Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. 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 is the technology that expands our physical world, adding layers of digital information onto it. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), AR does not create the whole artificial environments to replace real with a virtual one. AR appears in direct view of an existing environment and adds sounds, videos, and graphics to it. 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.

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 healthcare, public safety, gas and oil, tourism and marketing. 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.

Augmented Reality applications for smart-phones typically include global positioning system (GPS) to point-out the user’s location and its compass to detect device orientation. The Sophisticated AR programs used by Military for training, it include machine vision, object recognition and gesture recognition technologies. There are a lot of political and ethical issues while using this technology.

Working of Augmented Reality:

For AR a certain range of data like images, animations, videos, 3D models etc. may be used and people will see the result in both natural and synthetic light. AR can be displayed on various devices: screens, glasses, handheld devices, mobile phones, head-mounted displays. It involves technologies like Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (S.L.A.M), depth tracking, and the following components:

Sensors & Cameras: It will collect data about user’s interactions and sending it for processing. Cameras on devices are scanning the surroundings and with this info, a device locates physical objects and generates 3D models. For example, Microsoft Hololens, or common smart-phone cameras to take pictures/videos.

AR Processing: AR devices should act like little computers, like modern smart-phones already do. They require a CPU, a GPU, flash memory, RAM, Bluetooth/WiFi, a GPS, etc. Is able to measure speed, angle, direction, orientation in space, and so on.

Projection of AR: It has a miniature projector on AR headsets, which takes data from sensors and projects digital content onto a surface to view. The use of projections in AR has not been fully invented yet to use it in commercial products or services.

Reflection of AR: There are some AR devices have mirrors to assist human eyes to view virtual images. Some have a double-sided mirror to reflect light to a camera and to a user’s eye. Goal of such reflections are to perform a proper image alignment.

There are 4 types of augmented reality today:

  • 1. Marker-based AR
  • 2. Marker-less AR
  • 3. Projection-based AR
  • 4. Superimposition-based AR

Marker-based AR: Also called it to image recognition, as it requires a special visual object and a camera to scan it like from a printed QR code to special signs etc. The AR device also calculates the position and orientation of a marker to position the content. Marker initiates digital animations for users to view and may turn into 3D models.

Marker-less AR: 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. The data determines what AR content people find or get in a certain area. By using smart-phones, it produces maps and directions, nearby businesses info. Applications include events and information, business ads pop-ups, navigation support etc.

Projection-based AR: Projecting artificial light to physical surfaces and it allows interacting with it. These are the kind of holograms. It detects user interaction with a projection by its alterations.

Superimposition-based AR : It replaces the original view with an augmented reality. For example, `IKEA Catalog app’, that allows users to place virtual items of their furniture catalog in their rooms.

Augmented Reality Vs. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality means computer-generated environments for you to interact with, and be immersed in. Augmented reality will adds to the reality people would ordinarily see rather than replacing it.

Types of Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality devices: Many modern devices already support augmented reality. For example, Google Glass or handheld devices. For processing and projection, AR devices and hardware have requirements such as sensors, cameras, accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass, GPS, CPU, displays, and things we’ve already mentioned.

Categories of Augmented Reality:

Smart-phones and Tablets: Most available and best fit for AR mobile apps, pure gaming and entertainment to business analytics, sports, and social networking.

Special AR devices: These are designed primarily for augmented reality experiences. For example, head-up displays (HUD), sending data to a transparent display directly into user’s view. To train military fighters, pilots etc. Some applications are in aviation, automotive industry, manufacturing, sports, etc.

Smart Glasses: Google Glasses is a perfect example of these category AR applications. These are capable of displaying notifications from your smart-phone, assisting assembly line workers, access in hands-free, etc.

Smart Lenses: Manufacturers like Samsung and Sony have announced the development of AR lenses. Samsung is working on lenses as the accessory to smart-phones, while Sony is designing lenses as separate AR devices, with features like taking photos or storing data.

Virtual retinal displays (VRD): It creates images by projecting laser light into the human eye. It aiming at bright, high contrast and high-resolution images, these systems remain to be made for a practical use.

Future Of Augmented Reality:

  • 1. Contact lenses and other wearable devices
  • 2. To create a convenient and natural immersion
  • 3. Phones and tablets will get replaced
  • 4. “Smart Glasses” are developed for blind people.