Augmented reality (AR) is the technology that enhances the user’s perception of the real world by integrating digital content into a real-time experience. A classic example of AR is the Pokemon Go game that overlaid Pokemon hopping about in our surroundings. Unlike virtual reality wherein a simulated environment is created artificially using computer technology, AR is only enhancing the user’s view of the real world.
Brief History of Augmented Reality
The history of AR dates back to 1968 when an American computer scientist by the name Ivan Sutherland invented the head mounted display which paved the way for AR that we know today. But way before 1968, Frank Baum in the year 1901 had mentioned about a pair of spectacles analogous to current augmented reality devices in his illustrated novel “Master Key”. Much later in 1974, an American computer artist developed a laboratory called the Videoplace which was referred to as an artificial reality laboratory where he created his own computer systems that could facilitate image recognition, reaction and analysis in real time. This paved way for more advances which could combine graphical images with live video images. All these developments pushed Boeing researcher Tom Caudell to coin the term “augmented reality” in 1990.
In the following decade, AR made its way into the air force, entertainment, naval and NASA research along with new technology advancements. In the 2000’s, the development of ARtoolkit brought AR to web browsers and AR made its debut in an NFL season. Hardware and software advancements in the current decade helped AR to take a leap towards consumer market which is quite evident with the Pokemon Go AR game and Snapchat.
The Future of Augmented Reality
Tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft are betting hugely on AR and are pitted against each other to win the AR battle. Each of them is leaving no stone unturned with their own AR products and apps to stay ahead in the rat race. Below are the reasons supporting this case:
1. Launch of Apple ARKit
Apple entered the fray with the launch of its very own augmented reality platform ARkit for developers in June this year. The augmented reality apps built using ARkit works perfectly with iOS 11.
2. AR Incorporation by Social Media Platforms
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has been pitching in for integration of augmented reality and considers AR as the future of the computing platform. Facebook’s launch of Camera Effects Platform is a step towards integrating AR with social media.
3. Changing the World of Consumer Marketing
AR is helping to create new and immersive customer experiences. Marketing companies are going to leverage the capabilities of AR for effective communication strategy with customers. By overlaying digital data in a 3D format, the customers can experience the products up, close and personal.
4. Growing Number of Users Embracing AR
Most of the online users have embraced AR, as is evident from the significant increase in the shipment of the number of AR devices over the years. The success of Pokemon Go, the AR game that entranced the people all over the world shows that more users will embrace this emerging technology if they find it to be entertaining enough and useful for their day-to-day activities.
5. Increasing Number of AR apps
Many startups and companies are releasing AR integrated apps or are trying to integrate AR into their existing apps to leverage the capabilities of this technology. Below are some of the apps with AR:
Pokémon Go – One of the best AR apps that mesmerized everyone ever since it released. This app uses real locations to encourage players to search far and wide in the real world to discover Pokémon.
Ink Hunter – This app is a boon for tattoo lovers. It helps people to decide on a suitable tattoo and the appropriate part of their body where the tattoo can go before going under the needle. You can check out pre-made tattoos and also create your own tattoo designs using the app.
Amikasa – This app helps you to style your room with an iPhone or iPad. You can walk around any room in your house that you intend to furnish. Place the virtual items to see how they look and to find an ideal place for them. Furniture companies can add their products to the app and customers can buy them through the app. You can also share your augmented furnished rooms with friends over social media or mail for some advice.
Ingress – This app marks the entry of Google into AR game market. The game divides the players into two teams and both the teams battle it out to gain control of virtual territories with the help of a material called Exotic Matter.
Many AR apps are available in the play store, right from multiplayer games and virtual showrooms to interactive maps. These apps make use of your phone’s GPS and camera to create immersive experiences.
This is just the beginning as far as AR is concerned. Though there is penetration of AR in various sectors, the world has only managed to scratch the surface of what AR can do. With the tech giants pitching in for AR, trying to capture the market with new innovations of their own, the time is not very far when the concept of AR will take off universally. But the question is who will succeed in unlocking the huge potential of AR?
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