Augmented reality, the next big thing in mobile development May 27, 2019

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Augmented reality can solve problems, add worth and increase the user experience in almost every industry. Companies all over the world are catching on and adding augmented reality to their investments, which makes it a key part of the tech economy. But what is augmented reality? And how is it going to effect us in the future? 

What is augmented reality (AR)? 

Although there could be some confusion between augmented reality and virtual reality, but it’s simple when broken down. Augmented reality is creating new information on top of a existing environment. A way of layering digital experiences onto our analog world. Imagine going to a store, wanting to buy a new dress but you’re not in the mood to take off all the layers you’re wearing. Augmented reality has a solution for that – try the dress on virtually. Quick, easy and you will have more time left to do other fun stuff. Another example is the IKEA app. When IKEA launched the augmented reality app in September 2017, many people responded enthusiastically. The app helped customers try out furniture in their own home before buying it. 

A timeline 

It has been around for longer than most people realize. In 1968, a computer scientist Ivan Sutherland invented “The Sword of Damocles”. It featured a head-mounted display that hung from the ceiling. The user could experience the graphics as if they were in the same environment as them. The unit was partially see-through, so the users were not completely cut off from reality. 

The term itself made its debut in 1990, when enigineers at Boeing tested augmented reality headset to visualize wiring instructions. “A person working in an industrial setting has a lot of distractions and a lot of data to process. Traditionally technicians had to look and interpret a two-dimensional twenty-foot-long drawing and construct that image in their mind. By using augmented reality technology, technicians can easily see where the electrical wiring goes in the aircraft fuselage” said Brian Laughlin, IT Tech Fellow. 

The first big public event was the reveal of  Google Glass (a brand of smart glasses) in 2013. It proved that AR could be a product used by the general public. Google claimed at the time that they were refocusing on various work contexts – like healthcare, construction and manufacturing. The product wasn’t a succes, but since that moment Google and its partners solved a number of the bugs and design flaws and developed faster and more capable goggles. 

Nowadays, the average smartphone supports AR apps. One of the most succesful examples is the game app “Pokemon GO”. Pokemon Go has become an instant viral smash. More than 20 milion people per day used the app in 2016. The mobile game uses the camera and lets the users interact with their immediate surroundings. Although the majority of people use augmented reality in gaming and entertainment, it is a huge step forward for militarym healthcare, education, retail , tourism and many more. The list of companies already taking on the technology is endless. 

Augmented reality holds an immense potential when it comes to user experience and personalization. A personal experience of a product is more engaging than a normal old school photo or video. It can become the best choice of promotion to many modern day marketers. People can now visualize the product in 3D, which is a significant benefit. 

How does it work? 

The computer vision uses a certain range of data (images, video, 3D models), then the program puts labels onto the surface. The process happens every time the user holds the camera in front of the location. So for augmented reality to start working the camera must be capable enough to figure out what they are seeing and further recognize it, you can describe it as a “scanning” process. The scanning process creates a database of shapes and corners.  

AR can be created in different forms. For example, Google Glass displays 2D images, whilst Hololens from Microsoft displays 3D images into the reality around you. 

The future possibilities of AR 

 

The possibilities of AR are endless, but the integration of it in regular activities hasn’t yet moved far. Two major players at this moment are Apple and Google. In recent development Apple released ARKIT 2, the biggest AR platform in the world. AR apps can be experienced by multiple users simultaneously. 

Eventually, the growing need for 3-D visualization is expected to create lucrative opportunities for the market. The technology can be used for many different purposes. Augmented reality will catch on and will go even further than we can ever imagine. 

If you are someone looking for mobile developers who can help you with introducing AR to your application then feel free to contact us at hr@flowpilots.com. We are more than open to sit down and talk about your vision and wishes. 

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© Martyna Majchrzak 

© Photo by Daniel Frank