Augmented reality has always been part of Hollywood culture with its portrayal in movies as ubiquitous as The Beatles was in the 60s. It can be seen in various movies across different genres, depicted as holograms, computer projections, or even as high-tech maps.
While augmented reality has been around, perhaps as a concept, for many decades now, it has only gained popularity relatively recently. It has allowed many people to live out their fantasies through their wide usage in gaming and entertainment. It has eased the lives of consumers and travelers with their many applications in travel and commerce. Above all, it has truly helped to save lives with its applications in surgery and healthcare.
As augmented technology continues to advance and become more sophisticated, we can finally see the world in a different light with many augmented-reality displays and glasses, informative graphics that can appear anywhere you look, and audio that play together with what you see.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR), as the name suggests, is a world that has been added to or enhanced through technology. It is the very process of using technology to overlay pieces of information and virtual objects on any scene that we witness in real-time. As opposed to virtual reality where the entire surrounding world is made up of virtual objects, AR seeks to enhance the natural world by superimposing various virtual objects onto the natural world to create an enhanced user experience.
Over the past few years, many developers have created apps and various equipment that make use of augmented technology, which opened up newer applications and introduced the technology to a wider audience. For sports fans, this has been used quite extensively for pre-game and halftime shows where various effects are shown on the game floor. For gamers, perhaps the most popular and widely-anticipated release of AR gaming was the Pokémon Go! App where gamers were able to see their favorite Pokémon in various regions using GPS coordinates and their camera.
Types of Augmented Reality Technology
There are several categories into which augment reality technology can be separated. Each of these categories varies in their objectives as well as their applications. These categories include:
Marker-based Augmented Reality
Marker-based AR relies on image recognition to produce results when the marker is sensed by the camera. These markers are usually in the form of a QR or 2D code – any visual pattern that can be easily recognized without needing significant processing power. When the markers are read, they produce images, videos, or any other form of content that have been embedded into the code.
Markerless Augmented Reality
Instead of using markers as an indicator for object position, markerless AR uses GPS, digital compass, or accelerometer embedded within a device to provide data on a specific location. This is the reason why markerless AR is also called location-based or position-based AR. This type of augmented technology is often found on smartphones where they take advantage of their location-based features for a wide array of applications such as mapping, providing directions to specific places, and even games.
Projection Augmented Reality
As the name suggests, projection-based augmented technology relies on projecting artificial light onto real-world surfaces to create various images that can be functional or used to supplement a particular operation. Some projections are able to detect human interaction with the light and are able to produce various results based on how they are programmed, such as a projected keyboard onto a table that can be used for typing. On the other hand, it can also be used as a tool to supplement certain operations, such as projecting veins onto a patient’s arm to make the process of drawing blood much easier. It can also utilize laser plasma technology in order to project 3D imagery mid-air.
Superimposition Augmented Reality
Superimposition-based augmented technology is a next-level application of augmented reality wherein objects can be replaced either partially or fully with a newly-augmented view of the same object. Object recognition is very crucial for this process to work since an application using this form of AR cannot fully function without being able to identify or verify the identity of the object. A very popular application of this type of AR is the IKEA Augmented Reality Furniture Catalog wherein users can scan its pages and superimpose virtual IKEA furniture anywhere inside their home.
Limitations and Developments in Augmented Reality Technology
The advantages of using augmented technology are quite immense and it already has quite an extensive array of applications. However, AR is not perfect and is still currently facing many issues concerning its operation.
One such issue is that three of the four types of AR rely on the usage of smartphones for them to work, which have small screens on which to superimpose information. A fix for this issue has already been developed as some wearable AR technologies have already been released – and many others still in development – that greatly expands the field in which to view AR objects.
AR is also currently facing concerns over privacy. As image-recognition software continues to evolve, when coupled with AR, there might come a time when strangers are able to point a camera at someone’s face and instantly gain information about them from various online sources.
Above all, perhaps the biggest concern over AR is its potential overuse. Something that introduces a layer of fantasy to enhance the mediocrity of someone’s reality has a tendency to become addictive. It can function as games that act as a form of escape from someone’s reality and turn to a world filled with fantasy. This can severely affect someone’s quality of life as they lose track of their own reality and miss out on what’s right in from of them.
Despite the many concerns that surround this piece of technology, its potential applications are too innumerable to pass up. These applications do not only add a layer of fun and fantasy to our lives. It can serve to enrich our lives and help us do tasks that were otherwise too risky and difficult to perform.
Indeed, the future of augmented reality is bright.