What Is Augmented Reality?
Although Augmented Reality (AR) has been common practice for decades, it is only recently earning itself a reputation for being one of the most important and innovative advancements in the electronics industry. The basis of this technology allows for individuals to superimpose a graphic or audio bit from a computer screen onto a real time environment. These graphics or sounds are reliant on the user’s perspective, and are adjusted to every movement of the user’s eyes or head.
The most well-known example of AR technology can be seen in Football, where the broadcasters have the ability to superimpose a yellow line across the field to symbolize a first down line. Throughout the years, technology has advanced, and we have seen this simple yellow line evolve into a number of diverse creations. As you read further, you will gain an understanding as to how Augmented Reality works, and the role it is playing in today’s society.
How Does It Work?
As Augmented Reality is still in its infancy, the technology remains relatively simple. Generally relying on either a headset or video screen, AR uses a combination of cameras and GPS systems to help blur the line between the reality that the user is experiencing, and the content provided by technology.
As computers are becoming more powerful and cost efficient, we are seeing an abundance of new opportunities emerging to put this technology to use. In the future, we will see a heavy focus on Augmented Reality through a variety of industries and life styles. Although AR is still relatively new, there are some interesting prototypes that can influence this vision. Pioneer’s AR Navigation system was recently released, and contains some of the most advanced technology available in this field. Google has expanded their “Google Lab” into their android phones, and Layar has designed an interactive application that processes real-time surroundings and reports a variety of data. Let’s take a look at each of these applications, and how they are influencing the future of Augmented Reality.
Pioneer Japan recently announced their new In-car Navigation system that is based on the combination of AR technology and GPS. This system is the first of its kind, and augments reality by identifying cars, traffic lights, streets, and other objects in the real world to help guide the driver through traffic. The navigation system consists of a 7 inch LCD display that is wirelessly hooked up to an small dash camera. With all the basics such as DVD, CD, USB, and SD readers, this is one of the most technologically advanced navigation system on the market. This device was released to the public on May 2011, for the price of $3700.
Google released this technology based on their previous “Google Lab”, which allows users to upload an image to their website, and receive a variety of information regarding the image. Google Goggles is an experimental application that was designed specifically for Android phones (Google branded phones). The user opens the application, snaps a photo, and waits. Google processes the information present in the image, and returns a variety of information. This application eliminates the need to type on your phone, and allows for a variety of possible functions.
The most useful application of this technology is for exchanging business cards. When a business card is photographed, information such as the individual’s name, phone number, email, and business are directly imported into your android’s contact information. This is important, as it takes a mundane task that can take 1 – 2 minutes, and does it almost instantaneously.
As the technology is still young, Google Goggles has some weaknesses. It struggles to distinguish different varieties of vehicles, animals, and people. With this being said, Google is focusing on advancing this technology, and ultimately changing how we use our devices in the future.
Layar is similar to Google Goggles, as it processes real-time information and instantly reports feedback. Layar takes this technology to the next level, by displaying real-time digital data on top of the physical world surrounding the user. Layar is an application designed for smart phones that allow the user to point their camera anywhere in their surrounding, and receive information on top of the real world objects. These layers range from real estate information, bars and restaurants, testimonials, and company information.
Layar has played a huge role in the advancement of Augmented Reality, and are going to be a leader in this industry. Recently, Layar has partnered with a number of big online names, including Twitter, Wikipedia, Yelp, Brightkite, and Trulia. With this strong foundation, Layar will be one of the most influential companies designing Augmented Reality applications.
The Future of Augmented Reality
As you can see, Augmented Reality has the capability of changing how we see the world. Imagine meeting someone for the first time, and having their information instantly displayed in front of you. As technology advances, there will be more and more opportunities to incorporate Augmented Reality into our daily lives. Today, we still have the basics; the yellow first down line that is superimposed onto the Football field; the navigation system that shows you exactly where you need to go, on a real-time screen; the ability to instantly upload an individual’s information via scanning their business card; the opportunity to display local restaurants through scanning the environment with your phone. Augmented Reality is changing the foundation of Marketing, eCommerce, and Business. Where will we be 10 years from now? We haven’t designed an App for that yet!