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What is Augmented Reality?

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What is Augmented reality? For most of people it is still abstract and exotic technology for today. We often see such kind of concept in HollyWood sci-fi films. All those holograms, and displays seem so futuristic. So no one believes that some of them are already here. But they are.

Fighters pilots and some ground forces use head up displays to get extra data from the world around.

Microsoft makes awesome hologram to show it by taking whale into gym.


What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is technology that upgrades our real world adding layer of digital information to it. Unlike virtual reality, AR doesn’t create artificial surroundings around a user to replace real world with a virtual one. It uses direct view of existing environment and fuses it with sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Such kind of technology is popular in various ways in different parts of human life. For example, the head up display of aircraft pilot may show useful information. It may be GPS positioning, speed, “distance to the target”, compass and gyroscope.

Nowadays, AR mostly refers complex and interactive concept. Now digital parts like 3D models and media are directly fused, or projected onto physical world. The whole digital layer of AR change is in connection to real world changes.

Brief History of Augmented Reality

In the matter of fact, it takes several decades for augmented reality to become what it is today. In addition, first AR ideas appeared in XX century, but strong interest it received only in last few years. Moreover, it was not just creation of science fiction authors, but real concepts and experiments.

AR in 1960s

In 1968 Ivan Sutherland in touch with Bob Sproull created first head-mounted display. This prototype he called The Sword of Damocles. Devices supported both virtual and augmented reality. Obviously, it was primitive and showed users just simple wireframes and computer graphics.

AR in 1970s

In 1975 Myron Krueger created Videoplace – an artificial reality laboratory. The scientist realized an idea to interact with surrounded digital stuff using user movements. This concept implemented by several projectors and video cameras, hardware and onscreen silhouettes. Above all, a user may interact with Videoplace without any goggles or gloves.

AR in 1980s

In 1980 Steve Mann developed the first portable computer called EyeTap. The device was designed to be worn in front of the eye. It recorded the scene the way the computer superimposed digital effects with original scene in front of a user. Finally, the display showed to the user augmented reality that may be interacted by head moves.

In 1987 Douglas George and Robert Morris developed the prototype of heads-up display. Also known as HUD. It displayed astronomical data over the real sky. Constellars, celestial bodies and other actual info superimposed on original image of the scene.

AR in 1990s

1990 may be marked as the birth of the “augmented reality” term. It first appeared in the work of Caudell and Mizell Boeing researchers .

In 1992 Louis Rosenberg at the US Air Force created AR system called Virtual Fixtures. It overlay extra sensory data on user workplace display. As a result, additional information provided major benefits to the operator. Hence, Virtual Fixtures boost accuracy and enhance user performance.

In 1999 group of scientists led by Frank Delgado and Mike Abernathy tested navigation software. The results of LandForm test was successful and showed great potential of AR for navigation. It overlay actual runways, streets and their names over video from a helicopter.

AR in 2000s

In 2000 Japanese scientist Hirokazu Kato developed and published ARToolKit. It was published as open-source SDK at HITLab. Later, in 2009 Saqosha adopted ARToolKit to work with Adobe Flash. As a  result, so called FLARToolKit brought AR to web.

In 2004 Trimble Navigation presented outdoor helmet-mounted augmented reality system. Trimble showed capability of AR by showing models of a structure and superimposed them on the real world.

In 2008 Wikitude made Augmented Reality Travel Guide. It was developed for G1 Android mobile devices. The prototype of AR Browser used internet connection for various device’s API’s to engage a user into augmented reality.

AR nowadays

In 2013 Google beta tested Google Glass. Glasses like device connect to internet due to bluetooth via the user’s mobile device. In additional, google Glass highly interactive without addition gadgets. It’s react when user speaks, touches special frames or move his head.

In 2015 Microsoft show two brand new technologies: Windows Holographic and HoloLens. Used together augmented reality headset utilized bunch of sensors to display HD holograms.

In 2016 Niantic launched Pokemon Go for mobile device. App blow the market of game industry and receive almost $2 million in first week. As result, it also quickly draw attention to AR in total.

Augmented reality usage

Augmented reality use different concepts and various ways to enriching our everyday activities. For this reason, concept of enhancing people’s view of real surroundings may be used everywhere. In order to change perception AR use computer graphic and digital stuff.

To be more specific we will shown list of different real world spheres of people’s life. What is more, we add application that developed to enhance it. Most favorable areas where AR may get large market part are: gaming, commerce and education.

AR in Games Industry

Game industry would use augmented reality on full potential. With AR developers may provide advanced game experience to the players. Unlike common games, AR games try to use real world surroundings as part of game world. So It fuse both of them and make them interactive between each other.

Niantic game development company, famous through making Pokemon GO and Ingress. Both games try to engagement players to explore real world to get the game experience. So, they opposite to other games that may be played at home.

LyteShot, as well as Niantic, try to transfer game grounds from digital in-device world into real surrounding. Instead of controlling virtual character, players take most of game activities on themselves. By moving, observing, hiding and using special tools they play, win or lose. In this case term “action game” become real action, not just active clicking on button!

Moreover, augmented reality may buff even sport game activities. Canadian tech company SAGA add digital content to common school gym activities. Their concept is simple and enjoyable. In order to destroying virtual cubes on wall children should hit it by real balls. Such idea engage all children for sport action.

AR in Commerce

Whatever it are: retail, real-estate or eCommerce AR technology used to get benefits in each part of Commerce. Various researches and surveys already shows that usage AR provide huge benefits. For such as marketing, services and trial causes it may increased sales rate. In additionally, it may decrease return rate.

AR in retail

Some of retail Brands already use AR to attract more client. As result it increase their in-store traffic and buff Brand awareness. Some of AR features also may help customers to make wiser decision. Such feature provide more details about product in text format, or virtual 3D model of it. In the end, customers feel more comfortable by using AR capabilities.

  • L’Oreal Paris brought Makeup genius stand to own shop to attract customers to it.

AR in real-estate

When whole real-estate project limited in 2D dimension it’s hard to get full imagine whole picture of it. AR may provide 3D view of any object. It also enable use to customize it. For example, change size and styles. Or even set transparency for different part of project.

AR in eCommerce

Unfortunately, images and text not provide enough info about product in website catalog. But by using AR features customers may see 3D model of it directly in real world. Moreover, some gadgets specialized for AR usage can provide even tactile experience to user.

AR in Education

Using augmented reality in the classroom may take various ways. Any text, video and audio media would be more memorable into AR shell. Due to that it best suits to show some complex or abstract concepts. Especially, those that may be hard to visualize by computers or imagine in mind of students.

So, let’s separate augmented reality usage in education purpose in 3 categories:

For pupils

Most of such kind of apps build to engage children into education process. Main idea of them is make it more interesting and enjoyable. So to reach this result AR use colorful models, cute characters or playful interactivity.

For students

This are complex applications that explain in deeps various topics. It may be mathematic, chemistry or even human anatomy. It also may include some game-elements. But even so, app need more than just attention. User also require some skills and knowledge to use it. Finally, there are applications that designed to create classroom AR content.

For self-education

This category include apps suitable for in everyday usage in measures of self-education. For example, Google Translate can translate printed text and have colossal education potential. But, meantime, tourist also solve various benefits from it. As example to don’t lost in foreign country.

AR for Military Purpose

Augmented reality used for pilot’s head up to provide detailed data about plane status. For fighters AR use overlapping surrounding landscape to advance navigation. Especially, for times with limited visibility. Beside, it may inform pilot about any danger in their paths.

Ground forces also get used of benefits that AR could provide. It help navigate around unknown area depending on map. Augmented reality fuse fixed geographic navigation and action video data from soldier’s HUD. Moreover, it shows allies/foes/neutral location marks in real time.

AR in Medicine and Healthcare

Potential of augmented reality usage in medicine is immersive. It may help simplify diagnostic and monitoring patient’s data. For example, Augmented reality provide X-ray like view according to lasted patience’s tomography. Also AR used to visualize veins or localization of tumor.

AR in Art

Augmented reality also have found its place in hand of artists. All artists used it in own way. As result there may be founded some interesting stuff.

Visual Art

  • Artist called Amir Bardarams use AR in his work Frenchising the Mona Lisa” to animate famous Da Vinci art.
  • Fabio Giampietro also broaden of horizons by using new technology in his practice. Work called “Hyperplanes of Simultaneity” spring up to life by AR and create illusion.
  • Screencatchers – installation of Justin Amard provide AR effects to his felt-pen drawings.


  • Rihanna and David Guetta deal with Doritos to make an augmented reality experience to their track “Who’s That Chick?”.
  • Carnegie Mellon University use AR to advance music education. In order that, they developed hologram application that teach people in several ways.  

Other areas

Architecture, design, archeology, tourism and many other spheres of our life also may use augmented reality. It will provide better experience, for sure. Finally, AR allow to simplify complex concepts as well as visualize abstract idea. such technology may provide deeper and wider understanding of different stuff.


Augmented reality soon will fight its way into our everyday lives. There is no doubt in it. Multifunctional devices as tablets and smartphones become common things. Moreover, cost all of that become cheaper year to year. So it is only a matter of time when AR would take major part of market.

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