Lately, augmented reality is stirring up quite a buzz in the world of technology, with the excitement growing around Google Glass and other technologies that are expected to change the way we live. Despite all the hype, it seems as though many people are still unsure about what exactly augmented reality is and how it works.
What Is It?
Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery. It is a combination of a real scene viewed by a user and a virtual scene generated by a computer that augments the scene with additional information. The addition of a computer-assisted contextual layer of information over the real world creates a reality that is enhanced or augmented, giving this ground-breaking and futuristic technology its name.
Now, that you understand the basics of AR, let’s look at some instances of this technology in use. Google Maps is a great example of AR and one that is familiar to many. It simulates the virtual presence on the specific location as if we are standing there. The archived photos of that specific location are virtually stitched together for 360 degree view online (see picture). Another example comes from the game of cricket. The movement of the ball based on speed, angle of throw from the bowler, the moisture on ground, the temperature, wind speed, and other factors are computed and virtually recreated to predict the ball movement in the pitch (see picture).
Types of Augmented Reality
There are two primary types of Augmented Reality implementations: marker-based and markerless. Marker-based implementations use a QR Code or a 2D black and white pattern to produce a result when it is sensed by a reader, typically a camera on a mobile device. On the other hand, markerless technology requires no marker to know the position of the object or person. Smartphone browsers that layer information over live locations are often considered to be in the markerless category. It may also be referred to as location-based AR, and can be used to track an object in the real world as well. When location data isn’t used, a “marker” or “tag” is often used in its place.
Both types of augmented reality require AR-specific hardware, software or browsers to function. AR implementations consist of using device camera APIs, graphics APIs, and sensor APIs to overlay the augmentation data over the live data and create a pleasant augmented experience. Marker-based AR is currently the most prevalent and easiest to accomplish. While Markerless AR is emerging, its use is still rather limited due to sensor accuracy.
Since Augmented Reality overlays information onto real world scenes, the applications for this technology are endless. They could very well revolutionize the way we learn and perform tasks and jobs every day. A good example is the work Lionbridge recently did with HP to help develop an augmented reality application that teaches consumers how to change the ink cartridge on their HP printer. Watch the video featuring HP’s AR application.
For more information on augmented reality, or any of Lionbridge’s training and development services, visit us here.