Augmented Reality: Behind The Scenes Of Digital Magic
If you were shocked to see Pikachu for the first time right there with you in your favorite cafe and went on to wonder if your server had doctored the coffee you were sipping on, then you already know how Augmented Reality can zap you speechless. As the theme song of Pokémon "be the very best, like no one ever wa-a-as," it is possibly the best example of Augmented Reality.
However, that's not it - you interact with AR almost every day when you use your Snapchat and Instagram filters. That's right, the dog ears and the 'Roast Me' jumbotron that data gets attached to your face all happen because of this cool mixed reality technology. Impressed? So were we! This article takes you on a journey where you learn what AR is, how it works, its major elements and where it's going. Let's get started.
The Truth Behind Augmented Reality And How It Works
The meaning of Augmented Reality (AR) is not as technical as it seems. The word 'Augmenting' means to make (something) greater by adding to it. AR application follows the same principle and adds a digital element over real elements to make it larger than life. (Backstreet Boys sing it with me; "and that's what makes you larger than life!") What kind of elements, you ask? Real elements from our day-to-day life such as flowers, your pet dog, or even the Statue of Liberty! In Snapchat's famous dog filter, the dog ears were the digital element that 'augmented' the real element, which in this case will be your face.
Being a creative technology, Augmented Reality has no boundaries. It's as boundless as your imagination. It allows you to place any digital interaction on any real-world object - hence the Pokémon in your favorite cafe. It's not all just fun and games. AR has also found its way into a lot of industrial applications, which we'll see in a short while.
Fun stuff, right? Let’s begin with how it all began.
Back When Someone Asked What’s Real – The Debut Of AR
Although the term 'Augmented Reality' was coined in 1990 by Tom Caudell, a Boeing researcher, the first real instance of 'more than real' happened in 1968. Remember Thanos saying, "Reality can be whatever I want."? Professor Ivan Sutherland thought of that too. Since he didn't have the reality stones with him, he turned to science and invented the first Head-Mounted Display (HMD).
As the name suggests, Head-Mounted Displays are devices that you wear on your head, with a screen or a lens through which you can see the outer world. Usually, this screen has additional graphics that appear to be overlaid on real-world objects - hence augmenting the reality. The issue with the first HMD was that it looked like a helmet that broke up with its fiancée and jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge - it wasn't the most eye-pleasing tech gear. Over time, many industries started using AR to create interactive experiences, especially the entertainment industry - ever noticed the yellow line on the field to mark where the team advanced to get the first touchdown? NFL made use of AR to draw that line all the way back in 1998.
Even today AR technology is used by most soccer broadcasters to trace the path of Messi's shot and the height of Ronaldo's jump - all in real-time. To bring you up to speed, the ugly helmets have also evolved into classy-looking AR glasses. That's how much AR has grown since its birth. It has evolved, as a result, into many distinct kinds, based on the type of AR experience being delivered.
Are There Types Of Augmented Reality?
Absolutely! AR has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. A lot of research and development has gone into this technology. Here we have classified AR types based on how the AR experience is triggered.
Marker-based AR: In Marker-based AR, the AR experience is triggered once the device detects some sort of a pre-defined marker in the real world. For example, let's say that we have an AR filter that will show a 3D thumbs-up emoji every time it spots an "X" in the real world. This marker can be anywhere, a piece of paper, the wall, the floor, or even your forehead. Every time the device spots the marker, it will trigger the required AR action, such as playing an animation or any other task. Think of Google Lens that can show you related products on the net when you point it at something (just one feature amongst many). Here, the marker can be thought of as the product you point your smartphone camera at, like a shirt or a car.
The tech folks at Ikea have done something cool with this technology. They created an app where you can digitally place a piece of furniture in your room and see how it would look and feel when you buy it. If you think about it, this type of tech would have really helped Ross and Chandler move the couch and would have resulted in a lot less real-life, "PIVOT! PIVOT!"
Is AR Changing The World?
The fashion industry is another trade that has benefitted tremendously from Augmented Reality. Zara launched a mobile AR solution app, which when focused on their designated 'Experience the look' markers around their stores can show you animations of models flaunting fashionable apparel - you can see the way it fits and flows. Like we mentioned before, AR knows no bounds, you can go as far as your imagination takes you. With powerful mobile devices being readily available to the public, Augmented Reality applications with digital information has easily touched the lives of millions and it will only grow in its reach.
AR has undoubtedly opened a big door of possibilities. The technology has already found its way into the daily operations at the Singapore airport, where the workers use AR glasses to see the details of the cargo containers, which helps them to load the cargo quickly. Imagine if you could watch the next Super Bowl by augmenting the whole field on your coffee table. Or think about a digital Halloween party where you can be anyone you want; all you have to do is download the digital version of Dracula onto yourself!
With the far reaches of AR, we believe we’ll be meeting you again soon to give you the latest updates. In the interim, there’s a lot more on AR and other related topics which may interest you. Head on over to TechDogs enormous collection of Articles, White Papers, Case Studies, Reports, Videos, Events and get updates on the latest happenings in the world of Technology.
Gotta go now, Charizard is learning how to roast marshmallows.
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