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Digital Themes

Augmented Reality (AR)

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented reality (AR) combines a real-world environment with digital objects, which are typically rendered in 3D, though some applications also use 2D. The digital objects appear in real space as an overlay. AR objects can be manipulated within an AR program or game. AR creates interactions using a camera or smartphone. AR uses real world object locations to generate these interactions.

Augmented reality (AR) differs from virtual reality (VR) because it uses real-world and digital objects to create an altered version of reality. Virtual reality (VR) is a fully immersive experience within a simulated environment. VR also requires more specialized equipment than AR.

Augmented reality is, perhaps, best known for it use in video games and retail shopping experiences. Commercial use of augmented reality is commonly found in multiple sectors that include defense, education, manufacturing, and medical. AR based training offers a way for trainees to manipulate real-world objects, such as machinery parts, while also having quick access to additional information about the item.

Consumer products that use AR overlay a digital world onto the real world to create a new, interactive space. PokemonGo is among the first successful augmented reality games. Shopping apps use AR to help shoppers see how an item might look in their own space. For example, Ikea Place, Amazon shopping, Home Depot, and Ulta all use augmented reality to show a digital version of a product in real space. In the case of Ulta, shoppers can use the virtual try-on VR feature to see how makeup might look before buying.

Heads-up display is an AR application that is frequently portrayed in science fiction films. Onscreen information is displayed right on a car or airplane windshield during operation. Car makers are working on consumer applications of this technology for release in future models.

What are the benefits of Augmented Reality?

  • AR has been used for teaching and exploration of historical sites. Visitors typically do not have the opportunity to explore sites beyond public exhibitions. AR can bring these sites into view for the public.

  • AR is used in architecture and construction to show clients a rendered version of renovations or other structural modifications in the real space from a tablet computer or through other mobile devices. AR has also been helpful after major disasters that caused building destruction – city planners and engineers could visualize missing blocks of buildings and better evaluate damage to them.

  • AR in STEM education has been used to teach engineering concepts, visualized molecules, and the systems of the human body.

  • AR in healthcare is being used for patient monitoring and surgical assistance. AR has been used to present an accurate 3D view of blood vessels surrounding a broken bone during surgery.

  •  AR has been used in manufacturing to monitor processes and system performance maintenance across the product lifecycle.

  • AR improves geolocation navigation systems by helping users orient themselves in real space.
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