Augmented Reality, often known as AR, came into limelight last year with the launch of the location-based augmented reality smartphone game Pokemon Go. With tech giants such as Apple stepping into the world of Augmented Reality, it is important to know what this technology is all about.
As explained by its Wikipedia page, ‘Augmented Reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are "augmented" by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called computer mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer.’ In simpler words, Augmented Reality is the integration of digital information with live video or the user’s environment in real time. This is a revolutionary technology which blurs the line between what is real and what is computer generated. By incorporating other senses of the user, especially smell, this is well and truly the case.
The difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (VR) is significant. The former enhances one’s perception of reality whereas the latter actually replaces the world around the user with a simulated one. Using Virtual Reality currently requires the use of bulky headsets with complicated setups. On the other hand, Augmented Reality merely requires a smartphone and, sometimes, a downloadable application. Take the example of Pokemon Go. Open the app and step into the fantasy world of Pokemon Go. It must be kept in mind that Pokemon Go is just the start.
This technology holds immense potential with gaming being its primary application, at the moment. Just imagine hunting ghosts around your neighborhood with your friends! While the technology isn’t exactly new with work having been started on the technology in the early 1990s, it has come to the world’s attention in the last couple of years. The potential uses for Augmented Reality go far beyond gaming. Giants of the apparel world, such as Nike and Gap, are considering the use of Augmented Reality to give customers an insight into what they can expect to buy, while sitting at home. It has huge potential in the world of archaeology, education and medicine. In addition, the US Army started using the technology as far back as 2003.
Very recently, Apple introduced its own augmented reality platform, ARKit. With such giants taking interest in this cutting-edge technology, who knows what the future may hold?