What Is Augmented Reality?

What is augmented reality? It’s commonly known as AR and often confused with VR, due to their similarities in their names and what they do. But what’s the best, and most simple way, to explain?

Well, augmented reality allows users to enhance their surroundings (reality) visually using their phone or device. It does this by generating images over real life images, enhancing a person’s perception of their surroundings. Unlike the very similar VR (virtual reality), which changes the entire environment and brings the user to ‘virtual’ surroundings. 

Augmented reality allows users to still see their surroundings with enhanced features whereas virtual reality takes the user to a complete different surroundings.

AR has grown rapidly throughout the past few years and is seen as one of the most advanced technologies of the present day. Below our content writer James will have a great look at what all the hype is about. 

Augmented Reality Phone night and day buildings



How Long has Augmented Reality Been in Use?

Surprisingly, the first appearance of augmented reality was way back in 1968, but it wasn’t until 1998 (30 years after the first existence), that it first made its way into the entertainment industry. 

The early years…

In 1968 a Harvard Professor and one of his students invented the first instance of augmented reality. It was a head-mounted display device that hung from a ceiling and needed the user to wear a device. This generated computer graphics and is also often seen as being one of the first instances of virtual reality (VR). It wasn’t until six years in 1974, that a larger system was made. The system was developed by Myron Krueger and was known as an ‘artificial reality’. It used many different projectors and video cameras to emit silhouettes on an onscreen interactive environment. 

In 1992 one of the earliest functioning AR systems was created for the air force. It allowed the air force to control virtually guided machinery operating from a remote. 

Two years later in 1994 the first augmented reality theater production was produced. It used projections and video technology to show virtual objects on the stage, dancers on the stage then seemed to dance around these objects. The production was a great success. It was accurately called ‘Dancing in Cyberspace’, showing how AR seemed to be an ‘out of this world’ technology back then. 


Snapchat AR example


(We hope you like our ProfileTree pet running riot on our home page! Courtesy of a Snapchat Filter…a form of AR)

Modern Augmented Reality…

From the early 2000’s to now, we’ve seen a real boom in Augmented Reality. The NFL have used it in its league, being used for to insert virtual lines onto the field from its very popular and widely used Skycam. Robert Downey Jr, came to life on a cover of a magazine once a user scans the cover. A fantastic use of AR.

Volkswagen have also started to use the technology as a way to train mechanics and technicians. Their MARTA app shows a step by step guide to a technician. This allows technicians to learn by themselves. Google also released the Google Glass which is a device in the shape of glasses a user wears. With the help of the device, users can easily identify businesses on the street. They can, for example, easily read the reviews of each business from their glasses.

Billions of dollars has now been invested into new augmented technology with companies such as Microsoft joining in on all the fun. Nintendo also give out AR cards with some of their 3DS games.


How Does Augmented Reality Work?

Different devices use augmented reality in different ways from one another. Devices that users wear, such as the Google Glasses, bring AR to the user’s eyes directly. Other devices use cameras for apps within the device. Applications such as Snapchat and Pokemon Go use they type of AR. 

And finally, projectors and video equipment can be used for augmented reality. This is how the theater production of ‘Dancing in Cyberspace’ was produced.

A side note: if you remember Tupac’s special appearance at Coachella in 2012, many people will think this was augmented reality, when in fact it was an animation being bounced of a mirror. 

Summary: The Future of Augmented Reality

In the future augmented reality will be integrated more and more into daily life. With the rise of wearable AR devices it could mean companies could using augmented reality within their advertising around cities and buildings. This could bring advertising to life and bring advertising into an entirely new era.

VR has been used widely now in games. So, it won’t belong until AR will also be used more and more. The usual type of augmented reality games are usually mobile or handheld, as AR not been fully introduced to gaming consoles and other gaming platforms. In the future, don’t be surprised if console manufacturers bring the concept to consoles.

Other industries can also continue to take augmented reality in their stride. The automotive industry is one, with Volkswagen being one of the first companies who have used the technology in the industry. It can also be widely used in healthcare for the likes of operations and surgery. The technology could show surgeons where to perform certain cuts and perform certain parts of the operation easily. It could also be used to train professionals in all kinds of fields.

Further more… In the automotive industry, the technology could be used for GPS services and find out other information that could potentially save lives on the road.

If you own a business a pressing question is whether to invest now or wait and potential be behind your competitors later!



Source: TED YouTube Channel: Published 11/04/2016 


More Augmented Reality Articles… Types of Augmented Reality | Augmented Reality Examples | Augmented Reality Future Trends | Advertising with Augmented Reality

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