Augmented Reality from A to Z — know your Metas from your Moverios

Andy O'Sullivan
ODG R-7 smart glasses Source with added graphics

Here is a whistle-stop intro to Augmented Reality and the technologies, companies, concepts, and buzzwords you’re likely to encounter if, like me, you’re researching or creating in this exciting field.

** UPDATE! Check out my latest blog all about 2019 tech predictions, including AR: https://medium.com/@LeMarquisOfAndy/the-emperors-new-blockchain-2019-tech-predictions-hopes-d6aab18a0fed **

A

stands for … Augmented Reality! In a nutshell: it’s the placement of virtual objects into the real world, viewable via an AR capable lens, such as an iPhone 8, an AR headset (or “glasses”) like the Microsoft HoloLens, or even a car windscreen. The main difference between AR and Virtual Reality (VR) is that in AR you can also see the real world.

Sometimes alternatively called Mixed Reality.

a

is also for iOS ARKit, Apple’s AR sdk for their iOS platform. I’ve been trying it out a lot recently, and it’s impressive. It allows relatively complex operations using simple functions.

Source

Official documentation can be found here, and a good tutorial from Ray Wenderlich here.

a

is also for Android AR Core. This is basically Google’s answer to ARKit. I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s on the list. Here’s me at Web Summit last year though, standing beside an AR Core generated lion:

bad quality pic but nice lion

The official documentation can be found here. Another tutorial from Ray here.

a

One more A! AR View from Amazon allows you to place virtual versions of their products in your home, before purchasing. More info here.

Source

B

is for Blender, the popular open-source software used to make 3D models, and much more. Something I wish I had more time to learn more about.

Don’t hit Download, it’s a screenshot!

Check out the official site here.

C

is for Collada, a 3D model file format supported by iOS ARKit, with file extension .dae. More info can be found here.

c

is also for C# — used in Unity, one of the main 3D platforms. It also supports “Unity Script”, which is basically JavaScript.

D

is for DAQRI, a relatively mature AR company that makes an AR “helmet”:

along with smaller glasses:

Source

I had a picture of myself wearing one of the helmets, and looking like I’m in Daft Punk, but I can’t find it!

Visit the official page here.

E

is for Epson Moverio smart glasses, like the ones I tried on recently at the Dublin Tech Summit, courtesy of Irish company Utility AR:

You think anyone will notice them?

They don’t look the slickest, but are aimed at industrial use. Check out the official page here.

F

is for the Future. I believe that in time, AR, and AR headsets in particular, will become the dominant user interface. I think they’ll supplant smartphones by offering truly immersive and easy-to-use displays that aren’t constrained to a device’s screen.

G

is for Glassholes. Sorry, I mean Google Glasses ;-) I’m actually trying to get my hands on a pair of the new Enterprise Edition Google Glasses. They were relaunched by Google to focus on Enterprise usage, such as allowing doctors to transcribe notes hands free.

Source

Find the official info here.

g

is also for Games, an obvious use-case for AR. If/when AR headsets become cheaper and more widespread, gaming will undergo a revolution. Imagine Pokemon Go, but without the need to carry a phone in your hand.

H

is for the Microsoft Hololens, the rather impressive AR headset from the makers of Windows, Excel, and other software you may have heard of. Here’s my colleague Stuart Greenlees from the Incubator innovation team in Liberty IT trying them out during a coding lab at Web Summit last year:

I had to show this as well, taken at last year’s ARVR Innovate conference, so this article can’t be accused of favoring Microsoft over Google:

An easy target! Source: Dean Johnson

That pic is probably unfair. The HoloLens is an amazing piece of kit, and right at the cutting edge of AR research and technology. It’s too big and its field of view (the area in which the virtual objects are viewable in front of the user) is too small, but it’s a major step in the right direction.

More info can be found here.

I

is for the iPhone, whose newer models can run ARKit to host AR apps. As more and more newer models are sold, expect more AR apps to be created and used.

i

is also for the Ikea Place app — which utilises AR to allow you to place virtual versions of their furniture in your home, so you can see what they’d look like before you by them. I’ve tried it and it works nicely, especially if you like understated Scandinavian design …

Source

J

is for Job Training. One cool use of AR is to help train staff more immersively. It can also provide remote assistance capabilities. This is where a colleague can see what you’re seeing, if you’re wearing an AR headset.

K

is for Khronos, the not-for-profit organisation which deals with creating open-source standards for 3D models and much more. More info can be found here.

L

is for Law Enforcement — with a commonly discussed use-case, AR glasses for police officers that provide, amongst other features, AR highlighting of suspects using facial recognition.

M

Is for the Meta 2 AR headset, one of the main competitors to the Hololens. I haven’t tried this one yet but I’ve heard anecdotally that it’s good.

Source

Find more info here.

m

is also for Magic Leap — an AR headset company shrouded in mystery and hundreds of millions of investment dollars. They say their Creator edition will be available this year. If it lives up to their considerable hype, it could be a game changer.

Source

Check out more info here.

m

is also for Measuring distances, floor-plans, and so on— a common use case for AR, especially ARKit.

m

Finally, m is also for Machine Learning. AR devices, by their nature, involve video footage. This is ideal for running machine learning models such as facial recognition, activity recognition, and so on, and for displaying the results back via AR.

N

is for Nature. An interesting use-case is using machine learning to recognize trees, plants, flowers, and other objects to display in real-time for the user via AR.

O

is for ODG smart glasses, built to be sturdy enough to use outdoors in hazardous conditions.

ODG R-7 smart glasses Source

Visit the official page here.

P

Is for Portals, a popular use-case for AR, where a freestanding door is shown. You walk through it to enter a virtual scene. Here’s one one I built, using ARKit:

p

also stands for Pokémon Go, probably the most famous and most used AR app.

Q

is for Quotes about AR. Here’s a nice one from one of our favorite CEOs:

I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality, which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently. — Tim Cook (source)

R

is for Remote Assistance — a good use-case for AR. Users of an AR headset with this feature can allow a colleague to remotely see what they see (via a camera in the device), allowing assistance to be provided remotely. Not only can the remote user see the live view, but they can also draw on the view, providing direct information to the AR user.

Source

S

Is for Sumerian, AWS’s new service to create AR and VR. Just testing the water with this one so far. It’s a bit like a scaled down Unity, but available via web browser. Find more info here.

s

is also of course for Snapchat — a major user of AR. All those amazing filters that put rainbows spilling out of your mouth? That’s AR for the masses.

They are also exploring using AR for advertising (which could have been at the top of this post, but the A section was getting pretty full already). Read more here.

s

is also for shameless plug — for my upcoming talk at the 2018 ARVR Innovate conference in Dublin: “Enterprise AR & VR — moving beyond branding apps to create real value”.

Source

More info here!

T

is for Transportation. A good use-case for AR is layering directions, GPS co-ordinates, and other travel info on top of a view of the real world.

U

Stands for Unity, the most popular development platform for 3D apps and games. It comes with plugins to the main AR platforms (ARKit, Vuforia), and at the Dublin Tech Summit, their VP of engineering, Brett Bibby, showed this stat:

If you’re looking for one technology in particular to learn for AR, Unity would probably be a good bet. Visit the official site here.

u

also stands for UploadVR.com, where I got a lot of the use-case ideas for the more obscure letters of the alphabet. Check out this really good article.

V

is for Volumetric Video. This is a new technology that allows real or 3D objects to be viewed in video, via any angle. So imagine watching a movie where you can literally step into the scene and move around for a better look.

Some more info, from Microsoft, can be found here.

v

is also for Vuforia, a widely used AR platform. Get more info here.

W

is for Walls, or more specifically, vertical planes — now detectable using the latest version of ARKit.

X

is for the iPhone X, Apple’s AR ready smartphone. Ok, I struggled to find any other Xs!

Y

is for Yes, I made it to Z!

Z

is for Mark Zuckerberg, who has talked in the past about the potential of AR. Check out more info here.

Please let me know any thoughts or comments below. Feel free to hit the little clap button or you can hit me up on Twitter and LinkedIn. Thanks, Andy

Andy O'Sullivan

Written by

Innovation in Liberty IT | Creator of http://appsandbiscuits.com | Gaeilge | all content my own opinion

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