Augmented reality (AR) is more than a novelty. It’s an integrated technology that’s become a game-changer in the industries from entertainment to manufacturing and stands to be an integral part of modern life for years to come. Read on to learn what AR is and how it’s being used right now.
Augmented reality is a technology that layers computer-generated imagery onto the real world via photo or video cameras in devices such as smartphones. AR is distinct from VR (virtual reality) in that virtual reality creates an entirely artificial world. For example, imagine opening your cell phone camera and seeing your living room with a digital raccoon overlayed onto the image, to make it look like the animal was sitting on your floor. This is augmented reality in its simplest form. AR can be used for a host of applications from games to education to productivity, in every industry imaginable — from entertainment to tourism to healthcare to retail.
You’ve almost certainly seen AR in action already, especially if you watch sports. The yellow first-down marker in NFL football broadcasts and the short-lived tail behind fast-moving hockey pucks during televised NHL ice hockey games are both examples of some of the earliest AR applications.
Specialized augmented reality apps and integrated applications of augmented reality are found in abundance in today’s world. Whether it’s smartphone games or tools for better productivity in the workplace, augmented reality has become a game-changer in many sectors. Here are some real-world AR examples.
Games can be enhanced with AR or even based entirely on this technology. The best-known example is Pokémon Go. In this game, players travel around their real-world environment, which informs the game what to display in a corresponding virtual environment. Poke stops and gyms are placed in real-world locations waiting for virtual interaction. Not only that but lively Pokémon characters can be superimposed on the real world as well
Another popular example is Real Strike, an AR first-person shooter game played on smartphones. Real Strike superimposes targets, enemies, and weapons in the camera’s real-world video, letting players roam around the world fighting and shooting.
Augmented technology is also behind the ubiquitous filters found in social media and web meeting apps from Instagram to TikTok and even Zoom. AR allows users to insert funny faces or alternate environments and even to alter facial features in real-time while chatting, snapping photos, or recording video.
AR can do more than just entertain — it can also enhance students’ learning experience and make material easier to access and engage with. Take Photomath, for example. This app lets students scan tricky math problems and watch as the app explains the solution right in their smartphone, speeding up the process of learning.
Augmented reality is being used in complex manufacturing situations to speed up manual work and improve accuracy in critical situations such as airplane manufacture. With the help of smart glasses, Skylight by Upskill helps technicians step through complex workflows, access reference materials, and view instructions right in their line of sight — hands-free.
Augmented reality apps can make navigation easier, not only on the road but in work environments such as warehouses. AR GPS Compass, for example, superimposes helpful navigational tools such as compasses onto the camera’s image to aid in navigation. Similarly, AR-enabled smart glasses can help warehouse worker find the shortest path to an item and even point to it on the shelf.
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