Let us begin with an understanding of what Augmented Reality (AR) is. The popularity of AR is rising consistently due to its ability to bring virtual world into our real world. Augmented reality enhances user’s current perception of reality by augmenting computer-generated images over real world view. Another important feature of AR is to track user’s position and overlay virtual objects in the users’ perception. The definition of AR doesn’t limit it to visual experience, but it also expands into audio. When compared to Virtual Reality (VR), both virtual and real worlds exist together in AR. The users use this kind of experience as a tool and as an assistance mechanism in various activities.
Adaptability: Influencing Technologies
Be it AR or any other forms of human to computer interactions, it’s the advancements in technology that have enabled us. In the case of AR, the following technologies are crucial for its adaptability among humans.
Increased Processing Power of Mobile Devices: The main reasons which are leading to the wider usage of AR are the mobile devices that are becoming much more compact, less expensive and more powerful by the day. Hence, there is no need of buying a new hardware in the case of AR, we need to just have the smart phones which are already owned and used. The smart phones which are coming out are built specifically keeping these new age technologies in mind. Also, both Apple and Google have started manufacturing smart phones with inbuilt ARKit and ARCore tool kit which help third-party developers to create more AR applications.
Natural User Interface: The Natural User Interface (NUI) has evolved from command line interface which involved typing inputs to the era of Graphical User Interface (GUI) which comprises of points, click and type inputs. With the evolution of smart phones, the user interface has further evolved to swipe, touch and sound. AR and VR have accelerated the user interface furthermore with gestures that are replacing touch. Moreover, in the case of technologies like AR and VR, the user interaction needs to incorporate interactions with 3D objects and space.
Context Awareness: In an AR application, there is a perceived interaction between the virtual objects and real-world environment. In order to have this interaction, a system needs to be aware of the real-world environment, determine particular pose associated with the mobile device and finally, a virtual object should be aligned with the coordinate system of the real world. The entire process requires a considerable processing power which will ensure a good user experience to us.
Cloud Computing: One of the main factors for the mass adoption of AR technology is its compatibility with cloud. With the use of cloud in AR technology, it would take it beyond conventional gaming and novelty apps; it will also change the way we organize the information. The cloud serves as a 3D copy of the object and with this, any information you need to know about a place, object or person can be found by itself.
Opportunities in the Field of Augmented Reality
The maturity of AR applications is improving day by day. With these improvements, AR applications are going to be part of our day to day activities, be it in the field of education, architecture, engineering, healthcare and so on.
In case of education industry, AR helps the users to visualize and study concepts rather than just relying on the imagination. This makes studying easy and engaging for the students. AR can also be used at the help desk or reception desk. Currently, an associate sits in these places with a computer, to access the information of the visiting person. But, imagine the associate is sitting with an augmented reality device which helps him to access the previous records and related data of the customer instantly, without having the need to log into the computer. This provides a major benefit to the associate, thereby providing a good experience.
Some other interesting areas where AR is being used are:
- Repair and maintenance of complex equipment like motors, MRI machine and others.
- Assisting professionals in designing architecture and other design activities.
- Helping the associate to display the shortest route within the warehouse, to locate and pick certain items, in business logistics.
- Immersive experience of different tourist places.
- Building deeper relationships with audience through the help of AR games.
In conclusion, most of the AR applications that we are seeing around us are either mediated through smart phones or tablets. But in the coming years, we will see AR applications in windscreen of car, smart glasses that can be used for various industrial applications and in many other areas. We will also be seeing a wider audience using AR for their day-to-day activities, with the advancements in technology.