Introduction To Augmented Reality (AR)

What Is Augmented Reality?

In fundamental terms, the expression augmented reality, often abbreviated to AR, refers to a simple combination of real and virtual (computer-generated) worlds.

Given a real subject, captured on video or camera, the technology ‘augments' (= adds to) that real-world image with extra layers of digital information. 

Those of us who enjoy watching television coverage of sport will already have experienced a basic form of augmented reality in action.

Picture the cricket pitch on which a logo for a well-known sponsor miraculously appears, or an Olympic swimming race where a line indicating the position of the current world record holder appears ahead of the competitors moving frantically through the water.

A Brief History of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality was coined by Thomas P Caudell of Boeing in 1990.

The first properly functioning AR system was probably the one developed at USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab by Louis Rosenberg in 1992.

This was called Virtual Fixtures and was an incredibly complex robotic system which was designed to compensate for the lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power in the early 90s.

It enabled the overlay of sensory information on a workspace to improve human productivity

There were many other breakthroughs in augmented reality between here and today; the most notable of which include:

  • Bruce Thomas developing an outdoor mobile AR game called ARQuake in 2000 ARToolkit (alat rekabentuk) disediakan di Adobe Flash pada tahun 2009.
  • Google announcing its open beta of Google Glass (a project with mixed successes) in 2013
  • Microsoft announcing augmented reality support and their augmented reality headset HoloLens in 2015

How Does Augmented Reality Work?

How does AR work? For AR a certain range of data (images, animations, videos, 3D models) may be used and people will see the result in both natural and synthetic light. Also, users are aware of being in the real world which is advanced by computer vision, unlike in VR.

AR can be displayed on various devices: screens, glasses, handheld devices, mobile phones, head-mounted displays.

It involves technologies like S.L.A.M. (simultaneous localization and mapping), depth tracking (briefly, a sensor data calculating the distance to the objects), and the following components:

1. Cameras & Sensors

Collecting 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.

It may be special duty cameras, like in Microsoft Hololens, or common smartphone cameras to take pictures/videos.

2. Processing

AR devices eventually should act like little computers, something modern smartphones already do. In the same manner, they require a CPU, a GPU, flash memory, RAM, Bluetooth/WiFi, a GPS, etc. to be able to measure speed, angle, direction, orientation in space, and so on.

3. Projection

This refers to a miniature projector on AR headsets, which takes data from sensors and projects digital content (result of processing) onto a surface to view. In fact, the use of projections in AR has not been fully invented yet to use it in commercial products or services.

4. Reflection

Some AR devices have mirrors to assist human eyes to view virtual images. Some have an “array of small curved mirrors” and some have a double-sided mirror to reflect light to a camera and to a user's eye.

The goal of such reflection paths is to perform a proper image alignment.

3 Main Categories of Augmented Reality Tools

1. AR 3D Viewers

Allow users to place life-size 3D models in your environment with or without the use of trackers.

Trackers are simple images that 3D models can be attached to in Augmented Reality.

2. AR Browser

Enrich your camera display with contextual information. For example, you can point your smartphone at a building to display its history or estimated value.

3. Gaming

Creating immersive gaming experiences that utilize your actual surroundings. Imagine shooting games with zombies walking in your own bedroom!

The biggest use of Augmented Reality gaming to-date is Pokémon Go, allowing users to catch virtual Pokémon who are hidden throughout a map of the real world.

Different Types of Augmented Reality

he best part of the Augmented Reality is that it is accessible for the ordinary user. Augmented reality companies are probably helping users to experience augmented reality with the help of smartphones.

This is the reason we can observe that augmented reality is prevalent in various verticals. This has lead businesses and globalization to the new heights of the latest developments.

Let us have a look at the types of Augmented reality.

  1. Marker-Based Augmented Reality

The other name for Marker-Based AR is also called Image Recognition or Recognition based AR. this type of AR provides us more information about the object after it focuses on the recognition of objects.

Marker-based AR technology has diverse uses according to market purposes. It detects the object in front of the camera and provides information about the object on the screen.

The recognition of the object is based on the marker where it replaces the marker on the screen with a 3D version of the corresponding object.

Therefore, the user can view the object in more detail and from various angles. Apart from that while rotating the marker user can also rotate the 3D imagery as well. This acts as a reference for the AR app running on the system.

2. Projection Augmented Reality

Projection based AR  works by projecting artificial light onto real world surfaces. 

Projection based  applications allow for human interaction by sending light onto a real world surface and then sensing the human interaction (i.e. touch) of that projected light.

Detecting the user’s interaction is done by differentiating between an expected (or known) projection and the altered projection (caused by the user’s interaction).

Another interesting application of projection based augmented reality utilizes laser plasma technology to project a three-dimensional (3D) interactive hologram into mid-air.

3. Superimposition Based Augmented Reality

Superimposition based AR either partially or fully replaces the original view of an object with a newly augmented view of that same object. 

In superimposition based AR, object recognition plays a vital role because the application cannot replace the original view with an augmented one if it cannot determine what the object is.

A strong consumer-facing example of superimposition based augmented reality could be found in the Ikea augmented reality furniture catalogue.

By downloading an app and scanning selected pages in their printed or digital catalogue, users can place virtual ikea furniture in their own home with the help of augmented reality.

4. Markerless Augmented Reality

As one of the most widely implemented applications of augmented reality, markerless (also called location-based, position-based, or GPS)AR.

It uses a GPS, digital compass, velocity meter, or accelerometer which is embedded in the device to provide data based on your location.

A strong force behind markerless technology is the wide availability of smartphones and location detection features they provide.

It is most commonly used for mapping directions, finding nearby businesses, and other location-centric mobile applications.

How To Use Augmented Reality Application?

The idea for using augmented reality apps is simple:

  • Download the app
  • Get the marker image/code/flyer
  • Place the marker in your environment
  • Point the device at the marker and interact with augmented reality

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