Augmented reality enhances our experience of the real world by overlaying computer generated content onto it. Whereas VR creates an entire virtual world in which we are immersed, AR keeps us in the real world, but superimposes the computer generated content, seamlessly merging the real and virtual worlds. Thus, for example, when you point your phone at the site where a new building is to be constructed, the relevant app overlays a photorealistic image of the completed building on the site, perfectly blended in with the real world environment – as if it is already there. It can also overlay all sorts of information about the building, such as the date of completion, the price of an apartment, and so on.
In this post, we will define the types of AR, which devices can be used to view AR, and identify the areas that this disruptive technology will be used in the future, or is already being used.
Types of Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality uses a special visual marker, a distinctive image
that can be recognised by the device. This can be anything, as long as it has
enough unique features. This is scanned by your phone’s camera to anchor the
digital overlay to the real world. In this way, for example, an educational
animation can come alive when the user points the camera at the relevant page
of a book. When you move the book around, the animation stays rooted to the
correct position in the book.
Augmented Reality is used when the virtual object does not need to be
anchored to the real world. The users decide where they want to place the
virtual object – for example, when moving virtual furniture around in your real
apartment, or when interacting with a virtual game character.
AR ties augmented reality content to a specific
location. It uses a GPS, a compass, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer to
provide data based on user’s location. This is commonly used to provide users
with information about the real world environment that they find themselves in,
such as location and details about local businesses, entertainment, and so on.
AR projects synthetic light onto physical surfaces
and allows for interaction with the user by detecting alterations in the user’s
behaviour compared to the device’s expectations of the correct procedure to be
followed. This is of great value in education and industry. A worker assembling
parts of a car can follow instructions projected onto the relevant part of the
car, showing where to do what. When it detects a deviation on the worker’s
behalf from the correct procedure, it instructs him or her to make the
AR. Superimposition based augmented reality is a form
of marker-based AR that either partially or fully replaces the original view of
an object with a newly augmented view of that same object. Object recognition
is needed to replace the original view with the augmented one. Thus, for
example, in medical practice, an X-ray view of a patient’s broken arm bone can
be superimposed on the doctor’s view of the real arm to provide a clear
understanding of the patient’s actual condition.
Devices suitable for Augmented reality
Displays (HUD). This was first developed for fighter pilots to
enable them, at critical times, to focus all their attention on what is
happening in front of them, outside the aircraft, rather than having to look
down at the array of controls inside the cockpit. Critical information is
projected on transparent screens mounted in front of the pilot. Because
parallel light rays focused on infinity (collimation) are used in this
projection, the pilot’s need to shift focus from the data to the scene outside
the cockpit is significantly reduced. This technology is now being applied in
motorcars to address the same problem. Helmet mounted displays have made
this technology accessible to general aviation, manufacturing, sports and other
displays use light diffraction to generate a virtual
three-dimensional image of an object in real space. The greatest advantage of
this type of display is that it does not require special glasses or external
equipment for the viewer to see the image. It has long been a standard of
science fiction, and it still has an almost magical or highly futuristic aura
about it, which is another great advantage that can be exploited in various
fields, such as entertainment and marketing.
Smart glasses are self-contained computers with mobile apps that can be conveniently
worn. Some use touch buttons while others use voice commands to communicate
with the Internet. However, Google Glasses, a pioneering product in this field,
met with widespread opposition because of its intrusive nature, even before it
was launched. Banned from cinemas, theatres, restaurants, casinos, hospitals,
strip clubs, and form being used while driving, it was discontinued as a
consumer product in 2015. But a version dedicated to the workplace is doing
Handheld AR (or
mobile AR). This development is of particular importance,
since it has made a host of AR experiences readily accessible to the general
public. All you need is a smart phone. It is employed in gaming, entertainment,
business analytics, sports, and social networking, amongst other things.
The use of AR in the near future
Here are some of the areas in which AR is being used or will be in the near future.
- Medical Training and practice
- Gaming and entertainment
- Property marketing
- Business Logistics
- Repair & Maintenance
- Public Safety
In closing …
The augmented reality market has a very bright future and, according to Markets and Markets, is expected to reach USD 60.55 Billion by 2023.
overlays digital information onto the real world, its applications are far more
extensive than those of Virtual Reality. The immersive nature of the latter
limits its application to specific situations, where it can be very powerful.
AR, on the other hand, is set to be pervasive in our real world experience in
the near future, its applications ranging from entertainment, shopping and
travel to education, design, medical, marketing, industry and military.
Whatever the nature of your business, the question is not so much whether you
need AR but what form of AR do you need.