Augmented reality (AR) augments our physical world by combining it with a layer of digital information. Using an AR application gives you a view of the physical world superimposed with computer-generated 3D objects.
For example, you can use AR to see how a piece of furniture would look in your room before buying it, or to play a game that uses your surroundings as part of the gameplay. AR can also provide additional information about your environment, such as directions, reviews or historical facts.
AR works by using a device, such as a smartphone, tablet or glasses. The device can detect your location, orientation and movement, and overlay relevant digital information on top of the real world. Some AR applications also use machine vision, object recognition and gesture recognition to create more immersive experiences.
AR, just needs a handheld AR-enabled devices (smartphones) or, head-mounted AR glasses. Since you’ll be fully aware of your environment, you won’t need to clear the room to enjoy the experience. Since AR requires less equipment and fewer safety precautions, it’s also more accessible.
Types of AR based Applications:
This is an overview of the common types of augmented reality applications to consider:
- Marker-based AR: Marker-based AR, based on Image Recognition, detects an object (a “marker”) in front of the device camera and provides information about the object on the screen. When a device detects that marker, the app replaces the marker on the screen with a 3D object. Then the user can view the object like in real world, from different angles.
- Markerless AR: Markerless AR doesn’t need to be triggered by a specific object in the real world. Instead, the user can place a virtual object anywhere on vertical or horizontal planes. You can easily manipulate (rotate, move…) the object.
- Location-based AR: Location-based AR is a type of markerless AR that uses geographic location to display digital content at specific locations. Pokemon Go is an example of location-based AR.
- Projection-based AR: Projection-based AR involves projecting synthetic light onto physical surfaces. This allows users to view AR content with their naked eyes without needing any external devices. Common examples include the holograms.
Where Augmented Reality is used:
AR can be applied into different industries and domains. Here are some of them:
1-Furniture: AR furniture apps like IKEA Place that allow customers to virtually see how furniture would look in their homes before buying it. The app uses marker-based AR, which uses a physical marker (the catalog) to trigger the digital content. The user can also snap a picture of the furniture in the room.
2-Out of home advertising: AR out of home advertising campaigns that use large screens or billboards to display immersive and interactive content to the public. For example, Pepsi used a bus shelter screen in London to show realistic scenes of aliens, tigers and robots invading the street.
3-Healthcare: AR healthcare applications that can assist physicians, surgeons, nurses and patients in various ways. For example, AR can be used to visualize CT and MRI scans during interventional procedures, to guide needle placement, to display vital signs or patient information, to provide training or education, or to enhance patient engagement and satisfaction.
4-Education: AR education applications that can enhance learning outcomes and engagement for students of all ages and levels. For example, AR can be used to create interactive textbooks, to display 3D models of objects or concepts, to provide simulations or experiments, or to enable remote collaboration.
5-Entertainment: AR entertainment applications that can provide fun and immersive experiences for users. For example, AR can be used to create games that use the real environment as part of the gameplay, such as Pokemon Go, to create filters or effects that modify the user’s appearance or voice, such as Snapchat or Instagram, to create stories or animations that interact with the user’s surroundings, such as Wonderscope.
6-E-commerce: AR e-commerce applications that can help customers make better purchasing decisions and increase conversions for businesses. For example, AR can be used to let customers try on clothes, accessories, makeup or glasses virtually, such as Warby Parker’s virtual try-on app, or to let customers preview how products would look in their homes or spaces, such as Amazon’s AR View or Wayfair.
7-Tourism: AR tourism applications that can enhance the travel experience and provide useful information for tourists. For example, AR can be used to display historical facts, cultural insights, directions or reviews about landmarks or attractions, to create immersive tours or guides that showcase the past or present of a location, or to create interactive games or challenges that encourage exploration and discovery.
8-Business cards: AR business cards that can display more information than a traditional card, such as a personal portfolio site or a voice-over. The user can scan the card with their smartphone and see the digital content overlaid on the card.
These are just some of the examples of AR applications in different industries. There are many more possibilities and use cases for AR technology that are being developed and explored every day.
If we take IKEA Place as an example. it’s is an AR app that allows customers to virtually see how furniture would look in their homes before buying it.
To use IKEA Place, you need a smartphone with a camera and the IKEA Place app installed. You need a physical marker, such as the IKEA catalog or any flat surface.
To start using IKEA Place, you need to open the app and scan your surrounding area with your camera. The app will then display a list of furniture items that you can choose from.
To place a furniture item in your room, you need to tap on it and drag it to the desired location. You can also rotate and move the item to adjust it to your space.
IKEA Place also uses realistic 3D models and lighting effects to make the furniture look as natural as possible in your room. You can also snap a picture of the furniture in your room and share it with others.
IKEA Place is one of the many AR apps that can help customers make better purchasing decisions and increase conversions for businesses by combining the real world and digital content.
How Augmented Reality is impacting our lives:
AR is impacting our lives in various ways, such as:
1-Enhancing learning and education: AR can provide interactive and immersive experiences that can improve learning outcomes and engagement for students of all ages and levels. AR can also enable remote collaboration and access to educational resources that may not be available otherwise.
2-Improving work and productivity: AR can help workers perform tasks more efficiently and effectively by providing relevant information, guidance and feedback in real time. AR can also facilitate virtual meetings and communication that can reduce travel costs and environmental impact.
3-Enriching entertainment and social interaction: AR can provide fun and creative experiences that can enhance our enjoyment and connection with others. AR can also allow us to customize and transform our surroundings according to our preferences and moods.
These are some of the ways that augmented reality is impacting our lives. However, there are also some challenges and limitations that need to be addressed, such as technical issues, ethical concerns, privacy risks, social norms and user acceptance.
Challenges and limitations of Augmented Reality
Some of the challenges and limitations of AR are:
1-Cost: Implementing AR technology can be expensive, depending on the type and quality of the devices, software and content. Customizing and maintaining AR solutions can also require significant financial resources and expertise.
2-User adoption: AR technology is still relatively new and unfamiliar to many users, who may not have access to or interest in using AR devices or apps. User adoption can also be influenced by factors such as usability, functionality, design, privacy and security.
3-Technical limitations: AR technology still faces some technical challenges, such as latency, accuracy, resolution, battery life, connectivity and compatibility. These challenges can affect the performance and quality of the AR experience and cause frustration or discomfort for the users.
4-Content availability: AR technology requires a lot of content to create immersive and realistic experiences for the users. However, creating and updating AR content can be time-consuming and complex, requiring specialized skills and tools. There may also be a lack of standards or guidelines for AR content creation and distribution.
These are some of the challenges and limitations of AR that need to be addressed before AR technology can become more widespread and beneficial for various domains and purposes.
Final thought about Augmented Reality and its future adoption
I think that augmented reality is a very promising and exciting technology because it can create immersive and interactive experiences that can enhance our learning, work, entertainment and social interaction. For example, AR can help us visualize complex data, access relevant information, collaborate with others, create personalized content, and also have fun and creative experiences. I think that AR technology can also open up new possibilities and opportunities for various domains and purposes, such as education, healthcare, tourism, e-commerce, marketing and more. For example, AR can help us access educational resources that may not be available otherwise, provide medical assistance or guidance, explore new places or cultures, make better purchasing decisions, and engage with brands or products.
I hope that AR technology will enhance our lives and not replace them. I hope that users will use AR technology wisely and moderately, and that developers will design AR technology with user needs and values in mind.