Within the field of virtual reality, augmented reality has a special place in the world of emerging technologies. In recent years, little by little augmented reality has crept into our lives, however, for the moment we have only witnessed a few of them but it seems that virtual reality might be closer than we think and we will probably use it on our daily life.

From Google Glass to the ‘’Pokemon Go’’ phenomenon, augmented reality not only targets applications for leisure, but also can be used in important environments such as medicine. But before getting into some examples of augmented reality, let’s have a general look at it.

What is augmented reality and how does it work?

Augmented reality is a special way of seeing things, which is carried out through a technological device, and the elements of the physical world are combined with virtual elements that the device provides depending on the interaction of the user with the environment.

As we said earlier, bear in mind that augmented reality is not the same as the popular virtual reality. Virtual reality completely replaces the user’s visual field with a virtual world created by the device, whereas augmented reality maintains the user’s physical visual field and adds virtual elements.

Another key element of augmented reality is that it not only replaces the user’s physical and visual reality, but that it is a very important part of the device’s operation. Thus, it works depending on the user’s interaction with the real world. That is why it is called “augmented” reality; because it is not meant to replace the information we have of the physical world but to increase or ‘’augment’’ it.

The origin of the term “augmented reality” is attributed to Boeing researcher Tom Caudell, who wrote a paper in 1992 and who coined the term and made it popular. Another definition of the term was thought by Ronald Azuma in 1997, who thought that it was based on three basic characteristics: it combines real and virtual elements, it works in 3D and it is registered in real time.

There are different types of devices

To experience augmented reality you can use multiple mechanisms, but there are two of them that are very important to mention:

-The “Headset” (virtual glasses) is a device that is placed on the user’s head, either an eyepiece or glasses, and it projects the virtual elements on the glass, which is used as a screen. It is an easy and simple way of integrating augmented reality to our world; the virtual information provided by the device depends on the head movements of the person who is using it, so that it is correlated with the eyesight.

-The handheld screen: Whether mobile phone, tablet, or devices manufactured in order to support augmented reality, the screen shows an image of the real physical world and it is that same screen which integrates virtual elements of augmented reality.

Although the eyepiece or headset connects the person better to augmented reality, it will probably be more used in portable screens. Why is that? Undoubtedly, because portable screens are in all of our devices which we already use on a daily basis, such as mobile phones.

Some examples of augmented reality

Although technology is still under development, augmented reality has already found a solid place for some applications, and even in some cases for commercial use. These are some of the best-known examples.

– Google Glass

Google Glass, introduced in 2012 by Alphabet (former Google), are small and light glasses, which allow the integration of some functions of the mobile phone and voice commands. Thus, they can be used to move around the city – like a “virtual street” -, or to take pictures or videos of anything the user sees.

– Microsoft Hololens

Hololens are augmented reality glasses created by Microsoft that allow user interaction with high-definition holograms. Especially intended for video games – at least for now – hololens offer experiences like turning your living room into a videogame where you have to destroy an invader robot.

– Pokemon Go

It was a social phenomenon in the summer of 2016, it is a video game developed by Niantic Inc. and distributed by the Japanese brand Nintendo, which incorporates augmented reality elements in handheld devices. Pokemon Go integrates various virtual characters into real-world locations for the user to interact through their mobile phone or tablet.

The future of augmented reality

As we said earlier, augmented reality is becoming more and more powerful little by little but it is not yet used on a daily basis, augmented reality is a technology that is still in the making. In fact, even some of the products we have seen are still in the making and some of the features still need to be improved.

Probably one of the most immediate goals of augmented reality is to replace the mobile phone, so it becomes a portable reference device. Combined with voice and audio commands, an augmented reality mechanism could definitely free the user’s hands by integrating it more with the device.

When will we see this? When will it happen? Are we actually going to witness this? It is still too early to say, but a lot of people use their mobile phones very often so it would not be surprising that a lot of people could be caught up in the crazy world of augmented reality that Keiichi Matsuda imagines in his short clip Hyper-Reality

Will we see something like this in the short or medium term? Will we walk the streets running into each other, caught up in a world of colour and infinite information? Will accident rates increase beyond imaginable or will we be able to give augmented reality a more rational use?

What do you think? We are looking forward to hearing your opinions. Do you think this will happen anytime soon? Let us know, you can share your opinions with us by leaving a message in the comment section, which is right below.
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