Augmented Reality (AR) Basics: 5 Things to Know

Augmented reality is the technology that got into our lives relatively recently, but for sure will stick with us for a long period. And to prepare you for AR age, we gathered the few things, which definitely help to understand this “sci-fi” tech that is already taking place in the global world.

Fact #1. First things first, AR is not VR

Virtual reality in its basis gives a glance at the whole new world by replacing the real with a simulative version. Instead of it, augmented reality complements the actual world with digital objects and images (3D models, projections, overlays). By using a variety of AR devices we can oversee both physical and virtual reality in real-time and in 3D.

You also could hear about mixed reality. Someone even may call it AR cousin or younger sibling. The term MR, in comparing with AR and VR, appeared recently and means combining the best of two words — augmented and virtual reality. It helps to see the real and digital world both at once, as AR, but the user can interact with the virtual side at the more advanced level, as in VR.

Fact #2. AR has already been here for a while

The first essential step in AR development was made in far 1968 when the computer scientist Ivan Sutherland created the HMD system, which showed the real world overlaid by computer graphics. Five decades later we can experience AR with the help of smartphone, tablets, headsets or, in some cases, PC.

Today’s devices use its software, sensors and digital projectors to insert virtual objects onto the physical world. Currently, there are few types of augmented reality, which can be shown by one or another gadget:

  • Projection-based AR (projects digital images on physical objects in the real world);
  • Recognition-based AR (scanned AR markers are replaced with the digital image);
  • Location-based AR (by using GPS, compass and accelerometer, the location image is overlaid with the relevant information);
  • Outlining AR (works a bit like projection-based AR, usually is used in architecture and engineering to outline the boundaries);
  • Superimposition based AR (uses object recognition to replace the entire real object or just a part of it with an augmented view).

For example, the Google Glass, which attracted a lot of attention in 2013, created augmented content by displaying 2D images onto see-through glasses. Instead of it, today’s market leader Microsoft’s HoloLens sets 3D images into the surrounding world. In 2018 we are expecting to see another one AR headset, Magic Leap One, which, probably, will have even more progressive technologies to expand the AR abilities.

Fact #3. AR is unstoppable

Until recently, the “augmented reality” could be called exotic and outlandish term, and only the fans of sci-fi would understand it. But, the last couple of years, especially after Pokemon Go tremendous success, this phrase is buzzing around the world.

The augmented reality is developing rapidly and soon will become part of our day-to-day lives.In 2014 the revenue from the AR app was about $5 billion, but specialists’ predict for 2020 the revenues from VR and AR hardware and software will reach the number of $162 billion. Well-known AR app Pokemon Go during the first 90 days after deployment generated $600 million, more than all VR games during 2016.

The augmented reality companies, such as Sony, Microsoft, Niantic, etc., are working on app and software development, trying to enhance users’ experience. And AR industry is not a place only for big technologies companies. In November 2017 there were 1,261 augmented reality startup companies, while early that year it was accounted only 737, which consisted 71% of growth during the 9 months.

Fact #4. Even NASA uses AR

One of the first AR mobile applications were navigation apps. And even NASA estimated the benefits of augmented reality in this sphere and in 1999 NASA’s spacecraft x-38 was equipped with a special AR navigation dashboard.

Best known for entertainment goals, AR now has a varied range of usage. It has impacted almost every side of life, including retail and e-commerce, education, tourism, sports, manufacturing, healthcare, marketing, military and art.

Thousand of AR mobile applications are already available in both major app stores. And it is expected, that the number will fastly increase after releasing Apple ARKit.

(via Snapchat)

Fact #5. AR is here to improve our lives

The Pokemon Go hysteria made people go outside and walked miles in a hope to catch a new 3D Pokemon. And now a numerous AR app offers users to change their lives in a better way. Besides the augmented reality helps to stay fit, we can name a few other improvements it brings to everyday life.

Obtain deeper knowledge — an even simple visiting museum with the help of AR become more interactive and noticeable. Imagine how more convenient can be studying in the schools and universities when students can see the see educational materials in 3D format.

Improve your health — we believe that the AR usage in most hospitals around the world will take place in nearest future due to its underestimating help in determine patients’ conditions and to diagnose.

Explore surroundings environment — the AR navigations apps give chance not only orientate on the ground, but help to plan your trip and the AR hotel room tours make the choice of accommodations much easier.

Try before you buy — AR in online shopping bring the benefits for both consumers and retailers: the first know, what they buy, the second — not lose money on returns.

From our side, we are sure that we’ll see an even bigger development and wider implementation of AR technologies in all sphere of life — will it be via the headsets, smart glasses, smartphones or even smart lenses. Soon, we’ll find it.


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