By the book
Augment: to make greater, more numerous, larger, or more intense.
Reality: the quality or state of being real.
Augmented Reality: an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera)
[definitions from the Merriam Webster Dictionary]
Augmented Reality is one of the fastest growing technologies of 2019. This tech uses graphics, sounds and touch feedback to add to (augment) our natural world, thus creating an enhanced end-user experience.
Although somewhat still in it’s infancy, Augmented Reality is taking existing “natural” data, such as a video or photo, and adding “features” to the natural source, such as sound or additional detail – graphics, sounds and/or touch feedback. Snapchat filters are an example of simple Augmented Reality usage. (click here for a fun example of how Snapchat is using Augmented Reality in its filters)
Augmented Reality (AR) vs Virtual Reality (VR)
Unlike Virtual Reality, which requires you to inhabit an entirely virtual environment, Augmented Reality uses your existing natural environment and simply overlays virtual information on top of it. As both virtual and real worlds harmoniously coexist, users of AR experience a new and improved natural world where virtual information is used as a tool to provide assistance in everyday activities as well as entertainment.
While both AR and VR have benefits, AR is becoming the preferred medium, as it enhances reality, rather than replacing it. AR is accessible. It is easy to experience. It is easy to use. It is applicable to every day life (see this great post about 5 Augmented Reality Usages that Solve Real Life Problems).
Beyond the games
While Augmented Reality is currently primarily used in apps like Snapchat and Pokemon Go!, it is positioned to rock the world and bring positive changes to everyday lives. Below is a list of 8 general areas in which AR is currently being used and refined. As the abilities of AR grow, so will the impact in these and many other fields!
Health – Surgeons are using AR to overlay possible outcomes during the procedures. AR is especially promising in the area of rehabilitation.
Education – AR sensory overlays can provide vital input to learners of complex tasks and subjects. This is especially useful for learners who benefit from multiple learning approaches.
Safety, Rescue & Military – From fire departments using AR technology to better understand how buildings are structured in real-time to search and rescue teams using drones that overlay AR to provide greater situational awareness and information vital to successful response, the uses of AR in the well-being of society are just beginning to be discovered.
Mapping/Exploring – Whether it’s exploring an urban center of the great outdoors, AR enables us to experience ahead of time or in real-time.
Task Assistance – AR has the ability to help you with tasks, such as car repair and basic plumbing repair. The technology enhances basic video by highlighting points of importance and giving real-time feedback.
Travel – As the AR cloud builds, so will the experiences available to you from the comfort of your couch. You will soon be able to have the interactive experience of traveling to far-away lands without the cost.
Cooking & Restaurant Experience – As the technology advances, so will the gadgets that can be used with it. Appliances that are AR-enabled are coming on the market and will give you guidance in your cooking. Restaurants are using simple AR to give you enhanced 3D visuals of your food before it is served.
Beauty & Style – Already a common use of AR, the beauty and style industries are making use of the technology to enable the end-user to view how makeup, hairstyles, clothes, etc. look without the need to purchase.
Business or Pleasure
Whether for business or pleasure, Augmented Reality is emerging as an integral part of our daily lives. While there are sure to be issues of security and consistency as the AR world evolves, it is also destined to change our lives in ways that we cannot yet imagine.
“Well we believe that augmented reality is one of those new mediums that could be as big as if not bigger than the web. One of the areas where consumers adopt something new is when it makes something drastically easier. When I think about augmented reality I think about instances like finding your way somewhere, finding your friends in a stadium, or going to a conference and looking around and knowing who everyone is because their LinkedIn profile is hanging over their heads.” — Scott Belsky (Forbes)