The real-time integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. AR technology is useful to superimpose information on the world we see. For example, 3D model, Holograms or images, and sounds are superimposed over what the user sees and hears. Picture the “Minority Report” or “Iron Man” style of interactivity.
Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.
Augmented reality apps are written in special 3D programs that allow the developer to tie animation or contextual digital information in the computer program to an augmented reality “marker” in the real world. When a computing device’s AR app or browser plug-in receives digital information from a known marker, it begins to execute the marker’s code and layer the correct image or images.
Today the AR technology is used in many industries including healthcare, public safety, gas and oil, tourism and marketing.
The future of augmented reality
The ultimate goal of augmented reality is to create a convenient and natural immersion, so there’s a sense that phones and tablets will get replaced, though it isn’t clear what those replacements will be. Even glasses might take on a new form, as “smart glasses” are developed for blind people. Google’s new Tango-enabled phones are equipped with special depth cameras that can scan a room or a street and build an inch-by-inch 3D map.
The AR revolution will come not with a bang but a tape measure. At least, that seems to be the lesson so far from ARKit, Apple’s new augmented-reality platform. It leverages the graphics and processing chips inside existing iPads and iPhones, in addition to motion sensors, to allow developers to create apps like Pokemon Go that supplant digital objects on top of the real world.
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