What is Augmented Reality?

What is Augmented Reality?

May 5, 2013

Augmented Reality, also called AR, is a real time view of the environment combined with computer created sensory elements such as images, video, GPS and sound. Many of today's top companies have considered the possibilities offered by AR. Currently, in its infancy, Augmented Reality will soon begin to appear due to the fact that the technology to support it is already found in smartphones and tablets. The Google Project Glass is a great example of the AR movement.

Google GlassGoogle Glass is a wearable computer in the form of eyeglasses (head mounted display) and uses voice commands to take pictures, capture video, share real time footage, compose messages, ask questions and translate. It places directions, time, and location specific information when and where required. Currently, there are five colors: cotton, sky, tangerine, shale and charcoal and was made available to developers and your everyday user through the Glass Explorer Program. The Glass Explorer Program application process was held from February 20, 2013 to the 27th. Those who were selected through the application process received the Google Glass Explorer Edition and paid $1,500.

There are many other applications of wearable AR under development. The head mounted display referred to as HMD, as describe above, places images over the current physical view and changes when the user moves to look at another area. The technology that drives augmented reality includes Microelectromechanical systems, a.k.a. MEMS, which are sensors (GPS / accelerometer / gyroscopes), an input (camera / voice) device, an output (screen / display) device and a processor. More innovative AR imaging screens that are being developed include contact lenses, Virtual Retinal Display (VRD) which scans to the retina and produces a floating display in front of the user, and EyeTap (uses the eye as a camera and display by capturing rays of light that pass through the center of the eye and replaces it for computer controlled light). Handheld AR devices and Spatial Augmented Reality (SAR) devices are the remaining categories. SAR devices use projectors for displaying images onto objects in the environment.

Augmented Reality can add an enhanced educational experience when visiting museums, exhibits, and galleries. Architects can use AR to create an image at a potential construction site and see how the building would fit in the vicinity. Surgeons can have instant access to the patient's information, such as x-rays, blood pressure and more. Soldiers can have critical information such as virtual maps with marked areas notifying of danger. By using a vehicle's windshield, navigation information can be displayed without distraction. For tourists, AR can really help sightseers instantly get information relating to the area visited and help them easily find their way around with translations and directions. Marketing and advertising will benefit as well, since this will be another avenue to pursue to attract customers.

Do you think augmented reality is a great innovation or is it simply another way for the consumer to get bombarded? Let us know below.

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