By Tanya Agarwal
Augmented Reality (AR) superimposes computerised images over an individual’s physical real-world environment. AR technology makes the user’s real-world interactive and manipulable. Information about the environment and its objects is overlaid onto the real world. This information may be virtual or real.
Augmented Reality Vs. Virtual Reality
While AR enhances one’s perception of reality, Virtual Reality (VR) replaces the real world with a simulated one. Thus, VR inhabits the virtual environment completely. AR uses the existing natural environment and overlays it with virtual information. AR stimulates co-existence of both, the real and the virtual world. It gives the user a new and improved experience of the natural world. Thus, AR uses virtual information to aid everyday activities.
Far-reaching applications of AR
AR has the ability to potentially send text-notifications. It can also instruct health workers on how to perform life-threatening surgical procedures. It can highlight certain features, enhance understandings, and provide accessible and timely data. Mobile and business applications developed by companies use AR technology. Thus, the information provided is contemporary and relevant to one’s activities.
AR took the world by storm with one of the most popular games of the decade – Pokémon Go. The game is a combination of AR technology, the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the camera functions of various smart devices. Niantic, a software company based in America, designed the game. It induced players to explore the real world to search for Pokémon characters. The players created an avatar. After this, they could view the main map that overlay real-world geographic details. These included streets with in-game items and destinations.
As the player moved in reality, the avatar moved on the AR map. AR superimposes the Pokémon over a real-world image in AR mode. Thus, the game utilised the device’s camera. This caused the virtual character to exist in the natural world. Hence, the player’s attempts at capturing the Pokémon seemed all the more realistic.
Key industry drivers for AR
Initially, only entertainment and game businesses had ventured towards AR to capture captivating experiences. However, today, other industries are also getting interested in the potential of AR. For example, spheres such as education, management of information flood and the organisation of distant meetings all utilise AR technology to their benefits to attract users.
AR has a lot of potential for gathering and sharing implicit knowledge. According to Orbis Research, the AR market may reach $7 trillion by 2027. In some cases, it may grow at the same pace as applications like Pokemon Go did, during their peak activity. Pokemon Go grew to a massive 45 million daily active users per day after having been in the market for two months.
AR’s potential applications are becoming evident. This happens as the technology matures and prices are becoming more economically efficient.
The realm of retail through AR
Today, uncertainty is one of the largest barriers to online shopping. Shopping in the age of Amazon is a much more convenient and curated shopping experience. However, in-store purchases are still higher than sales recorded online. Most studies show that in some cases 88% of total shoppers still prefer buying in-store.
Most of us value the personal experience of holding a product before purchasing it. There is also the added plus of the instantaneous gratification that a quick trip to the store offers over any online experience. In the next 12 months, we’ll start to see more brands leverage AR to let their customers try before they buy. In fact, it has already started to happen.
Followed by the release of Apple’s ARKit, Ikea, too designed an app based on AR. It enables users to browse furniture and place their selections anywhere. For example, in the bus stop, in the coffee shop, or even, in customer’s living rooms.
Inkhunter, a mobile application also uses AR in an innovative manner. It allowed users to visualise how a particular tattoo might look on their body. Another application that used AR is that of Sephora, the global makeup and cosmetics store. It lets customers try on makeup using their front-facing camera. Ray Ban’s app lets users try on different pairs of sunglasses without ever having to visit a store.
AR enhances the entertainment industry
As demonstrated by Pokemon Go, entertainment is one of the most common uses of AR. There is business value in AR’s ease of use for amusement. VR and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are also emerging technologies. Brands are using the three technologies for entertainment and brand awareness purposes, to maximise consumer satisfaction and enhance the one-time experience for their clients.
AR’s potential has superseded that of other technologies because of its pervasiveness. Soon, most of our AR experiences will be meeting us where we already are most active- on our phones. It integrates into our existing digital experiences.
Common examples of AR’s already apparent existence are SnapChat Lenses and Apple’s Animoji. They allow users to use front-facing cameras to produce amusing AR experiences.
Researching and educating through AR
AR has the potential to supplement our limited brain capacity and sensory experiences. It alters the reality of the experience. It, thus, pushes the boundaries of our capabilities.
Star Chart elucidates the night sky to show stars, moons, and planets above a particular geographical location. Google Translate now uses your phone camera to annotate foreign text. AccuVein, a portable device, projects a map of a patients’ vascular system on the skins surface. This increases accuracy in vein puncturing procedures. Thus, it decreases patient pain and frequency of complications during vein puncturing procedures. Within the next year, AR is expected to expand the limitations of mankind’s cognition.
Establishing military and defence through AR
AR is also venturing into the spheres of military, to better encapsulate defence services for soldiers.
A Synthetic Training Environment (STE) is an immersive AR training experience. It paces soldiers in virtual scenarios, stressing them both physically and mentally. This project is still under development as a joint venture between the US Army Research Laboratory, University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Combined Arms Center-Training and Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation.
The GunnAR Helmet is another AR training tool. It enables soldiers in training to identify, track, and fire upon targets. It also allows the soldier to see in a full infrared suite. HUD, another such program lets a soldier know when to track, follow, and fire. Further, it feeds real-time video to whoever wants to watch in first person.
The Layar Reality Browser is an application for iPhone and Android. It shows the world by displaying real time digital information with the real world. It uses the camera on an individual’s mobile device to augment reality. It uses the GPS location feature mobile devices to retrieve data based on an individual’s location. It then displays this data on the mobile screen. It covers details about popular places, structures and movies.
Street Views, another interesting manifestation of AR, shows the names of the restaurants and businesses. These superimpose over their storefronts. Earlier this month, Snapchat announced a new feature. It let users place 3D versions of their Bitmoji avatars into snaps. Thus, it places an animation of the users into the pictures using augmented reality. Now advertisers are being added to the mix to expand the network developed by AR. BMW is the first company to experiment with Snapchat’s AR ads.
Featured Image Credits:
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius