Augmented Reality is an invention that presents possibilities that other technologies do not provide. It alters the way people see the world, and almost every industry uses the technology. Nowadays, augmented reality apps are portable and available in mobile phones, computers, and other devices. Its usage in the audio-visual is also increasing, which makes the viewer’s experience more exciting. Companies use the technology in the news, sporting activities, advertisement, and design. Moreover, AR facilitates learning in many ways. For instance, it allows learners to retrieve location-specific data available via different sources (Alkhamisi & Monowar, 2013).
History of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) first surfaced in 1968 when Ivan Sutherland, a computer science professional, made an augmented reality display system. From that point, institutions embarked on studies to advance the technology for wearable gadgets as well as digital displays. The initial AR systems overlaid virtual data on the physical surroundings, and permitted simulations. The simulations availed new capabilities in the aviation industry, military and several other areas (Javornik, 2016).
In 1974, Myron Krueger created a simulated reality workshop named video-place. The studio used a projector, video cameras, and specialized hardware to create televised shapes surrounding viewers in an interactive setting. Researchers first used the term augmented reality in 1990. Tom Caudel (the inventor of the name) and his colleagues suggested that employees working on the aircraft wiring put on gadgets that would display aircraft schematics onto reusable screens. In the following years, AR became widespread, and its applications increased. In 1992, computer scientists created virtual fixtures that the US Air Force used to train pilots. Many other inventions followed that demonstrated creative application of AR, and the advancements continue to date (Igreet, 2015).
Commercial use of augmented reality started in 2008 when companies began using it for advertisement. A German agency created an in print magazine advertisement of a car, which when placed in front of a laptop camera, it appeared on display. Markers connecting the real ad to the virtual image allowed users to control the image on the screen and maneuver it to view it from diverse positions. The design is one of the initial applications of augmented reality (Javornik, 2016).
Other companies are also using this concept that allows users to interact with objects via physical tracking markers. For instance in 2011, National Geographic displayed extinct species of various organisms as if they are walking along a path. Likewise, Coca-cola employed the idea to simulate environmental issues like melting of polar ice. Disney also uses the technology. In 2011, the organization displayed cartoons interacting with people in real time (Javornik, 2016).
All the above examples demonstrate the use of AR to engage clients in public spaces. However, the AR displays are not always scalable as the process may require a lot of money. However, this does not inhibit companies from using it. For example, Skoda used the technology in 2015 where it placed an augmented reality mirror in a railway station. The application allowed customers to adjust a car and view themselves driving on a big display (Jarvonik, 2016).
The concept of Augmented Reality
AR makes use of existing reality and tangible objects to produce computer-generated augmentations over the user perception of reality in real time. The images are generally in 3D models and audio-visuals. The image created relies on the form of experience and the hardware you are using. For instance, you can use a smartphone where the things that you see via the camera appear with some digital enhancements. You can use it to guide someone around different locations using virtual signposts. You can also use it in art galleries to produce information on artwork as you view them through the phone. Apart from the smartphone, you can use devices like Microsoft Hololens which combines the real world and the computer-generated features (Harris, 2017).
AR works together with digital gadgets like tablets, and computers. Each AR device has a special-purpose software, a sensor, as well as a projector that prompts digital images on the physical environment. It is possible to create and use the technology in several different forms. For instance, Google glass produces 2D images, while Microsoft Hololens entrench 3D effects into the surrounding. The augmented reality employs a camera in scanning mode. Some AR applications will require that you scan different objects in a room to create several images and corners. When the camera senses a triggering object from the collection of images, a digital image display will appear at the location of the object (Harris, 2017).
Hardware/software requirements of AR
Projector- the AR devices requires some form of projection. The projector helps in turning different surfaces into interactive environments. The AR gadget processes the information captured using the camera, after which it projects it on to a surface. Therefore, you do not need the screen of your smartphone to achieve this. In the future, you may not need a smartphone to play online games as you can play them on top of a table (Reality Technologies, 2013).
Processors- the AR gadgets must have the processing capabilities. The devices work like small supercomputers. The manufacturers put the tools in wearable gadgets to make them easy to use. The devices have a central processing unit, a RAM, GPS capabilities, Wi-Fi, among several other components. The devices also have features that allow them to measure speed, tilt as well as direction (Reality Technologies, 2013).
Sensors/cameras- the augmented reality gadgets have external sensors. The sensors collect the interactions in the handler’s real world and input them into the device for processing and interpretation. The devices also have cameras that visually capture data about the user’s environment (Reality Technologies, 2013).
Reflectors- The reflection enhances the way you view the virtual object. The mirrors may be of different forms such as curved mirrors, double-sided mirrors, among others (Reality Technologies, 2013).
Existing products using AR technology
Google Translate App
The app has a word lens that scans text in different languages using a camera and translates them into English. An augmented reality gadget then superimposes the converted information on a real-time video where you can read it. Some of the features of the applications need an internet connection, while others can work offline. You need to have an iPad or an iPhone to use the app (Zibreg, 2017).
Snapchat filter App
The Snapchat filter allows users to swap faces in real time (using AR technology). Users can also create other shapes such as animated rainbows falling out of their mouths and ghost faces with a dog’s nose. The application use sensors and cameras with face detection capabilities and this make it possible to swap faces. Users need a computer, a tablet or a smartphone to enjoy the features of this application. The application also requires an internet connection to work efficiently (Arcangel, 2018).
Instagram filters use the same concept as that of snapchat filters. The filters allow one to place crowns on their photos or features that make one appear like a koala or a rabbit. You can also send math equations rotating around your head, and all this happens in real time. The application needs a smartphone with a back or front camera, in addition to an internet connection. Facebook is continually adding new features to the filters; therefore, you will be able to do more in the future (Kane, 2017).
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