What is Augmented Reality?

Augment means ‘Extended’ & Reality means the state of things as they actually exist, thus augmented reality is nothing but extended reality. We often get confused between virtual reality and augmented reality but there is a lot of difference between both of them. Virtual reality is more immersive while augmented reality extends existing reality. Virtual Reality enables a user to completely transpose from the physical environment to a virtual environment while Augmented Reality enables the user to virtually extend his existing reality into a more interactive form. E.g. with VR you can swim with the sharks while with AR you can watch a shark popping out of your screen.

As quoted by Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

“I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently… That has resonance.”

Definition of Augmented Reality

“Augmented Reality or Computer Mediated Reality is nothing but the extension of existing reality in real time with the help of computer software’s or programs which helps the user to better interact with it.”

The term ‘Augmented Reality’ was coined in 1990, by Boeing Researcher Mr. Thomas Caudell though the history says that the dawn of the AR has traces since 1968 When Ivan Sutherland also considered as the father of computer graphics developed the first head mounted display system (HMD).

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are inversely proportional to each other. VR is a recreation of the physical environment while AR recreates a virtual element as an overlay to the real world.

Milgram's Continuum

Source: Augment

Applications of Augmented Reality

Similar to Virtual Reality, the applications of Augmented Reality are limitless. Remember Robert Downey Jr. aka Tony Stark in Iron Man series, seems a little far-fetched, right? But believe it or not, it’s a hardcore technology exactly or similar to the one depicted in the movie where Tony Stark builds an Arc Reactor using his father’s prototype design. Scientists today are virtually recreating designs and models of machines and prototype more or less similar to that of Tony Starks with the help of AR.

Devices such as Displays (Optical projection systems, monitors), Eyeglasses, Head up Displays (HUD), Contact Lenses, Virtual Retina Displays, Eyetaps, Handhelds etc. captures the real-world view and redisplays them as augmented views providing additional information to the user without requiring the users to look away from their actual viewpoints.

Marketing

AR is majorly used in video marketing and product marketing. AR helps the customers to experience & preview the product without opening the packaging. It also enables the customer to customize the products as per their requirements e.g. virtual dressing rooms enables the customer to try different outfits and peripherals virtually.

Watch how Pepsi Max used AR in incredibly different ways for their #LiveForNow Campaign

Gaming

The gaming industry has been using AR technology since quite a while now AR enables players to experience digital video games in the physical environment or real-world environment e.g. Titans of Space, AR-enhanced pool tables, AR air hockey. Pokemon Go launched in 2016 allowed AR to take center stage by bringing Pikachu and Charizard out of the game box onto our front lawns.

Industries, Archaeology, Architecture

AR is used in all these industries to formulate designs and virtual structures, be it ruins or demolished structures in archaeology or visualizing building projects, structures & machines, and prototypes in the industrial sector. It is also cost effective as it helps to reduce the cost incurred to build an actual physical prototype.

Education

Videos, Images, Graphics etc. is considered to be an easy way to better understand things. Psychology says a visual memory is better to remember and more feasible to understand thus, AR plays a major role in the field of education embedded videos and graphics in the real-world environment provide in-depth information about anything. e.g. iWOW App is a mobile based AR enabled world globe it provides superimposed information about all the countries, satellite’s, weather, flights etc. Thanks to AR we are now able to provide a more interactive learning experience. Along with this AR is also used in military and flight training via means of simulators and to map overlays of trajectories of various objects in geographic coordinates

Medical

AR has tremendous applications in the Medical sector from treating phobias, trauma’s, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). AR can give us a better view of ultrasounds, endoscopies, X-rays etc. Devices such Near-Infrared Vein Finder enables doctors to create a vein map of a human body.

The above mentioned are the few applications of AR as we know it today but its true potential & applications are yet to be explored and are limitless. Till then fasten your seat-belts coz we are up for a ride to the future. 😊