented reality products September 12, you can expect even more demos, as well as demos becoming real applications.

Which brings me to the Moonshot Tango Teacher app. At Moonshot we believe that a Mixed Reality future awaits all businesses and consumers.  Ultimately virtual reality will eclipse augmented reality for immersive entertainment experiences such as games or new ways to visualize complex problems based on data-driven design, whereas businesses will use augmented reality for more utilitarian solutions such as teaching you how to tango. Virtual reality lends itself to world building. Augmented reality is about expanding what’s possible in our world. Tango Teacher is one such example.  Needless to say, we will empower these Mixed Reality experiences with artificial intelligence, and Brands will be defined by their ability to engage with consumers beyond traditional means.

A two-person team at Moonshot was responsible for designing the Tango Teacher app. As they told me, the challenge to creating Tango was not applying ARKit, per se – but rather designing an experience for a phone’s small screen with augmented reality content. The heavy lifting came from designing a user experience in which someone holds their phone in front of them and learns how to tango by watching the instructions appear on the floor via augmented reality. Designing the experience means, for example:

  • Appreciating a person’s limited range of vision as they hold a phone and navigate a dance step.
  • Taking into account how long it takes to look at a screen, look at the ground, and react to the experience occurring onscreen.

We believe businesses can make significant gains with augmented reality, especially with the understanding that people have all the technology they need to use an augmented experience right in their pockets, now a reality that Apple is launching iOS 11 and 100s of millions of devices will support AR. But those experiences need to be lovable and useful. If the experiences are not lovable, people will not use them. If they are not useful, people will use them once and never again.

Tango is our experiment with a lovable, and useful augmented reality experience. Let me know what you think of it. Meanwhile, I am going to keep learning how to tango as my wedding day approaches.