Everything You Need to Know About Augmented Reality

We’ve all heard of virtual reality. But, what is augmented reality?

Augmentation in technology involves interposing technology-simulated audio-visuals onto reality. Advancements in software and application development have allowed us to superimpose graphics, audios, kinesthetic and other features that provide sensory stimulation to real-world events. But what does this mean?

Let’s take video games for example. Pokémon Go is one of the best examples of augmented reality in action. Once you have the game installed in your system, the geolocation option integrates your local surrounding into the theme of the game.

Gamers are notified that Pokémon is located at a particular place which corresponds with a place in the real world, let’s say under the tree on the opposite side of the street. All one has to do is go near the spot, throw the poke ball and catch the Pokémon. The entire system embeds virtual gaming into a real-world location. While the experience is not as immersive as that of virtual reality, users can experience graphics, audios, videos and other sensory information in a reality-based setting.

Developing augmented reality

Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry of MIT have developed a more advanced version of Steve Mann’s gesture-based wearable computer system. They call this machine the “Sixth Sense”. The system takes images of the user’s environment and feeds these images into the user’s phone. It then projects these images onto the wall or any other surface that the device is pointing towards. For example, if you were wearing the device on your head and you picked up a packet of soup to examine it, the camera would take the images of the packet and project it onto the wall opposite where you were standing.

This AR system is also designed to identify complex gesture-based actions. If you were to point the device towards your wrist and draw a circle on your wrist with your finger, the system would show a virtual watch on your hand with the correct time.

This is how AR works. By interposing physical actions or the environment with computer graphics, a quasi-reality experience can be created

The future of augmented reality

So far, AR technology such as Wikitude uses features such as image recognition, 3D rendering of surroundings, geolocation-based tracking and so on to allow users to access basic information about objects. But scientists foresee a much brighter future for AR. Imagine incorporating AR systems into defense technologies or integrating it into medical science. The possibilities are endless.

However, there is also a string of security-related concerns attached to the usage of augmented reality technology. These systems give users access to in-depth information about objects or places. Imagine incorporating them into social media such as Facebook or Instagram. Strangers may point the AR device at you and get instantaneous information about you on social media sites. Without the option of privacy, AR can become extremely dangerous.

While the sky is the limit, it is imperative that both designers and users of augmented reality handle this potent technology with care.