Mar 11, 2020

What is AR and how has it become a part of our everyday life

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Augmented Reality or AR is a new technology that brings unrealistic 3D objects to our real world. For a person, they become part of the environment, just use a headset. The line between reality and artificially created is simply erased.

We are not talking about the future at all, this is our present. Masks for photos, interactive games, marketing, education, architecture – all this is only a small part of industries that already use augmented reality. Today we will answer all your questions about AR technology.

Some history

Let’s talk about the history of AR. It all started back in 1961, when Morton Heilig, as a cameraman, decided to create a completely new device that immerses a person in a new dimension. So the world saw “Sensorama” — an immersive device similar to an arcade game that vibrated, created air currents and reproduced sounds. A rather bulky device allowed the viewer to ride, for example, on a motorcycle through the streets. Although initially “Sensorama” can be attributed to VR, it gave impetus to the development of both technologies.

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Then, in 1974, the Videoplace “artificial reality laboratory” appeared, on which Myron Krueger worked. It was a whole network of rooms with screens on which a person saw his own silhouette but in different colors and sizes. All this was complemented by a variety of visual elements.

Tom Caudell, an employee at Boeing Computer Services, saw unusual digital displays on the heads of electricians in airplanes. Devices helped them compare details with how they should look. He called it augmented reality. So, in 1990, in Seattle, the first definition that we use now appeared.

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The rise of the technology came in the early 90s. The US Air Force is interested in AR. So, in 1992, the first AR system was introduced, which helped train pilots. At the same time, KARMA was created in Colombia. It was a helmet that showed how to work with the printer and maintain it.

In 1999, the modern AR stage began. Hirokazu Kato has created the ARToolKit library for applications. For her, QR codes were used, which came to life if you point the camera at them.

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Already in 2000, the first mobile AR-game ARQuake was developed. Its author was Bruce Thomas from the laboratory Wearable Computer. A few years later, in 2008, AR became available for every smartphone user. So the first games appeared that were only getting worse so that now we can enjoy the new technology.

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What is the difference between VR and AR?

Augmented reality is often confused with virtual reality, but these are two similar but different technologies. Everything is quite simple: VR is a new 3D space into which a person plunges, while AR just complements our world with 3D objects, a person does not lose touch with reality.

So for VR helmets are used, which give a completely new look at space, overlapping the overview of a real room. For AR, they use a mobile phone camera or smart glasses that superimpose a 3D picture on top of a person’s view.

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Where to use technology?

Marketing and advertising

For brands, augmented reality has become a new interactive tool for sales and direct communication with the client. There are so many advertising campaigns from the most famous world brands that only lazy companies did not make their AR version of the product delivery. Among them are Nesquik, Jaguar Land Rovers, Porsche, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Subway, Cisco, and others.

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Using AR, users can determine if a product is right for them. So applications allow you to try on clothes or shoes before buying, determining the required size with almost no errors. For example, the rather popular IKEA Place application gives users the opportunity to arrange virtual furniture in the interior of their apartment. And the cosmetic company Max Factor offers girls to point the camera at a cosmetic product in order to choose the perfect lipstick tone or watch a tutorial from a makeup artist using this product.

Games

When the heroes of the games come to life right in your room or on the street — this is something amazing. Therefore, one of the most popular areas of AR use is games. There are many options in the store for both children and adults.

One of the most famous gaming applications in the world is Pokémon Go, which was released in 2016. She made millions of users leave the house to find rare Pokemon and feel like a cartoon hero. Pokémon Go has become a real cultural phenomenon and has received over 10 million downloads in its first week.

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Education

AR provides many educational opportunities. With the help of technology, you can clearly demonstrate anything: from the structure of man and animals to processes in chemistry and astronomy. Through testing, the overwhelming success of the technology was revealed. The line between our world and virtual objects is erased. Information submitted in this format is easier to perceive, and study becomes interesting and exciting for people of all ages.

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Lens and masks

We are sure that everyone has already managed to try masks on Instagram. The first application that could easily add cute ears or interesting effects to the photo was Snapchat. Popular lenses have become a trend and now almost every social network has it.

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Healthcare

AR is not just for games. The technology has been successfully used in medicine. It helps to educate students and display information clearly without textbooks and screens. Future doctors train to perform major operations and improve skills and accuracy. Also, AR has become a salvation for deaf and blind people. Help applications have already been developed that inform blind people about what is around them, and for the deaf, they show subtitles.

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Navigation

For example, the Google Maps app requests access to the camera determines the location using GPS, and uses Street View panoramas to increase accuracy. When the location is determined, navigation tips are displayed on the smartphone screen.

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Huge airports are not easy to figure out. For example, American Airlines made a prototype application with AR, which helps people navigate at the airport. You can quickly find the necessary terminal, exit, nearest cafes, and restrooms.

Museums and galleries

If some people read museums are boring, then with augmented reality the situation will change. When you point your smartphone at the exhibit, it comes to life on the screen. The latest technology also gives artists new opportunities to attract attention. For example, the Mexican artist and sculptor Unuan Esparza creates objects of art simultaneously in two realities: ordinary and augmented.

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Real estate

Developing companies can use augmented reality to reduce planning risks since with its help potential buyers can initially see and evaluate the final product. The buyer can see a 3D model of future buildings and the adjacent territory, arrange furniture in the apartment, change the layout. At the same time, using the application, you do not need to spend time on long trips to objects and viewing apartments.

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Military industry

According to analysts, by 2025 the market for AR-systems that will be involved in the military-industrial complex will amount to $ 1.4 billion. The US military is extremely interested in technology and uses it to train and train soldiers, simulating extreme situations. The military is also developing a system for precision shots, which displays the location and gives clues to the soldiers.

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Print media

It would seem that printed matter is losing popularity. But with augmented reality, magazine covers and commercials come to life. Augmented reality is also used in collectible card and board games, where playing fields and cards come to life and characters appear on them.

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How AR is created?

It’s unreal without a powerful technical base. It takes a lot of effort and technology to create 3D models that will be close to real objects. However, this is the only way the user will get a fascinating experience of interacting with virtual objects.

There are many devices for AR, which are divided into two types: optical displays and video displays. These are headsets in which you can insert a smartphone (Google Cardboard, Xiaomi Mi Headset) and smart glasses (HoloLens, Magic Leap and Google Glass).

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What technologies and methods do developers and 3D artists need to create a full-fledged AR scene? To begin with, we determine that augmented reality can be markerless (implemented using algorithms and data collection) and based on markers (QR codes). To determine the position of the display in space, you can use markers, optical sensors, cameras, and the SLAM algorithm. The latter is the most popular method that is used to build a map in an unknown space while monitoring the current location and distance traveled. The algorithm builds a sparse or detailed map of the space. A depth map is also tracked using data from sensors that calculate the distance to objects. As for rendering, 3D models with natural lighting are created thanks to the light estimation and cubic world maps.

Essential components of AR devices:

  • Cameras and sensors. They scan the environment, and with this information, the device finds physical objects and generates 3D models.
  • Processing. AR devices work like a high-tech computer. They have everything from a processor to GPS and memory.
  • Projection. Collect data from sensors and project digital content onto the lenses of the device.
  • Reflection. Some AR devices have mirrors that help human eyes view virtual images. 

To summarize

Now even such giants in the market as Google, Microsoft, and Apple cannot determine the exact vector of development of AR technology, so its potential is unlimited. The technology can be used for a variety of fields, including for your business. Now, augmented reality is a great investment niche because technology does not stand still, and very soon we will find a fascinating world where the real and the virtual connects.