Augmented Reality is the combination of the real physical world and interactive digital elements such as haptic feedback, sensory projections and visual overlays. Various types of digital elements are added on to the smartphone using advanced technology. This creates an illusion that those holographic elements are part of the real world around you. The sensory information that the computer generates can be either an addition to the real environment or masking of the real environment.
Augmented Reality is different from Virtual Reality. In VR technology, users are immersed completely in an artificial environment that is developed using computer technology. But Augmented Reality changes the user’s surroundings by adding visual 3D objects, graphics, sound and videos to the real world. It actually adds to the reality instead of replacing it. This technology allows the users to virtually try anything on them, such as glasses or visualize how an object will look at a specific place.
AR is now easily accessible to the people worldwide because of the latest developments in this technology and globalization. AR can be best experienced on mobile devices. Even special devices such as smart glasses and head-up displays are good for experiencing Augmented Reality.
Although AR is considered as a futuristic technology, a form of AR has been there for many years. For instance, in the 1990s, the pilot in fighter aircraft would get all the information, such as direction, speed of its plane and altitude.
In the last few years, many companies have developed devices that offer Augmented Reality to users. Fluid Interfaces Group of MIT Media Labs launched SixthSense in 2009. It comprised of a smartphone, a camera, mirror and a projector. In 2013, Google developed Google Glass, which helped people to experience AR through a wearable interface.
However, smartphones and tablets are the devices through which AR gets into most of the people’s lives. For instance, the user can point their phone’s camera at the sky to get information on stars and planets that are superimposed on an image using Star Walk app from Vito Technology. A popular app called Layar displays names of nearby restaurants and stores after collecting information about the surroundings using the phone’s camera and GPS. Pokemon Go, mobile game sensation, is the best example of Augmented Technology. In this game the users have to collect the characters that would pop up virtually in their surroundings.
The phones and tablets are not the only options for Augmented Reality. Research is underway to include AR functionality in wearable devices and contact lenses too. There are many other fields such as real estate, healthcare and retail sector, where AR has been very much beneficial in the recent years.