Understanding Augmented Reality

The release of Pokémon Go in 2016 brought the childhood desires of most people into existence. Being able to do, what we could only dream of, was an aspect of pure excitement. But the crucial factor behind all of it was the incorporation of Augmented Reality.
Yes, Augmented Reality, in short AR, is what allows us to feel the existence of those adorable creatures in our own world.

Augmented Reality, in layman terms, is changing the way we view our world. “Augment” – the word itself helps to explain this technology. Basically, we enhance our viewpoint regarding the various aspects of our environment.

  • Let’s say, augmented reality displays, that simply appears as a normal pair of glasses, shall provide us with a variety of information being displayed on it, as we walk around the roads. We might gain new knowledge even though we have known our localities for years.
  • On a technical perspective, Augmented Reality is a way of fusing the real and the virtual world by overlaying digital data on the real world analogue views.

Most of us can relate to virtual reality, but we should understand that augmented reality is somewhat different to it. Virtual reality is a simulation, an immersive, computer-generated world that personifies the world we live in. In fact, we might say, it replaces the real thing.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, makes use of the real world itself, superimposing artificial graphics over it, so as to “supplement” us with more information. On the spectrum between virtual reality and the real world, augmented reality is closer to the real world.
Examples of usage of Augmented reality:

  • Scanning a QR code using your phone’s camera provides additional information (so, AR) on your screen.
  • Google Glass and other head-up displays (HUD) like Vuzix Waveguide Lens put Augmented Reality directly into the glasses. These glasses could be used as reminders for patients undergoing medication. Real time battlefield data could be available to soldiers wearing these.
  • We are also familiar with the various filters on Snapchat and Instagram, an aspect of AR.
  • In the Netherlands, an application called Layar is available for download, which uses the phone’s camera and GPS capabilities to gather information about our surroundings. We could point at a building and enquire about its history, whether it’s on sale and more.
  • AR Defender 2 is a mobile game for iOS users that helps you attain amazing experience, by turning any real world area into a virtual battlefield. Niantic has already achieved a lot by developing Ingress and Pokémon Go.
  • Apps like Augment, is helpful for designers, that allows users to upload 3D models and visualize them in a physical space.

The above mentioned points do not necessarily cover the vast scope of this fast developing technology and are just few examples.

AR still faces certain difficulties. For example, GPS is only accurate to about 30 feet (9 meters) and doesn’t work well indoors. People may not be willing to rely on their small smartphones to provide superimposed information at all times. There also exist such things as too much information. Privacy concerns, especially social networking profiles are also a hindrance.
All these could be improved upon in the future, and AR could gradually find its way to several other areas of our daily lives.

References:

  • http://computer.howstuffworks.com/augmented-reality.htm
  • https://www.vrs.org.uk/augmented-reality/how-it-works.html

This article is contributed by Nihar Ranjan Sarkar. If you like GeeksforGeeks and would like to contribute, you can also write an article using contribute.geeksforgeeks.org or mail your article to contribute@geeksforgeeks.org. See your article appearing on the GeeksforGeeks main page and help other Geeks.

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