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Augmented Reality: Combining the Virtual & Real World Into One

Posted September 1, 2017

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Science fiction does more than just predict the future through the portrayal of potential inventions; it influences modern scientists and innovators in the creations that they make. In the cartoon series The Jetsons, you could see flying cars everywhere. While flying cars aren’t viable at this time, they’re becoming more realistic as time passes.

So what’s the next big thing? With so many new technologies popping up, it’s hard to pinpoint it to just one development. The closest we could get to addressing the next big technological advance in modern society is augmented reality app development. Already a common feature depicted in a wide range of science-fiction movies and stories like the Terminator and Star Trek, augmented reality has since made huge leaps in advancement.

A common misconception regarding AR is that it is the same as virtual reality. While they are somewhat similar, they have one essential difference: Virtual reality attempts to place users in an artificial environment or world, while augmented reality supplements our world with useful interfaces or data.

For example, in virtual reality, you could be sitting in your living room but the technology places you somewhere else entirely, such as Mars. In augmented reality, you would be sitting in your living room and be able to see it in front of you, but your vision would be filled with additional information and data about your surroundings. This could come in the form of an overlay showing the potential channels you could see on your television, or the temperature of the room, or even the remaining lifetime of a light bulb on your ceiling.

Even though it seems like virtual reality has been the “big thing” in technological advancements, augmented reality is lately a better prospect for tech companies to look at. The hardware and technology already exists, though it isn’t perfect or as elegant as ultimately preferred.

Early versions of AR includes heads-up displays (HUDs) in jet fighters that projects information like compass directions, altitude, angles, etc. Now that technology has advanced to a stage where computers have shrunk in size but grown in terms of computing power, AR could be implemented for anyone on a daily-basis.

An excellent example of AR usage in recent years is Pokemon Go. The game requires you to walk around in real life and to catch Pokemon in real life locations using your smartphone. You can look through your phone’s camera to see a Pokemon physically standing in front of you.

Google has also applied AR to services like their Translation app. By facing your camera onto a block of text, Google’s Translate app automatically converts the text for you in real-time. It lets you see the text in the language you specified.

Marketing companies are using AR to better effect. By downloading Disney’s Star Wars app, you can learn more about a new character that will be revealed in Star Wars: The Last Jedi for a limited time only. When you scan certain codes or icons in up to 20,000 retail stores, 15 characters from Star Wars will come to life through the AR element of your app .

One of the biggest news to hit the market recently was the patent that Microsoft applied for regarding a “magic wand” controller that pairs with their HoloLens. This marks the tech giant’s continuing interest in the AR industry and their ongoing development on providing AR platforms more tools to work with.

Ultimately, AR is still in its growing phase. With the recent track record of VR’s growth and development, it’s a reasonable reaction to be wary of AR’s potential. However, AR supporters strongly believe that the augmented reality industry will have its “aha!” moment in the near future. When that comes, surely our lives will change forever.

Source: Scully Labs

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