Imagine if, at the blink of an eye, you could enter your favorite TV show, or time period in history, or have the capacity to build or create anything at your touch? All your childhood dreams coming to life, and all the alternate universes you’ve ever imagined would be ready and available. Instead of just hearing about cool things, you could actually experience them in real time.
This is our future with Virtual and Augmented Reality.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality is literally just our reality being augmented. This means that the things we hear, and see are altered in real time to basically anything. The possibilities are only as far as your imagination takes you. Currently, AR is typically executed on personal devices like phones, or tablets.
What different things can AR do?
Augmented Reality can generally be categorized into two main types: trigger based, and view based. These also have their own main subsections within them as well: marker based, location based, superimposition based, and general digital augmentation.
When AR programs are triggered by some sort of feature, such as location, or object markers.
These AR programs trigger an augmented reality when a marker is detected. Common markers include papers, codes, etc. QR codes are a common example of a marker based AR program. QR codes are visual codes that can trigger some kind of altered reality or projection.
These AR programs are triggered by the location, GPS, compass, or accelerometers of where you are. When you are at a specific coordinate, the AR projects information based on that location data. Yelp, an app that allows you to review services, has launched an AR feature where you can see the Yelp reviews of the services around you based on the location of where you are.
When AR programs don’t need to be triggered by any feature and can dynamically change how the environment looks.
These AR programs use cameras and sensors to detect certain objects and actively alter them in real time. Snapchat filters are a great example of this because they detect a person’s face, which would be different everytime, but can still alter them all freely depending on the distance from the camera, colors, shapes, and locations.
General Digital Augmentation
These AR programs don’t detect any particular objects or things to alter. They simply need to analyze the spacial location of other objects around the environment and be able to move along with the viewer. Ikea, a furniture company, is currently using AR as a way for customers to see what their furniture could look like if they follow through with their purchase.
How does it work?
The important thing for an Augmented Reality (AR) program to work is for it to be able to detect and understand your current environment around you. In order for it to augment your reality, it must know what your reality is.
This can be done through:
Cameras and sensors
These collect data about the environment around you and try to identify and analyze objects. They analyze objects in your environment by representing colors as numbers, then they can detect what they are, and what to do with them.
S.L.A.M. (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping)
S.L.A.M. is the program that can detect direction and can change the view of something as you move in the environment along with it. When you’re in your reality, you interact with it. Well, S.L.A.M. is how the AR program can interact along with you.
These are sensors that can measure the distance of an object from a device.
They also have to be able to measure speed, angle, direction, orientation of space, etc. through GPS, compasses, CPU, GPU, RAM, flash memories etc. Some may also use miniature mirrors to reflect on eyes to detect the location of your eyes. This helps with image alignment.
Then with these objects located and identified, AR programs can project or replace images or digital information on top of the previous ones.
The Future of AR
To be able to simulate things and change the surroundings around you is such a powerful and helpful tool that can completely change our daily lives. There is a lot of potential for AR in many different aspects of our lives.
For education, there is a lot of potential for field trips, simulations, and experiments.
For gaming, there already is a lot of cool ways to alter reality while gaming. As it becomes more widespread, it will make gaming more interactive for users.
Some new technologies include: AR glasses, AR contact lenses, and special devices specifically for AR. These kinds of tools could begin a new wave of technology that allows us to think of the world in different ways and work our lives smarter instead of harder.