Augmented Reality: A Game Changer Creating Immersive Experiences
Augmented Reality (AR) is becoming more ubiquitous. Instead of creating a virtual world (Virtual Reality), Augmented Reality turns the environment around you into a digital interface by placing virtual objects in the real world, in real-time to make it more meaningful.
In other words, this new technology blurs the line between the real and computer-generated worlds by providing sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or Global Positioning System (GPS) data.
According to IndustryARC findings
, North America dominated the overall Mobile Augmented Reality market in 2016, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific as second and third largest markets respectively. In Asia-Pacific, China and India are the fastest growing nations in the region. The countries are expected to succeed Europe and North America as the largest revenue contributors by 2021.
Presently, Google Glass and heads-up displays in car windshields are the most popular consumer Augmented Reality products, but the technology is used in a wide range of industries including consumer, aerospace & defense, medical, industrial, tourism, e-commerce and others.
Augmented Reality is generally experienced through gaming by creating immersive experiences that use the actual surroundings. Till-date, the best representative of AR gaming is Pokémon Go, a free-to-play game developed by US-based software company Niantic.
The technology can be used on all screens and connected devices, such as through smartphones and tablets, on PC and connected TV players and on head mounted displays and glasses. Some of the biggest examples of Augmented Reality devices are Rift, Microsoft’s HoloLens, HTC’s Vive and Google’s Tango.
Interestingly, Apple, which has a history of being late to join the party, has now joined the battlefield to demonstrate the future of computing.
Earlier in June this year at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference
(WWDC), Apple publicly revealed its plans to bring Virtual Reality to Mac, and Augmented Reality to iPad and iPhone. Whereas competitors like Facebook, Google and Microsoft unveiled their AR and VR plans at developer conferences earlier in the year.
During the event, Apple launched its ARKit that will help developers in creating augmented reality apps for the iPhone and the iPad, by combining digital objects and information with the environment.
In order to be first in the race, furniture and home goods chain Ikea has announced to incorporate AR technology into its catalogue app to enhance the shopping experience of users.
Shoppers will be able to visualize how different furnishings would look like in their home, just by pointing their smartphone camera at the suitable room.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek
, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We’ve talked to IKEA, and they have 3D images of their furniture line.
“You’re talking about changing the whole experience of how you shop for, in this case, furniture and other objects that you can place around the home. You can take that idea and begin to think this is something that stretches from enterprise to consumer.”
Similarly, American augmented reality company DAQRI has released an app that allows users to see a 3-D image of different body systems, giving medical students a powerful learning tool.
Meanwhile, Google's Tango devices allows users to see more of the world. Consumers just need to hold up their smartphone and watch as virtual objects and information appear on top of their surroundings. With Tango devices, users can measure their surroundings with 3D tools, then re-imagine them with virtual furniture and appliances.
Varjo, a Finnish start-up, led by former Nokia and Microsoft product managers, is trying to enhance the resolution of images for augmented-reality headsets. According to The Verge
, Varjo is planning to bring ‘human eye resolution’, which is expected to offer nearly 70 times clarity of current VR headsets.
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