The augmented reality is one of the technologies present and future. Its applications are increasingly widespread in any sector and more and more companies are betting on it.
However, for many, it is still a great unknown. What does augmented reality consist of? What are its possible applications? How is it different from virtual reality? Discover the answer to these and many other questions in this article.
What Is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is that technology that allows additional information to be added to a real-world image when it is viewed through a device. This device adds extra information to what the real image already offers, thus offering a transformed reality.
This reality combines physical elements with virtual ones. The virtual image complements the real one to provide more information. For this to happen, it is necessary to use a device that is compatible with augmented reality technologies.
Later we will go deeper into the characteristics of augmented reality. At the moment it is enough to know three basic principles on how it works: it combines real and virtual image, it happens in real-time and it is projected as a 3D image.
For example, imagine that you are walking down the street and focus on your mobile phone on a window. By doing so, not only the image of the clothing is projected on the device’s screen, but much more information: price, available colours, sizes or previews of other brand clothing. Well, that’s augmented reality.
Origin & History Of Augmented Reality
Although everything suggests that it is a very recent technology, the truth is that the history of augmented reality dates back more than 100 years.
In 1901, Frank L. Baum designed an apparatus called Character Maker that could already be considered a prototype of what is now the RA. This device consisted of a large electronic viewfinder that allowed information to be superimposed on the people they were targeting.
More than half a century later, Morton Hellig, a well-known filmmaker and inventor, built a device called the Sensorama. This prodigy simulated a real 3D projected experience and included other effects such as the effect of the wind, vibrations in the seat or surround sound. Hellig’s invention took users on a walk through San Francisco through raw footage but adding elements that made the experience more immersive.
However, it was not until the 1990s that the term “augmented reality” was coined. The name was the brainchild of Boeing engineer Tom Caudell, who was inspired by the gadgets that engineers used to repair aircraft circuits.
Caudell invented the name, but the first augmented reality system itself was created by the technologist Louis Rosenberg, in 1992. It was a system called Virtual Fixtures, which projected robotic arms on the user that acted as a guide for performing certain tasks.
The next step was taken at Columbia University. It was there that a small team of scientists developed a system called KARMA. This device consisted of an HMD ( head-mounted display or virtual reality headset) that projected a three-dimensional image that instructed users to use a printer. Thanks to this method, the user manual could be eliminated.
From those times until today, small steps have been taken that have brought us to the current point: the moment when augmented reality is about to become a habitual technology in our lives.
Characteristics Of Augmented Reality
The main characteristics of augmented reality are the following:
- It is a technology that superimposes virtual elements on the real image.
- It allows interacting with it in real-time. The actions carried out by the user have a direct consequence on the recreation of the reality that is displayed.
- The image is projected in 3D so that it seems to acquire the physical capacities or proportions of the environment.
- It is related to the context, that is, the information that appears on the device has to do with what we see with our own eyes.
Types Of Augmented Reality Depending On The Objective
There are different types of augmented reality. Classifications are usually made based on the objective or the technology used. In relation to its objective, one can speak of augmented reality in images, spaces or places.
Augmented reality can be projected onto the image of any object in the real world. Years ago markers were used that worked similarly to a barcode or a QR code. However, today many other elements can be used as bookmarks, such as the company logo, business cards, tourist brochures, clothing labels or any other element.
Currently, there are devices that allow you to recognize the dimensions, design and arrangement of elements in any room to superimpose virtual images on them. It is something that is used more and more, for example, in real estate or in furniture stores, so that the user knows how a specific piece of furniture would look in their room before buying it.
Thanks to digital compasses or GPS locators, the coordinates of a specific geographic location can be known to superimpose virtual images on the real terrain. The maps are replaced by a real and interactive image with virtual information of interest.
The technology of augmented reality in tourism as well as in a multitude of sectors, such as the prospecting of works or the sale and rental of real estate, acquires great utility in them.
Advantages Of Augmented Reality
The benefits of augmented reality can be summarized as follows:
- It is a technology that can be applied to a large number of sectors: commerce, leisure, health, education, tourism, etc.
- Facilitates training, thanks to much more versatile and attractive learning.
- It provides a large amount of information, which is also accessible to anyone and located.
- Optimize tasks and minimize costs.
- It allows developing marketing campaigns based on experience.
- It offers an immersive experience, which favours user identification.
- Increase business and retail sales thanks to its powerful impact.
- It makes a difference compared to the competition, more now that it is not yet technology in widespread use.
- It is a technology of the future that gives cutting edge image and innovation.
Disadvantages Of Augmented Reality
Not everything is going to be advantages. Here we show you some of the drawbacks of augmented reality :
- High implementation costs
- Collecting the virtual information that is offered requires time and effort.
- Expert subject matter professionals are required to develop the applications.
- In some cases, it is required to have devices with high speed and processing capacity.
- You run the risk of focusing on technology and forgetting about the customer. Relationships are becoming more superficial and virtual than personal.
- There is still a great lack of knowledge of this technology by a significant part of the population.