A New Experience: Augmented Reality

Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced a time when we are reading a long description but are not really absorbing any of the information. But what if there was a different way to consume the same information much easier and faster? Yup, with Augmented Reality you would be able to receive this information simply by pointing your phone at it.

Augmented Reality (AR) is an enhanced or altered form of reality where content gets added to users’ real-world views. Those Snapchat filters? Yeah, that’s Augmented Reality. Pokemon Go? Totally Augmented Reality.

Applications of AR Right Now

AR is nothing new to many of us as it’s already being used for many different purposes in many different industries like Transportation, Healthcare, and Retail. Regardless, there is still so much more that can be done and impacted through the technology as it is continuously growing.

Transportation

If your a non-frequent flier like myself then you probably don’t look for much in airlines. Augmented reality is not only helping with many of the basics things requested by fliers like quality food, in-flight movies, etc. but also for pilots who arrive them safely to their destination. Companies like Aero Glass have created augmented reality headsets that display airports, cities, navigation points, terrain features, other aircraft, and landing approaches for pilots. These features help pilots operate their planes, even when clouds or fog reduce visibility, which keeps flights safe and on time.

However, if your like the average Canadian, you most likely are spending around 240 hrs per year driving each year. Tools like WayRay’s Navion are changing the way we drive by projecting navigation instructions onto the windshield of the car. These kinds of AR integrations also have the potential of making roads safer as Navion also introduces gesture control commands to prevent drivers from looking down at their phones to enter a route.

Retail

Many shops have integrated AR into their stores or buying process. This is because according to Shopify, 61% of consumers prefer stores that offer AR experiences — and 40% of them would pay more for your product if they have the chance to experience it through AR. While augmented reality can’t style your entire house for you, it can help you decide which furniture might look the best in your living room. For example: IKEA’s new “IKEA Place” app allows customers to preview over 2,000 pieces of virtual furniture in actual rooms within their home. Many architects and engineers who design these products are also using augmented reality to sample building materials, finishes, and layouts before committing to a direction.

Another great example of this is Sephora’s Virtual Artist app, which allows users to try a variety of eye, lip, and cheek makeup by digitally adding it to an uploaded photo rather then having to visit the store. These applications help to remove barriers for consumers and help provide a clear path to purchase.

Healthcare

Various Institutions are using AR to help teach and let medical students and doctors practice medical procedures. AR is also helping some patients with their recovery process. One company, called NuEyes, uses special AR glasses to help people with severe vision impairment. Although nothing like sight, the technology can help legally blind children see well enough to read and recognize their classmates.

There are also many other implications which help enhance and make current medical operation more accurate and efficient. Companies like google have implemented AR in things like Google Glass. In an article published on Forbes.com, J.C. Hewitt said Glass can show incoming notifications to physicians of patient conditions and could enhance the vision and perception of doctors and dentists. On top of that, it’s a vast time-saver, with physicians eliminating up to two hours of writing down their notes at the end of the day. It allows for more accuracy, because the notes are taken in real time.

How AR Works — Basics

Cameras and Sensors

In order for augmented reality to work properly, various sensors and cameras help to gather information on the users’ actual surroundings. If you use a Smartphone application, then the system would simply use your phone’s built-in camera, while more complicated devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens use a variety of specialized built-in cameras. In general, AR experiences can vary and work better with cameras that can read images in 3D and capture more in depth information which allows for more realistic experiences.

IPhone X TrueDepth Camera

Processing

Augmented reality also requires enough processing power so that they are able to analyze inputs like acceleration, position, tilt, and depth in real-time to create immersive interactions. Fortunately for us, after years of experimentation, this is something our smartphones are now capable of doing without any additional hardware. As AR becomes more advanced, more devices will continue to incorporate the impressive technology.

Projection

After capturing real-world information, the augmented reality device then uses projection to layer digital renderings or the digital content onto the scene. Currently, the projections can be easily displayed onto a smartphone screen or multiple screens within a wearable device.

The Future of AR

Augmented reality technology has a lot more to offer to industries other than entertainment. It not only is impacting industries like healthcare, tourism, retail already but will continue to grow and advance!

It is predicted that by 2025 the healthcare revenue from augmented reality will be around $5 billion and some technology insiders expect to see the most advancements of AR technology in the healthcare industry. The travel industry also has a lot to gain from the AR boom as 84% of consumers all over the world would be interested in using AR as part of their travel experiences and 42% believe that AR is the future of tourism.

The Takeaway

AR or Augmented Reality has gone from pipe dream to reality in just over a century. There are many AR applications in use and even under development today, however — the concept will only take off in the next couple of years.

There truly is an unlimited potential for AR.

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I’m a developer & innovator who enjoys building products and researching ways we can use AI, Blockchain & robotics to solve problems in healthcare and energy!

I’m a developer & innovator who enjoys building products and researching ways we can use AI, Blockchain & robotics to solve problems in healthcare and energy!