Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the biggest technology trends right now, and it’s only going to get bigger as AR ready smartphones and other devices become more accessible around the world. AR let us see the real-life environment right in front of us—trees swaying in the park, dogs chasing balls, kids playing soccer—with a digital augmentation overlaid on it. For example, a pterodactyl might be seen landing in the trees, the dogs could be mingling with their cartoon counterparts, and the kids could be seen kicking past an alien spacecraft on their way to score a goal.
With advances in AR technology, these examples are not that different from what might already be available for your smartphone. Augmented reality is, in fact, readily available and being used in a myriad of ways including Snapchat lenses, in apps that help you find your car in a crowded parking lot, and in a variety of shopping apps that let you try on clothes without even leaving home.
Augmented Reality can also be found in:
- Enhanced navigation systems use augmented reality to superimpose a route over the live view of the road.
- During football games, broadcasters use AR to draw lines on the field to illustrate and analyze plays.
- Furniture and housewares giant IKEA offers an AR app (called IKEA Place) that lets you see how a piece of furniture will look and fit in your space.
- Military fighter pilots see an AR projection of their altitude, speed, and other data on their helmet visor, which means they don’t need to waste focus by glancing down to see them.
- Neurosurgeons sometimes use an AR projection of a 3-D brain to aid them in surgeries.
- At historical sites like Pompeii in Italy, AR can project views of ancient civilizations over today’s ruins, bringing the past to life.
- Ground crew at Singapore’s airport wear AR glasses to see information about cargo containers, speeding up loading times
Augmented reality devices
Many modern devices already support Augmented reality. From smartphones and tablets to gadgets like Google Glass or handheld devices, and these technologies continue to evolve. For processing and projection, AR devices and hardware, first of all, have requirements such as sensors, cameras, accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass, GPS, CPU, displays, and things we’ve already mentioned.
Devices suitable for Augmented reality fall into the following categories:
- Mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) – the most available and best fit for AR mobile apps, ranging from pure gaming and entertainment to business analytics, sports, and social networking.
- Special AR devices, designed primarily and solely for augmented reality experiences. One example is head-up displays (HUD), sending data to a transparent display directly into the user’s view. Originally introduced to train military fighters pilots, now such devices have applications in aviation, automotive industry, manufacturing, sports, etc.
- AR glasses (or smart glasses) – Google Glasses, Meta 2 Glasses, Laster See-Thru, Laforge AR eyewear, etc. These units are capable of displaying notifications from your smartphone, assisting assembly line workers, access content hands-free, etc.
- AR contact lenses (or smart lenses), taking Augmented Reality one step even farther. Manufacturers like Samsung and Sony have announced the development of AR lenses. Respectively, Samsung is working on lenses as the accessory to smartphones, while Sony is designing lenses as separate AR devices (with features like taking photos or storing data).
- Virtual retinal displays (VRD), creating images by projecting laser light into the human eye. Aiming at bright, high contrast and high-resolution images, such systems yet remain to be made for practical use.