We’re all excited for AR’s future, but are we jumping the gun in terms of timing and expectations? This was a question posed by Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash at the recent F8 conference (video below).

Abrash is obviously a credible source from a technical perspective. But credibility in this matter is boosted further by the fact that his vested interest in a faster market makes “cautious optimism” well received.

His take: Though we have lots of AR-like experiences (social filters, stickers, etc.) “full AR” is about 5 years away. That will come with AR’s Macintosh moment, followed by accelerated improvements.

“[It’s] glasses that enhance your vision and hearing seamlessly,” he said to define that vision, “that make you smarter and more capable, and that are light, comfortable, stylish, power efficient, and socially acceptable to be a constant part of your life”.

We often talk about size, cost and tech specs, but his reminder about “socially acceptable” is key. This is a big wild card that can sink or coronate AR glasses based on fashion nuances (see Google Glass).

But of course the tech specs are also important, and governed by Moore’s Law as featured in last week’s Scoble video. That includes display, sound, computer vision, geo data and UX among other factors.

But once we get there, AR’s true appeal will lie in its ambient presence. When it’s sleek and socially acceptable enough for all-day use, it will unlock a massive consumer utility and commercial opportunity.

“Full AR will not be an occasional or special case device,” said Abrash “It will be your always-on helper continually aware of your surroundings, your context, and your history. Constantly mixing the real and virtual worlds to serve your needs and keep you connected.”

See the full video below.

Header image credit: Road To VR