Pokémon and Microsoft Hololens have leveraged augmented reality. But what is it, and how does it differ from VR?
1. What is AR?
Augmented Reality, augmented reality, is not the same as virtual reality VR. VR is about giving you the feeling of being somewhere completely different. With a VR helmet/googles, your entire field of view is filled by another world and with headphones, you hear sounds connected to that world. Instead, AR is about adding information and virtual objects in the real world you see around you. It can be anything from mobile games (Pokémon) to glasses you wear that show advanced real-time information about your surroundings.
2. How does AR work?
The technology for AR requires a processor, camera, display and different types of sensors depending on what the field of application should be. For example, gyro is needed to read movements in the unit being used, an accelerometer to read speed, GPS for the position, internet connection and more.
3. Brand-based AR
Brand-based AR means that an app in, for example, your mobile can read specific brands, say a barcode. When the app finds the barcode, a 3d model is placed on top of it. By knowing where the mobile is in relation to the barcode, you can look at the 3d model through the mobile, but also walk around it and look from all directions. Other examples of this technology are the Nintendo 3DS.
4. Position-based AR
There are many AR apps based on the position of your mobile phone. It works so that when you hold up your phone and point in some direction, the GPS feels: one of where you are and a gyro knows which way you are looking. Then information can be displayed related to this. An example of such an app is the Sky Scanner which shows the zodiac signs and planets around you based on which way you look.
5. How is AR controlled?
Various methods are used to control AR applications. You can usually control mobile apps with your fingers or by touching your phone. Voice control is also a technology that is getting better and better. More futuristic methods are the use of gestures and finger movements, something that, for example, Microsoft is working on for their upcoming AR glasses Hololens.
6. Different types of units for AR
With powerful hardware and with the fact that gyro, GPS, accelerometer, and more are now found in all mobile phones and tablets, plus that they are portable, these have become particularly attractive to the technology. But experiments are also made with different types of glasses. Among other things, Google produced Glasses, but abandoned the project. Now Microsoft is working on a pair of advanced AR glasses (more on them below). Research is also underway with AR in contact lenses and car windows.
It is experimenting well with AR right now and several different potential uses have emerged. Some of these are: Architects can use the technology to visualize construction projects. Doctors can practice on virtual patients, or look into the patient without surgery. Tourists could benefit from the technology by getting information about things around them in cities they don’t know. Translations can be simplified by translating signs or converting speech into subtitles. Sports hosts are already using AR in TV broadcasts to clarify what is happening, or to display advertising on the pitch.
Microsoft Hololens are a pair of AR glasses that will blend VR elements with reality. And it seems to be as cool as possible (see movie above)! During demonstrations, Microsoft has shown how you can do everything from playing Minecraft to your kitchen table, to interactive manuals on how to pair things at home and watch movies on a virtual screen that can be almost any size. At the same time as you work in a virtual word document that you place anywhere in the room.