Augmented Reality

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Infinity Augmented Reality Concept Video

Contents

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is the superimposition of graphics, audio, or other sensory factors into the real world in real time[1]. In other words, it mixes the virtual world with the real world. In doing so, information and meaning is added to the experience of real objects.

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

Although similar, augmented reality should not be confused with virtual reality. Where augmented reality is the mixture of virtual and real, virtual reality deals primarily with the virtual world.

To look at it in more depth, one can analyze the mixed reality spectrum.

Mixed Reality Spectrum[2]

On the left is the real environment, or the real reality. Here nothing is computer generated. This is the part of the spectrum in which most of us live in. On the other side is the virtual environment, or virtual reality. In the virtual reality, everything is computer generated. Here a virtual world can be created in which a user can interact with the environment. Examples of virtual reality include Second Life and PlayStation Home.[2]

In the middle are two realities, augmented reality and augmented virtuality. Augmented means to add. Simply put, augmented reality means to add something into reality and augmented virtuality means to add something into virtuality. An example of augmented virtuality would be a iPad game of air hockey. The game itself is set in the virtual world. However one needs to add real hands to control the disk. On the other hand, an example of augmented reality is Google Glasses. The individual is in the real world. One can add context through the use of superimposed virtual images.[2]

As of today, augmented reality has found more success in the market; however, with the ever-changing dynamics of technology, it is difficult to predict which will come up on top in the long run.[3]

Who Uses It?

The use of augmented reality has increased since it’s first basic representation in 1957.[4] Individuals can be found all around using the technology. The use of the technology can seen to be used by various professions such as doctors using medical imaging, teachers using it for educational purposes, and many more. Not only do individuals use it as a complement to their professions, augmented reality has shown to be useful in everyday life situations. Average consumers can use augmented reality to see what they look like in certain clothing, to visualize how furniture would look like in their home, to enhance gaming experience, and many more as the development in the technology continues. In terms of business, companies have started to create augmented reality applications for other companies, a business that did not exist a twenty ago.

How is it Created?

How To Create AR

The basic premise of augmented reality is to mix reality with virtual reality. To do this you first need reality. Reality is simple to obtain. If you exist then you are surrounded by reality. Secondly, an augmented reality display device is needed. This could be a smartphone, a television screen or a projector that can display the augmentation to your senses. Next data is needed. This can be obtained locally or through the internet, with the Internet being able to access more data. Through the connection of the device and data, an application is used to produce augmented reality. The software needs to be able to recognize information from the outside world and gather the requested information to superimpose the information into reality. The premise is simple, but the technical skills needed to develop the software are not. In order to keep track and render the 3D images many factors need to be considered in real time such as various dimensionality factors, auditory depth, registration, and latency.[5]

History

History of Augmented Reality

1957 - Morton Helig builds Sensorama. A machine designed to produce a cinematic experience that appeals to all the senses. The machine was too expensive and as a result never made it to the commercial market.[4]

1966 - Ivan Sutherland developed a head-mounted display, a device in which its components are used in today’s augmented reality technology. The device was hung from the ceiling as it was too heavy to wear.[4]

1992 - Tom Caudell coined the phrase "Augmented Reality" while trying to develop virtual reality technology to help mechanics translate abstract diagrams in manuals. He created a software that overlayed light where certain cables went.[4]

1992 - LB Rosenberg creates first recognized functioning augmented reality system. The system (Virtual Fixtures) was used by US Air Force to help guide where fixtures should go.[4]

1992 - Knowledge-based Augmented Reality or Maintenance Assistance (KARMA) prototype system developed. The system superimposed a ghost image of a component to demonstrate how to load and service a printer.[4]

1994 - First theatre production to use augmented reality, “Dancing in Cyberspace”.[6]

1999 - ARToolKit release to the open source community. Used handheld devices with cameras and Internet connectivity to produce simple augmented reality.[4]

1999 - Early model of wearable systems for soliders, the Battlefield Augmented Reality System (BARS), began being developed.[6]

2000 - ARQuake, the first mobile augmented reality game is developed.[7]

2008 - First smartphone augmented reality app.[4]

2009 - ARToolkit is brought to the web browser with its port to Adobe Flash.[7]

2013 - Google announces Google Glasses, one of the more widely known augmented reality devices.[4]

Growth

Augmented reality is in the early adoptions stages of the technology adoption lifecycle. The technology is still fairly new as innovators are continuously looking for ways that augmented reality can be implemented. It may be due to the lack of marketing or the lack of benefits from the use of augmented reality, but the potential is present for the technology to be adopted by the early majority.

The growth in augmented reality has been driven by two main factors Internet connectivity and computer technology advancement. Due to the improvement in Internet connectivity, augmented reality devices have become more feasible. As real time information is needed with augmented reality, it is crucial to establish an Internet connection. With advancements in computer technology such as smartphones, it has become economically feasible to make augmented reality technology. Devices can now be made lighter and faster compared to its prehistoric versions where the devices were too heavy to carry.[8]

Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2014[9].

Based on the 2014 Gartner’s Hype Cycle, augmented reality is in the time frame of “Trough of Disillusionment” meaning the Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.

Display Devices

Skully AR-1 Motorcycle Helmet[10]

As mentioned, in order to produce augmented reality, a display device is needed. Two of the categories include head mounted display and non-head mounted displays.

Head Mounted Displays

Head mounted displays are more notability one of the first augmented reality display devices. The devices use an optical merging mechanism to combine reality and virtual images.[11] A common example of an a head mounted display are augmented reality glasses such as Google Glass.

With Google Glass, users wear them like a regular pair of glasses. On the glasses is a one-eyed display that superimposes images into the viewer’s eye. Since its inception, many augmented glasses have started to appear in the market. These include the Epson Moverio BT-200, Inforod, Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses and many more to come.[10]

Aside from augmented glasses, there are also augmented reality helmets. One example of this is the Reevu Motorcycle Helmet. The helmet acts like any normal helmet would, providing safety and aesthetic purposes. However, on top of the normal functions, it can also provide a view of the rear with its rear view camera. Other augmented reality helmets such as the Skully AR-1 Motorcycle Helmet and the DAQRI Smart Helmet provide further safety functions with its 360 degree vision feature.[10]

Non-Head Mounted Displays

Although being hands free maybe useful, wearing a head mounted display all the time may be impractical or unfeasible. In some cases it can be a distraction. To counter that issue, there are also non-head mounted displays. [11]

The most common non-head mounted display devices today are smartphones and tablets. Smartphones and tablets are portable and ever increasing light devices that can be used to augment reality. With its ability to connect to the Internet, it becomes more apparent to use smartphones and tablets as a device. To display augmented reality, one simply needs to download an application. Once downloaded, the user simply starts the application, and the display will produce the view of what the camera on the device sees. With the connection to the Internet, graphics or text will be superimposed onto the image of reality.

Another example of a non-head mounted display is monitors on fighter jets. In the cockpit, pilots are shown details such as airspeed to help better react to the situation.[11]

Consumer Uses

IKEA Advertisement
Project Tango
Word Lens (Translator)

Construction

During construction, augmented reality can be used to help management increase safety. This can be done by allowing management in real time to virtually view and monitor work through superimposed markers placed on equipment and parts being built. Augmented reality can also help match equipment with designated locations instead of using paper layouts.[1]

Design

Surprisingly, architects have been slow in regards to the adoption of augmented reality. Architects do use augmented reality; however, not in the way one would assume. Currently the tool is used for more marketing and presentation purposes.[2] This is a good step forward, as it allows potential investors a view of the product.

In terms of design, not only can individuals use it in a professional context but individuals can also use it in a household context as well. For example, IKEA developed an app in which individuals can view what a certain piece of furniture could look like in their living room.[3]

Education

Augmented reality can also be used in various ways in the classroom setting. It can enhance learning through interaction and additional context. In terms of interaction, it can provide a means to learn hands on task such as cooking, counting, scientific experiments, etc. In terms of additional context, users can use it to obtain more information on what they are reading. For example, while reading users might be linked to a video by the teacher.[4] During field trips to places like museums, students could also highly benefit from additional information superimposed.

Fashion

Although the graphical limitations are present, augmented reality is currently being used in the fashion industry. In terms of makeup, individuals can try them on through a computer display instead of having to use the same product another individual has used at a store. This can be highly advantageous due to hygienic concerns. In terms of clothing, individuals can try on shoes or other articles of clothing without having to go through the struggle of actually trying them on. [5]

Medicine and Health Care

Augmented reality has had a significant impact on the medicine and healthcare sector. It has had an impact in various aspects of health.[6]

Starting from basic training, augmented reality can help teach future doctors and surgeons. For example, the human body can be displayed with a 3D model which students can learn from. Not only can it be used to train students, but it can also be used to educate students. For instance, the Optometrist can show the patient how a specific condition will impact the user’s vision with a superimposed version.[6]

Augmented reality can also be used to help conduct surgeries. For example, it can help locate hard to find root causes of a disease or a particular vein.[6]

Lastly, on a more everyday life perspective, augmented reality can help manage fitness. For example, individuals wearing smart glasses can receive information they normally get from their smartphone application while doing the exercise superimposed in front of them instead.[6]

Military

Augmented reality has been used by the military for many years from training to operation missions. The two most common devices are the Heads-Up Display (HUD) and Head-Mounted Display (HMD). The HUD is used in fighter jets to provide pilots with information such as altitude, airspeed, and horizon line. The HMD can be attached to the soldier's helmet and present data such as enemy location.[7]

Shopping

Augmented reality can also be used to make shopping more efficient. One company leading the use of augmented reality in shopping is Google with Project Tango. The project help shoppers look for goods and find better deals. This is done through pop up superimposed graphics. On a side note, the project also integrates gamification, in terms of allowing the shopper to earn points while shopping.[8]

Sports

One of the more common uses of augmented reality is in sports telecasting. During replays, sports casters use augmented reality to show the “record line” and track the position of the ball and players.[9]

Travelling

Augmented reality can also be used while travelling. Some of the uses include city tours and finding restaurants based on location.[10] One notable usage is translators. By using a device such a smartphone hovering over a sign, the screen will present the user with the translations on the sign itself.[11]


AR Developers

Pokedex 3D Pro
Pepsi Advertisement

As augmented reality has become increasingly popular, many companies have emerged to develop augmented reality as a means of revenue. Some categories of augmented reality developers include platform companies, gaming companies and advertising companies.

Platform Developers

Platform developers provide clients with the toolbox needed to create their own augmented superimposition. Their product may be used by other companies to generate revenue through other means such as using the toolkit to create augmented advertising or augmented gaming. An example of a company in the current market is Qualcomm Vuforia, METAIO's SDK, and TotalImmersion.[1]

Game Developers

Game companies have also started showing interest in augmented reality and have started incorporating it in their products.[1] Augmented reality games can be found on big name gaming consoles such as Nintendo (ex. Pokedex 3D Pro) and Playstation (ex. PulzAR).[2] Augmented reality games can also be found on smartphones, such as simple games like Google's Ingress. [2]

Nintendo was one of the first big gaming companies to introduce augmented reality into its system, Nintendo 3DS. In each of the systems, the company packaged it with Augmented Reality Cards to accompany the Augmented Reality Games software on the system. Users would simply put an Augmented Reality Card on a surface and with the camera built into the Nintendo 3DS, a pop up image would appear on the screen. Although still basic, users are not only presented with a superimposed graphic on their desk, but with little mini games to introduce the concept on augmented reality to users. One simple game includes shooting targets that pop up. [3]

Since its inception, Nintendo has continued to develop games such as their Pokedex 3D Pro. Nintendo is known to be creative with its technology such as its dual screen on the DS and the tablet use on its Wii U. It will be exciting to see what the company can do with augmented reality in the near future.

Marketing Companies

Another means of using augmented reality is as a marketing tool. Large companies such as Pepsi and Coca Cola have been noted to successfully use augmented reality as a marketing tool. In general, whether as an external marketing company or internal department, augmented reality provides potential benefits that traditional marketing does not. However, at the same time, disadvantages can also be found.

In regards to benefits, augmented reality has the advantages of personalization, novelty, and socialization. In terms of personalization, augmented advertisement can react based on the surroundings. As for novelty, since augmented reality is still fairly new, most individual will find it interesting to see it the first couple of times. There is also the opportunity of socialization when individuals share their personalized content. [4] These claims can be supported simply by watching the Pepsi advertisement that used augmented reality. In it, the superimposed graphic was slightly personalized based on the surrounding. Pedestrian's interest were captured by the novelty and were given a means to socialize about what they saw.

As for disadvantages, augmented reality can potentially cause information overload. For example, an individual looking at a product could be bombarded with too much information on the item. [5]

As with any IT, it is up to the user to balance the pros and cons and utilize it in an efficient manner. One can see from the Pepsi commercial using augmented reality, if done right it can be used as a successful means of marketing.

Consumer Concerns

As with any IT, there are consumer concerns that rises when the technology enters the market. Some of the major concerns of augmented reality include the issue of privacy, the distraction it may cause, the health issues it leads to, the potential social detachment and the cost of purchasing the devices.

Privacy

With every technology and social media platform used today, privacy has always been an issue. Users using augmented reality devices are able to use geotags. Geotags allows the user to tag their location of where they are and what they are doing. By using geotags, people who view your image are able to see the items you have and where they are located. For example, if one were to purchase an expensive jewellery and to post it on a social media platform. With the use of geotag, a third party would be able to locate where the location is and perhaps steal the product. Although having geo tags are not the biggest concern caused by augmented reality, it does invade the privacy of others. [6]

Distraction

Augmented reality technologies has been shown to causes distraction to people. A popular augmented reality product, the eye-tracking gives rise to several problems. The eye-tracking “throws off our sense [as to] how we’re moving…”according to Eric Sabelman. For bikers who tend to use the eye-tracking, will have their vision blocked as they are riding their bike. This causes a distraction to them and may lead to accidents. Researchers have studied that the use of augmented reality has no effect on static images “in the corner of your eye if you are at a desktop, but it will present conflicting information if you are walking or driving”.[7]

Health

The initial use of products that use augmented reality causes motion sickness. This is due to the fact that augmented reality mixes both the virtual environment and reality together causing a sickness called “simulator sickness”. Simulator sickness is due to “the eyes rapidly [accommodating] to the images at a fixed location on the retina, rendering it invisible”. This causes the mind to be confused as the brain may interpret the movements happening around them as movements in the real-world.[7]

Social Detachment

Social media is said to cause some social detachment. With augmented reality, there is a fear that it will further affect the behaviour of individuals in our society. Some believe this will be the case as it allows users to further pay less attention to the real world. For example, in parties some individuals like to stay glued to their smartphones. By having augmented reality, users are provided with another mean to not socialize.[8]

Cost

The development of augmented reality is costly to produce, as the project “relys on specific or customized hardware and the mechanism that correlate data added by technology with the real world". Creating augmented reality products is expensive to develop and maintain; however, according to Moore’s law we can expect to see the cost of developing and purchasing decrease as years go by.[9] As the use of augmented reality products are relative new, the cost of producing is high and the cost of purchasing a product is expensive. For example the cost of Google Glasses cost $1500, a cheaper version of glasses can be purchased as low as $350 from Atheer.[10]

Development Challenges

As augmented reality is still fairly new, developers are still met with two crucial factors; latency and reliable power. As technology continues to improve, the impact of these challenges to developers will slowly decrease.

Latency

In order for augmented reality to feel authentic, developers need to develop it so that it responds quickly to reality in a short period of time and with no lag. The reason for this is that augmented reality needs to be staged where the person using the object moves their body and all the surroundings around the person become indistinguishable between the virtual world and the real world. Any lags that exceed 15ms, would cause the person to notice the difference in the world that they are in.[11]

Reliable Power

With augmented reality products, it requires a lot of power. More intensively compare to cell phones. Developers will have a difficult time producing a product with a long battery life without the need to recharge several times in a day. New released mobile devices currently have difficulties developing a battery that lasts for a long period of time. This a challenge that developers have when creating products.[11]

Ethical Concerns

HIMYM - Potential AR Future

Augmented reality raises many ethical concerns. Like with any tool, it is up to the user to choose whether to use it for good or bad. However, if the bad becomes the social normal, does it become acceptable?

Privacy

Augmented reality is most efficient when used in combination with the Internet. The Internet is not only a source of educational information, but also personal facts. In theory, augmented reality can potentially provide personal information of an individual to the user through their device. This could range from information on the web such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. On a more darker note, this could also display embarrassing photos or videos of an individual or newspaper articles regarding a rape victim. One could argue that this information could have been accessed on the Internet at any time, but its a lot different when its hovering over ones head in the eyes of an augmented reality user.

Filtering

Google and other search engines are known to filter information based on a number of factors. As augmented reality relies on the Internet to provide the superimposed information, the potential filter bubble problem will extend from the home and work setting, to everyday life setting for users of augmented reality.

Cheating

Although not a major concern yet, once augmented reality is developed to the point where it is unnoticeable, such as being integrated into everyday eye glasses or contact lenses, cheating can be a potential problem. Answers can easily be superimposed into an individual's field of view. Stopping cheating with augmented reality should be possible. However, the main question will be what amount of work will be needed to prevent and pin point its usage.

Future

Augmented Reality is steadily increasing in popularity. Several companies have used the idea of augmented reality when advertising to their audience and products have been developed. Although augmented reality is currently at the trough of disillusionment according to the Gartner Hype Cycle, this technology will not fade away anytime soon. The use of augmented reality will continue to exist to the slope of enlightenment.[1]

The exciting aspects of augmented reality is what it can achieve for humans rather than the exterior parts and hardware. The goal of augmented reality is not to replace reality but to allow people to immerse themselves in a virtual world. Augmented reality allows people to see the real world with an enhanced view by adding a touch of virtual reality to it.

Potential Future

Current Projects

Windscreen Concept

In Iron Man, Tony Stark uses augmented reality to navigate through the city in his transportation suit. Although society has yet to have the technological ability to develop a fully functional suit, we are getting closer to developing something similar to Iron Man's helmet. Automobile companies such as Jaguar are currently developing a new "virtual windscreen concept".[2]

As shown in Jaguar's reveal, the windshield can be used for various purposes. It can be used for gaming purposes. As the windshield can produce a "ghost car", the driver can potentially race the "ghost car" in the real road, hopefully in authorized locations. The windshield can also help teach drivers how to drive with road pylons and produce information such as vehicle speed.[2]

Homemade Goods

Like any IT, augmented reality can be combined with other technological advances to be used in new ways. Such is the case with augmented reality and 3D printing. Similar to Iron Man, Tony Stark used augmented reality to design his suit before he built the actual machine. By doing so, it provided more insight and a faster development time compared to the traditional 2D methods. Currently, developers are creating augmented reality software to be used with 3D printers in a way that lets users view their good before it finishes.[3]

Contact Lenses

Although not fully developed, some developers are starting to develop augmented reality contact lenses. This could have all the capabilities of Google Glass, without the highly visible glasses frames that have lead people to being beaten up.[4] However, this is not expected to be fully functional anytime soon due to the potential lack of reliable power.

Augmented reality still has a long ways to go before it will be on the same level as those found in the Iron Man universe. However with the current projects out there today, the potential prospect seems positive.

References

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Future
  2. 2.0 2.1 Strange, A. (2014, July 14). Jaguar Concept Windshield Shows Off Augmented Reality in the Car. "Mashable." Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2014/07/14/jaguar-augmented-reality/
  3. Milkert, H. (2014, May 23). New Holographic Augmented Reality for Previewing Your 3D Prints. "3DPrint." Retrieved from http://3dprint.com/4272/holographic-3d-print-preview/
  4. Statt, N. (2014, January 3). Augmented-reality contact lenses to be human-ready at CES. "CNET." Retrieved from http://www.cnet.com/news/augmented-reality-contact-lenses-to-be-human-ready-at-ces/
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