We are probably many who have heard of Augmented Reality, but many people do not know the exact meaning of the technology and what it can mean for our lives. But what is AR? How is it used today and what does the future look like when it comes to AR?
What is AR?
Augmented Reality, also known as Mixed Reality, is often confused with VR but is in fact something completely different. When the purpose of VR is to hide the real world and replace it with a fictional reality, Augmented Reality is there instead meant to add something to our reality. By adding virtual objects to your reality, you get more out of what you see.
When a person’s reality is supplemented, or added to (augmented) with computer generated images, you get an Augmented Reality. For example, if you’ve played Pokémon Go or used any of Snapchat’s filters, you’ve already used a slightly simpler version of AR.
For many, AR still feels like something remote and futuristic. And just a few years ago, this kind of technology seemed like something unattainable. But the technology in mobile telephony has progressed at an incredible rate and those who do not keep up to date, are easily surprised when a new and cool feature is released. In fact, today we already have access to a lot of AR, directly through our smartphones. And AR can very likely be the next step in how we collect and process information.
The term Augmented Reality, AR, means to reinforce
The word Augment comes from the Latin word Augere and means to add something.
The rise of Augmented Reality, AR
The term was coined in 1990 by Thomas Caudell, a former Boeing scientist. It all began during the process of developing an alternative to the expensive diagrams with airplane management instructions. The lead instructions were used to guide the workers on the factory floor through individually designed plywood boards. Caudell got the idea of a head-mounted device that would show these diagrams by projecting them onto reusable cards. Instead of changing the plywood card manually, you could now easily change this in a computer system, and now AR was born.
What is the difference between AR and VR?
AR, Augmented Reality, is often mixed with VR, Virtual Reality. But the thing is that these two are quite different. Simply put, you can say that VR gives you a different reality while AR builds on and reinforces the real world in a visual way. With VR glasses, your entire environment is often closed out and transported to another virtual location. AR instead adds information and images to what we see to provide increased functionality.
The future of AR
So what can we expect from Augmented Reality, AR, now and in the near future? There are actually many different exciting projects going on. We have listed some of the most interesting ones here.
Magic Leap – One
There has been a lot of talk about Magic Leap One and the project has been quite secretive for a long time. But now Magic Leap is finally available to order to your home for the ones with good finances (read: it’s really expensive!). Magic Leap One provides you with an immersive experience on a whole new level than other AR headsets deliver today. With a lightweight headset, the digital world is brought together with our real world in a seamless way.
Magic Leap lets in natural light waves together with softly layered synthetic light fields. These two initiate neural signals that go from the retina to the visual part of the brain, creating extremely believable experiences. Magic Leap One creates objects that are contextually aware, which means that the zombie crawling on your living room floor, must walk around your couch to reach you. In addition to this, the headset has an audio system that enhances the sense of reality by producing sound based on where it comes from in the room with accurate direction and strength. Therefore you do not need only need to rely your eyes to know where in the room an object is located.
Magic Leap One has also developed their own operating system to maximize their groundbreaking technology, the Lumin OS. The Lumin OS is fully optimized for recognizing environments, for managing persistent digital content and for driving visual experiences that make your wildest fantasies into an even wilder reality. Read more about Magic Leap One.
Microsoft has developed HoloLens, a holographic computer that lets you view and interact with the content it projects on the world around you. HoloLens uses specialty sensors, a holographic processor and with that, Microsoft wants to be able to change the way we work, learn and share information. HoloLens has been available since 2016 and since then hundreds of apps have been developed for this computer. There are games, you can visit historical monuments or look into a residence that is not yet built. The possibilities for HoloLens are really great.
Vuzix has created so-called SmartGlasses, which they call Blade. While many other AR glasses are large and bulky, the Blade glasses are not much larger than a pair of regular glasses. With Blade you get a hands-free interaction on a smart screen with a transparent viewing experience that gives you relevant information wherever you go. Everything from restaurant menus, directions and patient information.
For those of you who are interested in cars, Navion is a good example of a promising future in AR. Navion is developed by the company WayRay and is a holographic navigation system for cars. Navion’s AR interface gives you a clear picture of the route you have chosen and also provides other important information so that you arrive at your destination as quickly and safely as possible. You get an Augmented Reality right in front of your car, no special glasses or headsets required, instead the technology being placed in your car. The function has not yet been released to the public but Porsche and Hyundai have funded the project and the service is said to be released in 2020.
Popular AR apps
In addition to extremely cool headsets, there are also common apps, for our smartphones, that use AR. Below we have listed some of the most popular apps within Augmented Reality.
The mobile game, Pokémon Go, was released on July 6, 2016 and became a huge hit right away. The app has been downloaded about 750 million times so far. After the app was released, people went out of their houses to look up and capture various Pokémons around their surroundings. In addition to seeing your avatar move across the map with the same pace as you, you can also use your camera to see the virtual Pokémon on the street, right in front of you. Pokéballs are then thrown at the creature to catch it.
Pokémon Go was a whole new way to play a mobile game that was not only fun but also got people to get out and move around. Together, all Pokémon Go players have taken 144 billion steps while playing the game. That is enough steps to walk to the moon, 143 times!
The game lives on, still today, though its original popularity has died out somewhat.
For those of you who are active in the Snapchat app, you have probably used Snapchat’s Augented Reality with their various filters. These filters allow you to place ears, glasses, mustaches and so on, on yourself or on people around you in real time. These filters are starting to become more and more common and something we may take for granted today. But the technology behind it has been an important part of the AR’s progress. And Snapchat continues to invest in AR and has released the 3D Paint feature that lets you draw in an Augmented Reality.
Google Maps has a new Live View feature that brings you AR directly into your map view. Live View helps you find your way by adding virtual signs and directional arrows over your live cam view.
Chalk uses AG to give technical support an extra boost. Chalk sets up a video call between two smart devices where one person films what they need help with while the agent/support technician can paint on their screen to give instructions, all at the same time as a normal call is in progress.
AR is a way to reinforce the reality we see and can add an extra layer to our everyday lives. Already we have a lot of AR in place today but with the entry of 5G AR will probably get a new momentum. We can expect many exciting things from Augmented Reality in the future.
Want to know more about 5G? Here you will find everything you need to know about 5G.