Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality in short AR is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time. It is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.
Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it. The process of superimposing digitally rendered images onto our real-world surroundings, giving a sense of an illusion or virtual reality. Recent developments have made this technology accessible using a smartphone.
Thomas Caudell a Boeing researcher, coined the term augmented reality in 1990, to describe how the head-mounted displays that electricians used when assembling complicated wiring harness worked. Augmented reality is often presented as a kind of futuristic technology, but it's been around in some form for years, one of the first commercial applications of AR technology was the "first down" line that began appearing in televised football games sometime in 1998. Today, Google glass and heads-up displays in car windshields are perhaps the most well-known consumer AR products, but the technology is used in many industries including social media, healthcare, public safety, gas and oil, tourism and marketing. 3D models are directly projected onto physical things or fused together in real-time, various augmented reality apps impact our habits, social life, and the entertainment industry.
How does it work on smartphones?
Using a mobile application, the camera identifies and interprets a marker. The software analyses the marker and performs a number of calculations to do render the image to create a virtual image overlay on the mobile phone's screen. This means the app works with the camera to interpret the angles and distance the mobile phone is away from the marker.
AR applications in smartphones also pinpoint a user's location in the Map. It uses a global positioning system (GPS) and compass to point out the user's location and detect device orientation. Sophisticated AR programs used by the military for training may include machine vision, object recognition, and gesture recognition technologies. Now a day AR implemented in the field of video games (How does it work on smartphones?) like Pokemon Go.
Types of Augmented Reality
Marker-based AR - Some also call it to image recognition, as it requires a special visual object and a camera to scan it. It may be anything, from a printed QR code to special signs. The AR device also calculates the position and orientation of a marker to position the content, in some cases. Thus, a marker initiates digital animations for users to view, and so images in a magazine may turn into 3D models.
Markerless AR - A.k.a. location-based or position-based augmented reality, that utilizes a GPS, a compass, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer to provide data based on user’s location. This data then determines what AR content you find or get in a certain area. With the availability of smartphones this type of AR typically produces maps and directions, nearby businesses info. Applications include events and information, business ads pop-ups, navigation support.
Projection-based AR - Projecting synthetic light to physical surfaces, and in some cases allows to interact with it. These are the holograms we have all seen in sci-fi movies like Star Wars. It detects user interaction with a projection by its alterations.
Superimposition-based AR - Replaces the original view with an augmented, fully or partially. Object recognition plays a key role, without it the whole concept is simply impossible. We’ve all seen the example of superimposed augmented reality in IKEA Catalog app, that allows users to place virtual items of their furniture catalog in their rooms.
The future of augmented reality
Augmented reality is changing the way we view the world or at least the way its users see the world. This doesn't mean that phones and tablets will be the only venue for AR. With augmented-reality displays, which will eventually look much like a normal pair of glasses, informative graphics will appear in your field of view, and audio will coincide with whatever you see. 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.
It is still in development and multiple engineers and tech companies around the world are working to enhance it.