Augmented Reality

What is augmented reality (AR)?

Augmented reality is the technology that expands our physical world, adding layers of digital information onto it. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), AR does not create the whole artificial environments to replace real with virtual one. AR appears in direct view of an existing environment and adds sounds, videos, graphics to it.

There are 4 types of augmented reality today:

  • markerless AR
  • marker-based AR
  • projection-based AR
  • superimposition-based AR

For AR a certain range of data (images, animations, videos, 3D models) may be used and people will see the result in both natural and synthetic light. Also, users are aware of being in the real world which is advanced by computer vision, unlike in VR.

Photo: https://blog.rackspace.com/the-augmented-reality-cloud-and-the-future-of-information

AR can be displayed on various devices: screens, glasses, handheld devices, mobile phones, head-mounted displays. It involves technologies like S.L.A.M. (simultaneous localization and mapping), depth tracking (briefly, a sensor data calculating the distance to the objects), and the following components:

  • Cameras and sensors: Collecting data about user’s interactions and sending it for processing. Cameras on devices are scanning the surroundings and with this info a device locates physical objects and generates 3D models.
  • Processing:  AR devices eventually should act like little computers, something modern smartphones already do. In the same manner, they require a CPU, a GPU, flash memory, RAM, Bluetooth/WiFi, a GPS, etc. to be able to measure speed, angle, direction, orientation in space, and so on.
  • Projection:  This refers to a miniature projector on AR headsets, which takes data from sensors and projects digital content (result of processing) onto a surface to view. In fact, the use of projections in AR has not been fully invented yet to use it in commercial products or services.
  • Reflection:  Some AR devices have mirrors to assist human eyes to view virtual images. Some have an “array of small curved mirrors” and some have a double-sided mirror to reflect light to a camera and to a user’s eye. The goal of such reflection paths is to perform a proper image alignment.

Photo : https://www.wareable.com/ar/everything-you-need-to-know-about-augmented-reality

  • Marker-based AR: Some also call it image recognition, as it requires a special visual object and a camera to scan it. It may be anything, from a printed QR code to special signs. The AR device also calculates the position and orientation of a marker to position the content, in some cases. Thus, a marker initiates digital animations for users to view, and so images in a magazine may turn into 3D models.
  • Markerless AR: location-based, or position-based augmented reality, that utilizes a GPS, a compass, a gyroscope and an accelerometer to provide data based on user’s location. This data then determines what AR content you find or get in a certain area. With availability of smartphones this type of AR typically produces maps and directions, nearby businesses info. Applications include events and information, business ads pop-ups, navigation support.
  • Projection-based AR: Projecting synthetic light to physical surfaces, and in some cases allows to interact with it. These are the holograms we have all seen in sci-fi movies like Star Wars. It detects user interaction with a projection by its alterations.
  • Superimposition-based AR: Replaces the original view with an augmented, fully or partially. Object recognition plays a key role, without it the whole concept is simply impossible..
  • Gaming

Augmented reality gaming (AR gaming) is the integration of game visual and audio content with the user’s environment in real time. AR games are typically played on devices like smartphones, tablets and portable gaming systems.

The most popular is undoubtedly Pokemon Go, developed by Niantic, which uses uses a smartphone’s camera, gyroscope, clock and GPS and to enable a location-based augmented reality environment. Other popular games include Bee Ready, Domino World, Ingress etc.

  • Military

The US Army in 2003 integrated the SmartCam3D into the Shadow Unmanned Aerial System to aid sensor operators using telescopic cameras to locate people or points of interest. Combining fixed geographic information including street names, points of interest, airports and railroads with live feed form the camera.

  • Music

The use of augmented reality will transform the music industry with new methods used for music production, mixing, control and visualization. A 3D music creation tool allows them to to play dozens of sound samples placed anywhere in 3D space.

AR now also allows users to learn music from the comfort of their home through a ARmony software package.

Some of the projects in the field of Music related to augmented reality include:

ControllAR project allows musicians to augment their MIDI control surfaces with the remixed graphical user interfaces  of music software.

The Rouages project proposes to augment digital musical instruments in order to reveal their mechanisms to the audience and thus improve the perceived liveness.

Photo : http://bevond.com/blog/augmented-reality-music-learners-best-companion/

  • Architecture

Where else could you use AR best but in Architecture to correctly visualise buildings, their layouts and blueprints. Computer-generated images of a structure can be superimposed into a real life local view of a property before the physical building is constructed there. Architecture sight-seeing can be enhanced with AR applications allowing users viewing a building’s exterior to virtually see through its walls, viewing its interior objects and layout.

CityViewAR released by the University of Canterbury enabled city planners and engineers to visualize buildings that had been destroyed. Other examples; AUGMENT, Sun-Seeker

  • Keeping Fit

There are apps such as Seek that can get you on the hunt for treasure, which will have you working up a sweat offering an element of fun at the same time. If you spend time in the gym then it can revolutionise your workouts. There are AR startups like ARX which, using AR glasses, aim to help you make exercising even more interesting, by turning it into a fun and engaging video game

  • Enhancing Your Knowledge

Whether you enjoy visiting museums or exploring new places to broaden your horizons, augmented reality is changing those experiences and helping you to improve your knowledge.Timelooper

  • Improving the Way You Learn

Many of us find that we learn more efficiently when we see things visually and so, augmented reality is encouraging this form of learning.

  • Finding Out More About Your Surroundings

The whole experience of finding out what is around you can be improved through the use of AR. A world where you can find reviews of restaurants, the best deals and even information about buildings  or bus routes in the area you are in can change the way in which you think and the technology is as good as available. This is urban exploration on a technological level but it can open your mind to information on demand, where almost anything is accessible.

  • Seeing It Before Buying It

These days, when we want to buy something, the majority of us begin our search online. This removes our ability to try things out before we purchase but AR is making that possible again. Imagine being able to find out whether a piece of furniture fits before you purchase it by trying it out using augmented reality technology. Large businesses such as IKEA and Target are putting customers in control of what they purchase by making this a possibility for them and that is altering the purchasing power of individuals.

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