Technology that integrates virtual reality with the real world is what defines Augmented Reality (AR). Live video imagery, with digitally enhanced computer graphics, being displayed through a mobile device or luminous goggles, are typically the modern day representation of AR. Augmented Reality, unlike Virtual Reality, is not about creating a completely new reality, it’s about enhancing what already exists.
Virtual Reality appliances such as the Oculus Rift, create a brand new reality through the headset, which while being visually pleasing, doesn’t allow the users to have a physical experience with the product. Augmented Reality, like Virtual Reality, must be able to add real personal value to the products in order for the technology to become popular. Microsoft is exceeding the expectations of Augmented Reality with their product, HoloLenses. The technology of the HoloLenses is Tony Stark-esque as it shows 3D interactive holograms on your display. In other words, it can put someone in the room with you, just as if they are teleporting to your display via hologram. You can see this technology in action for yourself by clicking on the following link. The first functional AR system was the ‘Virtual Fixtures System’ that was a mixed reality machine developed by the U.S. Air Force. Although this was the first functioning system, the first significant AR breakthrough occurred in the Fall of 1998.
ESPN’s coverage of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals-Baltimore Ravens game on September 27th, 1998, changed Augmented Reality in ways they never would have expected. Sportsvision created 1st & Ten, a computer system that creates and displays a yellow depiction of the first down line for the viewer to see on any NFL, NCAA, and CFL broadcast. This simple yet groundbreaking feature has led to significant technological advances in Augmented Reality that are used in a various number of industries. The late Albert Einstein once said, “Genius is making complex ideas simple, not making simple ideas complex” which directly defines this original adaptation of Augmented Reality.
The 1st & Ten system paved the way for this technology to be applied to the military with devices such as the Heads-Up Display (HUD) and the Head-Mounted Display (HMD). Just as the 1st and Ten system displays a yellow line on all televisions, the HUD is a transparent visual display that enables the pilot to view critical data such as the horizon line, airspeed, and altitude. The same concept is used in the militaries HMD, which gives ground troops access to critical data such as enemy location and distance. These Augmented Reality displays helped give future companies the motive to embed this technology within their products.
Snapchat reigns supreme when it comes to pioneering Augmented Reality into social media apps. With an already simplistic concept of capturing video and pictures, they use AR to enhance the user’s experience by assimilating filters, projecting objects, and displaying information such as time, speed, and location onto objects in the real world. Android is in the stages of developing a fully operational GPS system with AR technology that would allow users see their selected route/destination over the live view of what’s actually in front of the car. Facebook has a similar form of technology to Snapchat when it comes to uploading static filters over pictures and videos, but they progressively enhance Augmented Reality in terms of social media.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees three areas for perfect AR experiences, which are overlaying information, adding virtual objects, and enhancing real objects. Zuckerberg is building a developer platform which is completely open, so unlike Snapchat keeping their platform to themselves, Facebook is granting open access, which will not just create 10 or 20 effects, but thousands. So while Facebook receives blatant disrespect for supposedly ‘stealing’ Snapchat’s ideas and technology, they are laying down the groundwork for what will be an extremely immersive and unique platform. It goes without saying that Snapchat’s and Facebook’s AR is impressive and fashionable in the eyes of the consumers, but what these companies have as a whole, cannot even rival what Selfeo can do. If GEM were to use Augmented Reality in Selfeo, it could easily be applied just as the current state of AR is used in Snapchat and Facebook. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Yes, filters and interactive objects are pleasant and would be spectacular on Selfeo, but the multi-screen technology combined with Augmented Reality could be a game changer.
Technology is expanding at an alarmingly fast rate. With daily innovations taking place at a staggering pace, it’s only a matter of time before AR is a normality in our current society. The truth is, there’s no ceiling for Augmented Reality. In fact, it’s something that can be applied to virtually any situation with the impact of pure simplification. Imagine a Neurosurgeon with a 3D holographic brain on top of the patient’s actual anatomy, an architect with a three dimensional interactive bridge or building structure. Even a retail store with an AR mirror that could allow the customers to “try on” their products without having to waste material could be so useful. The ironic thing is, some of those products are already in development today. Yes, Augmented Reality is a superior and advanced form of technology but it simplifies everything to an atomic level. A Titan is defined as a person or thing of enormous size, strength, power, and influence, and that is where this technology is headed. The future of Augmented Reality is an unknown phenomenon that will certainly push the limits of technology, as it barely scratches the surface of its capabilities.
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