Pokémon Go – a sensational augmented reality (AR) incorporated game – has taken the mobile app industry by storm. Ever since its launch back in 2016, the game is only increasing in popularity, with regular updates and a total revenue of $1.8 billion to date. It’s a great example of what augmented reality can achieve, especially in terms of how augmented reality games can look like – your favorite animated creatures can literally be popping out of your local grocery store. And it’s only just one of the very first.
You may have heard of recent WayRay’s announcement – a Swiss company that specialises in holographic AR displays for cars – and how it’s recently joined forces with Porsche, Hyundai Motor, Alibaba Group etc. in an attempt to diversify its product portfolio. Aiming to introduce augmented reality technology in different sectors, from transportation to smart glass for construction businesses, WayRay’s AR solutions seamlessly integrate virtual objects into the real world, in real-time.
So what’s the hype of AR all about?
What is “augmented reality”?
Let me break it down for you. AR uses immersive technology to blend software generated elements into the real world. A great pop-culture friendly example is Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit, a real classic in AR generated objects commingled in a real-life setting. That means that unlike the more common science-fiction depiction of “virtual reality” – which immerses you in an entirely fictional experience – augmented reality entails just building on to the reality that already exists around you. Many of its proponents say that it’s a mean of making people interact with the world around them in richer ways – and that could very well be true. Augmented reality is in some sense a way of transforming the way you perceive reality.
Putting cinematic depictions aside, AR is the next big thing with increased applications in healthcare, education, heavy machinery, visual arts and pretty much anything else that comes to mind. There’s in fact, an entire fledgling industry of augmented reality games and apps that are still in various stages of development.
To show exactly what we mean by how augmented reality can potentially transform the way you interact with the world, let’s discuss in more detail some of the ways augmented reality is already being implemented. These examples of augmented reality working out in different industries can show how, even beyond Pokemon Go, there’s an entire economy that’s set to transform with the introduction of this technology.
AR in Healthcare
Imaging technology has gotten popular in recent years, especially in the field of medicine. Using an optical head-mounted display to browse through details of the patient during surgery is proven to save precious time and reduce medical errors. Surgeons may browse through tremendous amounts of anatomical data concurrently and with ease. Google Glass, a pioneer in AR heads-up displays, flopped back in 2013 because it came ahead of its time. However, as innovation and breakthroughs in technologies take place, Augmented Reality is predicted to play a vital role in the OR.
Obtaining electronic medical records will also become hassle-free with AR. Nurses and doctors can assist patients while obtaining relevant records on their smart glass, in real-time, thus reducing time spent on each patient and increasing overall efficiency.
Moreover, this technology has immense potential in teaching medical trainees. Inexperienced doctors can practice on simulated patient encounters, without putting actual lives in danger. After all, we are not talking about dissecting dead frogs here… no offense to the frogs!
With a promising future in the world of healthcare, AR can pave the way for safer and more efficient medical practices in the not-too-distant future. The potential of using augmented reality-based apps to keep track of fitness, air quality, calorie count – it could be an endless list of gimmicks that can help improve the well-being of those who use such applications.
AR in Education
An interesting study by Neuro-Insight has revealed that the level of activity in the hippocampus almost triples when engaging with AR experiences compared to non-AR experiences.
With the ability to enhance the learning process and with the promise of making it more interactive, AR has the ability to take over conventional methods of teaching. Classrooms always seek to integrate both learning and creativity, and this is where this revolutionising technology can potentially come into play.
Companies like Blipper and Math alive are working on fantastic applications to increase student engagement within the classroom. For instance, Math alive will be introducing Student Journals which will assist students in learning essential math concepts with an interactive 3D AR experience.
And of course, it’s not just classrooms that will be affected – even distance learning is likely to be shaped by the introduction of augmented reality apps, ones that emphasize educational experiences instead. Imagine instead of walking around to find Pokemon in your neighbourhood, you’re instead receiving prompts about the historical events that have shaped it into what it is today. That would mean walking around a random London street could also become a journey through how the city’s neighbourhoods were affected by Nazi air raids during the Second World War. That’s just an idea – one history buffs are sure to one day use augmented reality for.
AR outside the classroom has a promising future as well. CASE – a Canadian tech company – transformed a local school gym wall into an augmented reality integrated ball game. Examples like these show that AR, if implemented properly, has a positive role to play in students’ ability to learn and grow.
AR in Construction/Heavy Equipment
Construction of heavy equipment is as heavy on the pocket, if not more. However, technological progress is shaping development costs, making prototyping, inspecting and testing equipment more cost effective and efficient.
You can now create 3D models and project them in different environments with ease, provided you have a good AR system in place. This can reduce construction and shipping costs drastically.
Caterpillar, a pioneer in manufacturing heavy equipment, demonstrates how augmented reality apps can be used to perform maintenance checks and servicing. This is especially helpful for inexperienced engineers. Moreover, AR headsets used at job sites can enable better safety for workers, with in-built sensors and warning signals.
In short, reduce the hassle, use AR.
AR in Gaming
Mobile games are perhaps the most popular platforms for AR technology today. From catching cute Pokémon characters to killing gruesome zombies, AR gaming has extended the playing field to the environment around us.
And guess what? It’s much more budget-friendly than VR gaming. You can play AR games on any portable console, tablet or smartphone without the need to buy expensive head-sets.
Zombies, Run! Available for both iOS and Android users, this immersive game takes you on a mission to survive a zombie attack on your city. Add-ons in the game don’t just include images, but sounds as well.
Just put on your earphones and wear your running shoes, this game is going to make you run around the city. Just be careful, don’t bump into a pedestrian, or get hit by a car!
AR may currently be just on its training wheels.
But once properly implemented, it’s going to expand into every avenue of life.
Sounds exciting right? As great as shared social spaces with immersive technology sound, this may not be all good news for us. With greater access to our lived reality, security and privacy concerns are bound to arise. Therefore, with technological progress, developers have a responsibility to incorporate ethical and safe practices.
“I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.” — Tim Cook
Fascinating, yet disconcerting.
|Augmented Reality can become an avenue for increasing customer engagement for all kinds of e-commerce. The creativity and immersion it involves can transform how consumers interact with products they haven’t unboxed or are inspecting online.||Augmented Reality is still a very expensive technology. Small-scale producers or market retailers are less likely to be able to afford supplementing their marketing tactics with AR experiences. This also limits the application of such technology in other fields, like health and education.|
|As it involves adding on to reality, AR also enhances the way users interact with the world around them – rather than detaching them from it.||As it involves providing data of a user’s location and activities in real-time, AR relies on a massive provision of personal data – and those concerned about their privacy may find this aspect of AR particularly unappealing.|
|In its applications in the medical industry, AR has been proven to be a means of screening patients with disease earlier in the medical check-up process.||As AR still relies on visualising data on screens, it’s likely to be just as harmful for one’s eye health as any other screen-time would be.|
|In its applications in the field of education, AR paves the way for fresher and even more interesting ways to teach students – and help the intellectually disabled.||Critics also say AR proponents overstate just how integrated AR is to reality – little evidence exists to indicate it won’t cause as much “detachment” as similar technologies.|
|For tourists, AR can give them a real-time sense of direction, and also provide them great previews for sights they hope to check out on their travels.||The expensiveness of the technology could exacerbate inequalities, as bigger companies (or more expensive private schools) could be the only outlets capable of affording such machinery.|