As virtual reality becomes easily accessible, the interest in the field of Augmented Reality has been rising slowly. It is believed to be a bigger technological revolution than VR and its applications are already substantial and we may have even seen some of it in the movies.
Augmented Reality (AR) is also called Mixed Reality (MR) because it adds layers of a virtual world on top of the real world. This layer may consist of graphics and may respond to touch. In simple words, the physical world is augmented with a layer of computer-generated images.
While Virtual reality closes off your senses to your surroundings, Augmented Reality mixes effortlessly with things around you.
There are different types of Augmented Reality domains. We will try to describe each.
- Marker-based AR (image recognition): A Camera is used to recognize a visual marker like QR code and information related to that is relayed to the user.
- Markerless AR: You may have seen an ad on TV where a car’s windscreen shows you information about the nearby restaurants, or provide directions. This is a typical example of a geo-based Markerless AR. It could be used for navigation, show places of interest, help with the discovery of new places, etc.
- Projection based AR: In this type of AR, a tiny projector throws an image on a real-world surface and the image can be controlled by touch. As an example, you can call someone by touching their numbers from an AR keyboard display projected on a piece of paper or even your hand.
- Superimposition based AR: if you have ever tried the Ikea AR furniture catalogue, it would be easy to under this concept. In this type of AR, you can superimpose a virtual object into a physical location to see how it fits and looks. Want to try that new chair near the corner to see how it looks? Superimpose the chair image and see before you move it.
While these are some of the main types of AR, many more exist and maybe already functional in different industries.
Needless to say, the technology is more complex than VR and it needs a tremendous amount of processing power. AR needs cameras, accurate sensors, and tiny projectors and a lot of custom hardware and software to function.
Microsoft HoloLens is one of the first mixed reality devices available to developers and big industries at the moment. It is expected to reach the retail market in the next few years.
They also suspect Apple to be working on an AR device kit with an expected timeline of early 2020.
Magic Leap is considered to be one of the biggest technological startups in the field of Augmented Reality. It has the backing of some of the biggest tech companies in the world and is expected to release its first AR device in late 2018.
AR devices are expected to have fewer health concerns than VR ones. Until the AR devices reach the market, enjoy your VR headsets responsibly.