- Do we realize how much-augmented reality, as a technology, is growing in popularity?
- While watching all those sci-fi movies that bolstered augmented reality, had we ever imagined that this technology would dramatically change the way we interact with data?
- Are we ready for the changes that this technology shall bring into our daily lives?
Let’s begin with an easy to understand definition of Augmented Reality (AR) – if we start to add digital content into our reality, then we start to augment it and hence, it becomes an immersive “Augmented Reality”.
For a formal definition; the addition of elements in a real-world environment, which are augmented by computer-generated perceptual information across multiple sensory modalities including sound, graphics, sensations, haptic and olfactory, is known as Augmented Reality.
The A-Reality and the Real World
Despite the fact that augmented reality is still in its exploratory phase, it has been a hot topic in recent years. Considering its growing popularity and advancements in the technological sector, let us briefly look at the market potential which is being explored for the technology.
The HoloLens is a miniature computer set into a headgear or glass-wear that brings a blended reality of physical real-world elements with virtual elements (referred to as “holograms” by Microsoft, and thus the term HoloLens). It enables you to experience a wide range of digital content in the most natural ways, interacting with responsive holograms. Holograms allow you to communicate, create, learn and explore the world around you through gaze, gesture and voice interactions, helping you in visualizing your ideas as real-world components.
Sketchup Viewer (HoloLens App)
SketchUp Viewer is a HoloLens Application specially designed for architects and students. It benefits them to evaluate, coordinate, and communicate with their design in mixed reality. Moreover, it has empowered them to showcase building-designs to clients in a pragmatic way.
In coming years, it has been estimated that HoloLens will capture 29 new markets excluding the current 10 markets which are already in collaboration to embrace augmented reality in their industries.
Apple AR Kit and Google’s ARCore
Recently, the two mainstream giants have launched AR developer tools for the developer-communities; Google’s ARCore on Android and Apple’s ARKit on iOS.
Let’s first talk about ARCore which is Google’s augmented reality SDK for Android, out as a preview and launched as version 1.0. Originally made available for Google Pixel devices, ARCore is rolling out to 13 flagship smartphones of the most popular OEMs and which constitute over a 100 million Android smartphones worldwide. Google is also working with other OEMs to have the ARCore made available, which include brands like Huawei, Motorola, ASUS, LGE, Xiaomi, ZTE, Sony Mobile, HMD/Nokia, and Vivo.
The Android ecosystem is gigantic and the good news for Android developers is that now they can publish their AR apps in Google Play Store. The most modern cameras and sensors will support AR apps, making ARCore work on more devices in future, which will exponentially increase the number of Android’s ARCore users. More than two billion of people are estimated to be available on Android phones who will be able to use ARCore Apps.
Unlike Android, Apple has pushed itself directly into AR world by running ARKit’s apps on all the devices which have iOS 11 with an A9 or later processor. In this way, Apple has proven to have more users who can use AR apps without any fancy sensors or by investing money in purchasing latest devices. Nevertheless, Apple’s ARKit has created a momentum in AR world by providing developers and phone makers a better reason to pay attention and stay competitive on all ends. This can be justified with an ARKit supported app of Ikea which has changed the meaning of marketing and user shopping experience. The current number of iPhone users who can use AR Apps is estimated to be 700 million.
IKEA Place (ARKit App)
Ikea is a worldly popular brand known for its exclusive furniture. On an early stage of Augmented Reality, Ikea has tremendously used this technology to let customers preview how furniture looks on their smartphones before they make a purchase, thus making shopping less painful and hassle free.
The app called Ikea Place is one of the first apps to use Apple’s ARKit tech, to place the company’s furniture wherever they envision it in their homes.
In Ikea Place, customers can view 3-D renderings from different angles of over thousands of products which directs to the Ikea site to complete purchases. You can reposition everything and move closer or further away from them to view the scene from different angles.
Sony Magic Leap
Sony Magic Leap One is adding another dimension to computing. The Magic Leap One comprises of sleek light wear goggles, a palm-size processor worn at the waist, and a slim hand-held controller. It’s supposed to accept “various input modes such as voice, gesture, eye tracking and head pose”.
It enables new methods to shop and explore with three-dimensional objects by allowing web developers to optimize for content extraction and spatial browsing. Simply put; instead of sitting on a computer screen and browsing 2-D content, you can have 3-D content enabled for viewing and interaction.
It also brings a number of exciting features for gameplay, transporting you to a different reality by immersing you into the game environment and allowing you to interact with the characters in your digital reality. It allows for the opening of multiple screens anytime, anywhere, big or small and which you can then engage in at your convenience.
The Creator Edition will be released in 2018 and is targeting developers and early-adoption consumers who have massive expectations from the product. However, no pricing or specific release date has been set yet for the Magic Leap.
Future of Augmented Reality
There are numerous reasons which justify as to why Augmented Reality will be a future battleground. Let us take a look at a few predictions, to help us understand the long-term impact of AR and why it shall thrive in the coming days
- Adaptation of Augmented Reality in our lives
People are inclined to adapt to the technological changes which are feel natural and easy to use. This can be understood from the comment made by Michael Abrash at Facebook’s F8 developers’ conference, “Instead of carrying stylish smartphones everywhere, we’ll be wearing stylish glasses and these glasses will offer AR, VR, and everything in between, and we’ll wear them all day and we’ll use them in every aspect of our lives.”
- Social Media Platforms Incorporating Augmented Reality
In addition to tech giants like Google and Apple, social media platforms are also incorporating augmented reality into their platforms. For instance, Facebook has already pitched in augmented reality in Messenger App and is also working on AR Smart Glasses. The objective is to provide advanced features which can be widely and easily used in the tumultuous ecosystem which is social media. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has mentioned Augmented Reality as the next computing platform.
- Development in Marketing Sector
AR permits the creation of a three-dimensional thinking, which means that product advertisements shall jump out of the 2-D screens as a visual interactive-reality for the consumers. Imagine the customer experience when he/she will be able to try out products and purchase them without even walking into a fussy shopping store. Moreover, advertising companies can utilize Augmented Reality to interact and communicate with their clients “in-person”, and without any one person having to move anywhere.
- Massive increase in users of Augmented Reality
AR is recognized as an innovative and creative way of connecting people, and a significant number of online users are expected to embrace augmented reality as a next logical step. According to statistics, the number of augmented reality shipments have increased over the years and with future projected growths double to that number.
The mixed reality experiences will not only help businesses and their employees to accomplish crucial tasks efficiently, but also help the learners to acquire knowledge faster and safer. This will eventually open doors to an imaginary world where people can explore new things with the power of their imagination amalgamating with their reality.