Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory. The overlaid sensory information can be constructive (i.e., add to the natural environment) or destructive (i.e., mask the natural environment). AR is related to two largely synonymous terms: mixed reality and computer-mediated reality. These terms are used to describe a range of similar technologies and research disciplines that often involve the use of a headset or some form of wearable computing device.
What are the possibilities of augmented reality?
The possibilities of augmented reality are vast and varied. From improving the way we learn and work, to enhancing our everyday lives, augmented reality has the potential to change the way we live and interact with the world around us.
- Education: One of the most exciting potential applications for augmented reality is in education. Imagine being able to learn about a subject by interacting with it directly, rather than just reading about it in a textbook. With augmented reality, students could explore historical events as if they were really there, or study the human body in a way that is not possible in a traditional classroom setting.
- Work: Augmented reality also has the potential to change the way we work. Imagine being able to see data and information overlaid on the physical world around you. This could revolutionize the way we interact with machines, and make working in hazardous or difficult environments much safer. AR could also be used to improve the efficiency of tasks that are currently done manually, such as assembly line work or warehouse inventory. It could be used to provide workers with real–time information about where specific items are located in the warehouse, as well as which items need to be picked up and delivered to which locations. This would allow workers to work more quickly and efficiently.
- Everyday life: Finally, in our everyday lives, augmented reality has the potential to enhance the way we interact with the world around us. Imagine being able to see directions, information about nearby businesses and landmarks, and even social media updates superimposed over the real world. This would make navigation in unfamiliar places much easier, and help us to make better informed decisions about the world around us.
What are the challenges of augmented reality?
AR technology is still in its early stages and there are many challenges that need to be addressed. Some of the challenges of AR include:
- Economic: The cost of developing and deploying augmented reality technology can be prohibitive for many businesses. The hardware required to support AR applications can be expensive, and the content creation process can be very time consuming and requires specialized skills.
- Technical: Creating a seamless AR experience can also be challenging from a technical perspective. AR applications must be able to accurately track and overlay digital content on the real world in a way that appears natural to users. This can be difficult to achieve, particularly in outdoor environments where there are more variables to account for such as lighting, shadows and reflections.
- Privacy and security: Finally, AR technology can raise privacy and security concerns, as it has the potential to collect and store personal data about users. AR applications could also be used to carry out malicious attacks, such as by displaying fake or misleading information.
As you can see from the examples given above, the possibilites for usefull AR applications are seemingly endless. Now it is important to overcome the challenges that still stand in the way of the mass adoption of this exciting technology, so we can pave the way to an augmented future.
Written by Luis Kalckstein