Augmented reality in everyday life

Augmented reality in everyday life

Augmented reality in everyday life

One of the most interesting things that fast developing technical progress brought in our life was technology called «augmented reality».
Augmented reality allows for a digitally enhanced view of the real world, connecting you with more meaningful content in your everyday life. With the camera and sensors in a smartphone or tablet, AR adds layers of digital information – videos, photos, sounds – directly on top of items in the world around us.
In some ways augmented reality is another way to access stored data, and it influence on our society can be compared to that of Internet. Actually, Internet and augmented reality have a lot in common – both of them make searching for necessary information much easier. While Internet provides access to humongous amount of data, AR can marry the context (i.e. the time relevance and location) with application specific requests to give targeted, specific and unique answers. Internet and search engines gave us the ability to find information with just several written inquires; AR is able to give us information we need with just one fast glance.
Another similarity between Internet and AR is vast field of application. Even now, in its beginner state, AR is already used in different spheres of human life. Here are several examples:
One of the main purposes of AR is fast and easy providing of information. So it’s not surprising that this technology quickly found application in education. Augmented reality apps are transforming and revolutionizing the way learning and education are delivered, making studying engaging and intuitive.
For example, place-based geo-locative Augmented Reality game Jewish Time Jump: New York allows players travel back in time to the early 1900s in Greenwich Village to uncover a story in Jewish and American history that has been lost to time. The game and interactive story takes the form of a situated documentary, and runs on the ARIS platform for iPhone and iPad. On their quest to uncover stories, players gather multiple perspectives on the ground from digital characters and events, while gathering clues through historical artifacts including newspapers of the time, (with Yiddish translation) and various artifacts.
And, if we touched upon space theme, there are two apps that should be mentioned: Google Sky Map и Satellite AR.
Google Sky Map is an augmented reality app which makes learning about astronomy interesting and fun. Instead of looking at descriptions of constellations in a book and then attempting to identify them in the sky, you can use Google Sky Map to directly identify stars and constellations using the camera on your smartphone. Satellite AR does the same thing, but for satellites.
Both apps demonstrate one of the biggest strengths of AR: it can show very difficult information in a simple, intuitive way.

In a new neighborhood or exploring another city? AR apps will shows you what's nearby and where you should go. Such apps as как City Lens by Nokia, Wikitude and  Junaio by Metaio can instantly determine your surroundings, including restaurants, shops, hotels and other points of interest. Also, these AR apps let you filter by category so you can find exactly what you're looking for, whether it's a coffee shop, restaurant or museum. And you won't need to worry about getting turned around by the map — the AR app will adapt based on what you're facing. Such apps are already becoming a necessity for those who travel a lot.
But it’s not only about cities — AR apps can help to find a way in a museum or in a big shopping mall. It is quite possible that AR soon will replace signs and pointers with simple virtual interface.
Augmented reality can turn almost any activity in a game. For example, Zombies, Run! turns jogging into escaping from zombies, and BallStrike can spice a warm-up with hitting virtual balls.
Especially popular are the games with «hunting» element, for example, game Ingress. Developed by a Google subsidiary called Niantic, Ingress is set in an alternative version of the real world. Players take a side — Enlightened or Resistance — which battle against each other over «Exotic Matter» (or XM), which is seeded throughout actual locations around the world. Gameplay involves taking control of «portals,» which are typically placed in conjunction with the location of popular real-world landmarks such as sculptures, libraries, churches, and other heavily-trafficked buildings. The bigger the city, the more portals it tends to have, with densely populated areas the most portal-rich parts of the game map.
Even already existing «usual» game can acquire augmented reality double, as it happened with mobile hit game Angry Birds. And it’s not surprising, because augmented reality technology provides many interesting possibilities for unusual gameplay.
Retail and marketing
But the most success augmented reality found in the retail and marketing industry. AR technology enables a whole lot of new and original ways to appeal to consumers. By creating three-dimensional imagery, augmented reality in retail can create an accurate representation of the products being sold to the consumers. It can solve one of the most prominent problems of e-commerce: remoteness between customers and goods that exists only as a picture on a screen.  But when a customer can get something right in the hands – even if it’s just an illusion – involvement increases drastically.
Even the simplest uses of AR can attract customers. There are a lot of examples of that:
Braun and Olympus have both created websites that allow potential customers to do nothing more than pretend to hold their products in hand, allowing them to examine them from all angles from the comfort of home. Volvo is promoting the Volvo S60 sports sedan driving experience with app that allows users to race a Volvo S60 through their phone on the YouTube page, experiencing a whole new Volvo world. December's edition of Esquire magazine was a special «augmented reality» edition where readers use custom-designed software and a webcam to interact with the pages being viewed and get access to 3D animated video content. Lacta adds «hidden» messages on their chocolates’ wrappers that are visible only through AR. Heinz, Starbucks, Nestle, Tic Tac, BMW, Volkswagen, BBC – this is just some of the companies that actively use AR in their ads. AR even found its way into politics: Barack Obama has become the first politician to use augmented reality in his bid to win a second term in office.
But AR applications are not limited by advertisement field only. Although novelty and unusualness of AR play a big role in tis popularity, we shouldn’t t forget that AR is so well-known now just because it is convenient for users. For example, thre is such thing as “interactive mirrors” – augmented dressing rooms. Instead of trying on multiple pieces of clothing, customers can use these “mirrors” (LCD screens) to see how clothes will really look on them — down to the twirl of a dress when the woman wearing it spins around. The system uses a combination of image recognition and 3D models to create lifelike clothing. The same principle can be used for trying on jewelry, glasses or even cosmetics. 
2014 IKEA catalog let you “sample” a selection of their designs with the help of an AR app, so you can see how they would look in your own home. Augmented reality can be used to provide real-time instruction. With images hovering over the project you’re working on, a good app can be more helpful than pages of written instruction. And so on, and so on – even now the possibilities of AR are quite vast.

Technical base for all this richness is provided by large choice of platforms and apps. Here are some of the most popular:
Layar.  An augmented reality browser for mobile devices, created in 2009. Layar works by using a combination of the mobile phone’s camera, compass and GPS data to identify the user’s location and field of view, retrieve data based on those geographical coordinates, and overlay that data over the camera view. This data can be about anything – closest to you hotels and restaurants, points of interest and even walking nearby users FB and Twitter.
Aurasma. Aurasma is an augmented reality platform created by Autonomy Corporation, founded in Cambridge, England and later acquired by Hewlett-Packard in October 2011. With Aurasma, every image, object and even place can have its own «aura». Auras can be as simple as a video and a link to a web page or as complex as a lifelike 3D animation.
Junaio. Another augmented reality browser from a very experienced company (that has been working with AR since 2003). It provide to users information about their location and surroundings, and can use camera and geolocation data for object recognition. At startup, browser connects to the extensive database and inform user about points of interest that are nearby.
Wikitude. The fourfold winner of “Best AR Browser” award. It displays information about the users' surroundings in a mobile camera view, including image recognition and 3d modeling. This browser is very location-based, so it’s most useful for travelers. With Wikitude, you have access to a huge library of content (mostly user generated), including recommendations, events, tweets, Wikidepia articles, etc.
Statistics about AR platforms is also quite impressive. A report from Juniper Research has found that AR applications will generate close to $300 million in revenues globally in 2013. Today about 30% of mobile device owners use Ar apps as least once a week, and more than 2.5 billion AR apps to be downloaded to smartphones and tablets per annum by 2017, with games accounting for the largest share of downloads.
But even with such promising future this is just a beginning for AR. Specialists predict intensive usage of the technology is such dedicated fields as medicine (overlaying x-ray picture directly on the body of a patient) and military (creating tactical augmented reality visor).
But even mundane tasks as calling tech support can be improved with AR. You don’t have to listen to long, difficult instruction by phone, just aim your phone camera on the problem, and a specialist can actually show you what to do. Even now there are applications that can overlay a detailed scheme on a device. It’s really beneficial to all parties: consumer saves time and trouble, and company- manufacturer reduces workload on its tech support department.
So, augmented reality has definitely overgrown position of «fancy gadget», and gradually turns into completely new way of communication. Chris Brauer, CAST Co-Director and Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London said it best: “The question «Do we need augmented reality?» is similar to «Do we need Internet?». This technology will be a part of our everyday life, it will definitely happen. The only question is: what other interesting innovation it will bring along?”

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