Terminator, Predator, Robocop, IronMan, and Minority Report those movies have one thing in common. Of course, we’re not talking here about superheroes fighting villains or other variations of an eternal struggle between good and evil.
Tom Cruise (Minority Report) walks down the shop alley, where the commercials of items he’d like to buy are displayed. IronMan’s suit is so advanced that it gives real-time visual information. Thus Tony Stark can do his magic. Missions objectives presented in Robocop’s helmet. So is with Predator’s headgear, which is showing heat signals. The same is in Terminator, where built-in computers display various information.
I bet you already know that what connects those movies is augmented reality (AR). So let’s focus on the definition at first. In all of the above examples, we had an extra layer of some information displayed in the actual world. Those additional layers are enhancing reality, adding data, describing something, or can be new objects placed in the real world. Following the Oxford Dictionary definition, AR is: “a technology that combines computer-generated images on a screen with the real object or scene that you are looking at.”
So, simplifying it, AR allows you to see in a psychical world, objects that are not there. AR is enhancing our view by computer-generated entities. We can even say that AR is putting some magic into our visions.
We know that we need some displays to see augmented reality in action. Here we can use cameras in our mobile devices, headgears, or – so-called – special AR devices.
With mobile devices, it’s simple. We all have them; we all use them. With smartphones that we utilize every-day, we need a trigger, that will call objects to appear. There are called markers – unique images or QR codes, that the camera scans, recognizes, and shows objects. Marker-based AR required some preparation before going into action. Firstly, those markers needed to be made. Secondly, users were required to have an application on their mobile devices to set it on the motion. Thus, it could not be so accessible.
Our mobile devices can check our locations, and this could indicate AR objects to emerge. Everyone who has heard about Pokemon Go knows what Marker-Less AR is. We still need an app, but the trigger will happen without the intentional use of the mobile device – no scanning before seeing.
Augmented reality can also appear by projections. Let’s say you are doing something that requires instructions. Those manuals can be displayed as letters next to your works. Projection AR, to simplify it, is like a hologram, but it’s posted on the surface of something. Here, we have an AR that we cannot take with ourselves. It’s “stuck” to the place, where projections perform.
The biggest magic we can achieve with so-called superimposition-based AR. As the name suggests, here we can replace, expand, enhance the physical world. We can place the couch in our living room, turn back in time and see the specific site, or see our future home. In a nutshell, we can replace parts or even entire visible world.
AR is most commonly related to mobile devices. Usually, smartphones that are equipped with cameras. They allow us to download applications that are opening augmented worlds in front of us. Nowadays, AR settles also in web browsers. WebAR enables users to see 3D objects directly from browsers, like Chrome, Safari, etc. While browsing an online store, you can click on the button and see the visualizations of products.
Mobile devices have their limitations in enhancing worlds. The most earthbound is that usually, people carry those tools in their pockets, or another way hidden. We couldn’t imagine driving a car and exploring AR. Thus, some other devices are arising. While driving a vehicle, we would use a head-up display (HUD). It could be situated on the shield. Of course, it would be translucent, so no one will lose attention on driving. HUDs can show GPS guidance, car diagnostics, help with recognition of road obstacle detection.
There are also pieces of equipment that we can carry with ourselves or on ourselves- AR-headgears, usually glasses. AR-glasses applications are endless, and they might be the future of technology, starting from manufacturing, business, sports, through tourism, commerce, marketing. We need to assume that those glasses would not tease our tastes. No worries. Firstly, De gustibus non est disputandum. Secondly, AR-goggles are becoming more and more fashionable. Thirdly, lenses might replace AR glasses.
Nevermind the providing device of AR-experiences. One thing is sure – it creates another layer for businesses. Whether we would like to utilize it in marketing, storytelling, sales, the new chances are awaking. Augmented reality is changing users’ perspectives by adding another dimension.
We can risk a thesis that human beings always wanted to imagine more. AR is giving the canvas to show those dreams as real.
That’s why augmented reality was announced as the NEXT BIG THING.
What should we remember about AR?
It combines the physical world with a computer-generated one. It shows images, 3D objects, as they were in the physical world.
As always, there’s an app for that, or apps, or web pages.
It creates a new layer of narration for businesses, creates immersive experiences for users. It can be triggered by some marks, location, displayed via smartphone, tablet, glasses, or other special devices.
And, yes, it’s the next big thing.
It’s time to ask, where did this AR come from?
But it’s a story for the next time.
Folks have a good one!