Augmented Reality

Augmented reality technology is the interaction between digital elements and real-world environments. By utilizing a live video feed and visual overlays, augmented reality programs enable the user to see digital objects and other projections appear in the world around them. These types of programs can not only project graphics, but also provide audio and even haptic sensory details when using them.

Augmented reality lies somewhere in the middle of what is known as the mixed reality spectrum. The mixed reality spectrum is a scale that encompasses all forms and variations of real and virtual objects in real or virtual environments. On one end of the spectrum is virtual reality, which is a fully immersive experience in a virtual world that hopes to be indistinguishable from real life. Augmented reality is more closely linked to mirror worlds, which are alternative realities that model our world by replicating it in a virtual environment. Unlike mirror worlds, however, augmented reality does not use a virtual environment, and instead uses real-time viewing of our natural environment.


Contrary to common belief, augmented reality was not invented recently, it goes back to 1968 when a Harvard professor, Ivan Sutherland, invented what he called back then “The Sword of Damocles” The Sword of Damocles featured a head-mounted display that hung from the ceiling. The user would experience computer graphics, which made him or her feel as though these graphics were part of the real-world. The technology was then developed by Myron Krueger and he called the project “Videoplace” which uses the combination of a projection system and video cameras that result in creating shadows on the screen. This combination allowed the users to feel as if they were in an interactive environment. After years of research and development, a Boeing researcher, Tom Caudell, coined this technology “Augmented Reality” in 1990. Two years after this technology earned an official name, the first real operational augmented reality system was created by Louis Rosenburg from the United States Air Force. This system is considered to be the base or an early version of what most Augmented Reality systems do today. The very first theater to use augmented reality was created by Julie Martin in 1992, which presented acrobats dancing around virtual objects on the stage. One of the first uses of augmented reality in television was by Sportsvision, who used it during a live NFL game to show the original virtual yellow first down marker. Hirokazu Katu from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology made a major advancement in the augmented reality technology when he created a Software called “Artoolkit” the software could capture real-world actions and combine it with interactions of virtual object in 2000. In 2009, Esquire magazine collaborated with Hollywood star, Robert Downey Jr. to use augmented reality in their print media to allow readers to scan the barcode on the magazine to experience augmented reality content. Augmented reality is used in many different fields.

Applications and softwares are now available for individuals to transform their vision into reality, people in sectors like construction, industrial design, archaeology, art, architecture, education, translation, military, games, sports, entertainment, and tourism have various options of augmented reality to make their task more realistic and easy.

Real-life Applications


Video Games

Augmented reality has been most obviously and commonly displayed to the public by video games. Video games have often been the starting point where metaverse scenarios (augmented reality, mirror-worlds, virtual reality and life-logging first stage their abilities to the world and augmented reality is no different. Augmented reality has broken stereotypical gaming and allowed users to interact with the real world, playing outdoors in real locations in the real world. An example is Pokémon Go, where users physically travel through their house, neighborhoods or cities, to find and “catch” virtual Pokémon creatures through their phone. Augmented reality is the bridge to this game where users connect the creatures seen on their screen, to the real-life locations where they stand. The use of augmented reality has allowed Pokémon Go to attract more than 750 million downloads and is constantly adapting and perfecting its use. The gaming industry is introducing more and more augmented reality games as the popularity for an interactive connection between the real world, and the virtual world increases.


Medical Industry

Medical advances in technology have flooded doctors in recent times and augmented reality is no different. In 2018, the augmented reality device market is worth US$659.98 million with much of those devices deriving from the medical industry. Doctors are beginning to use augmented reality devices to collect more relevant information in regard to their patients. Microsoft HoloLens (with software designed by Scopis) has allowed surgeons to see an overlay of information assisting with critical spinal surgery. However, augmented reality devices have been more prominent as medical educational tools. Devices such as AccuVein glasses are used by students aspiring to be nurses and doctors to better recognize veins and inject needles. These adaptations to the medical education has improved quality of standard received and allowed current medical graduates to gain more experience than previous generations. The third use of augmented reality within the medical industry is its impact directly on the patient. AR devices are being used to better improve a patient’s life-style, attempting to bring normality. NuEyes, a recently built AR device, allows partially blind patients to see and navigate their surrounds through glasses. These products are not only possible, but also financially feasible as NuEyes are currently within a US$5,000 budget. The medical industry is rapidly adapting to the advances in technology and augmented reality is at the forefront with AR devices for patients, doctors and students.


Augmented reality is rapidly emerging in the workplace with industries adopting AR devices for workers to gather and store information and even generate solutions within the workplace. Augmented reality increases workers speed, efficiency and accuracy enhancing the companies overall. For example, Boeing, a large plane manufacturing business, allows workers to use augmented reality to assemble wiring which resulted in reducing production time by 25% whilst also adopting an error rate of nearly 0%. Today we are seeing industries such as manufacturing, construction, retail, architecture and mining use augmented reality in conjunction with workers to better enhance their abilities to place virtual concepts over a real-life product or space. Hence using AR decreases the need for physical prototypes and allow companies to see possible concepts with a click of a button. Augmented reality has also allowed companies to educate workers quicker and with more ease, ultimately reducing the skills gap in the industry allowing more workers to have the potential to contribute to the company in an effective way. An example of AR in the workplace is google cardboard, where workers can use their smartphones in conjunction with google cardboard to see overlays of virtual concepts on real-life machines or spaces. Augmented reality is rapidly transforming the workplace for the better, bringing a new level of efficiency and speed to the workplace.


Augmented reality has huge potential within navigation as our modes of transport continue to develop. Augmented reality is used in our everyday transport of cars, trucks and other road legal transport vehicles. We are now seeing huge leaps by car manufactures, such a Mercedes-Benz, using augmented reality to display a system of information over real-life roads. This information includes information about the car (such as fuel, speed and tire pressure), external information (such as obstacles, wind, temperature and topography, as well as additional information unseen to humans (such as road rules and traffic conditions). In order for navigation program to recognize external information, many systems consist of artifical intelligence inbuilt into the system. Although mobile vehicles are beginning to experience augmented reality, augmented reality has been a significant influence with aircraft over the past decade. Augmented reality is used within fighter jets for advanced tracking and weapons systems, along with general aircraft in more simple procedures such as take-off and landing. The benefit of augmented reality within aircraft has reduced accidents (mainly caused by human error) by 85% creating a safer and more automated flying process.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The idea of augmented reality is very important in many areas in our modern-day, form the medical field to the military, to entertainment, augmented reality is similar to any technology in the sense that it has its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the pros in the augmented reality involves its crucial application to surgeries. Digital X-ray view depend on real images gained from ultrasound, analyzing the position of a tumor seen inside an endoscope video. Also for pregnant women, a provision is used to observe the position as well as the size of the fetus more clearly. All of this is supported by augmented reality application development.

Many clothing companies now are leaning towards augmented reality by establishing applications to create a virtual fitting room where users can see how a piece of clothing would look on them and what is the appropriate size for them. Also when people design their home, they are now able to see how would a sofa, painting, TV, coffee table and many more things look in their house. Another advantage of augmented reality would be in travel and tourism. People can use AR to navigate and interpret signs especially when they the signs are in languages that the user does not speak, many apps including google translate would translate and replace the language on signs with the preferred language of the user. Also it is beneficial in providing in-depth information regarding buildings, streets, art in museums…etc.

One of the disadvantages of AR is that it might increase the chances of injuries and accidents. In many countries now, it is illegal to drive while putting on Google glass because they might get distracted while driving. Also many people get sucked up in their device that operates AR without paying attention to their surrounding, which threats the safety of many individuals. It could also be problematic when people become obsessed with a certain AR to the point of not being considerate to others. A recent example of this would be Pokémon Go. People enter properties of others without permission to capture Pokémon and this caused many people to put themselves in danger of being injured, arrested, and killed.

Future Uses

Future uses of augmented reality can be summarized as limitless as its capabilities reach into every industry. By the year 2025, the augmented reality industry is expected to be worth US$35 billion with the main sectors including gaming, healthcare and engineering. However, augmented reality is also emerging through sectors such as travel, retail and real estate. Augmented reality has huge potential to impact travel and tourist destinations. 84% of travelers said they would like to use augmented reality to further expand their knowledge in places such as museums, national parks, cities and almost all tourist attractions. Retail is yet to exploit its opportunity with augmented reality, as 40% of customers would be willing to pay more if augmented reality was offered within stores. “Invisible” stores involve kiosks with inbuilt augmented reality programs displaying products on the customer. These kiosks are gaining traction in New York and could see the use of online, in store and augmented shopping co-exist in the future. The real estate and architecture industry would benefit from the use of augmented reality as real estate agents and architects could use augmented reality to showcase potential prototypes in a more interactive way. In 2016, 51% of customers put off the renovation of their home due to their inability to visualize its ending, a problem which would come at the click of a button given augmented reality. In addition to possible future applications, augmented reality is gaining huge support from technology giants and is rapidly becoming an industry of its own. Developers such as Apple and Andriod have began setting up platforms (for example Apple has introduced ARkit, a free app on the App Store) where developers can more easily incorporate augmented reality within their programs and apps. Large investments from Google and Alibaba has also create augmented reality software focused companies based in Silicon Valley. For example, Magic leap raised US$1.4 billion over the past year from these tech giants in order to design augmented reality programs and devices serving all industries. Augmented reality has the potential to branch into many industries including food and beverage, retail, travel, fashion, marketing, healthcare, education and manufacturing.


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