A Guide to Augmented Reality
There is an abyss between the abundance of digital information and the material world where it can be applied. The material world has three dimensions and data is usually limited to two dimensions of pages and displays. Such a break between the material and the digital worlds makes it difficult to get the most out of the accessible information. Augmented reality solves this problem by adding digital data and pictures to real objects. By providing information in a convenient form at the right time, AR helps to comprehend and use this information quicker.
Origins of Augmented Reality
AR originated recently, but has almost become mainstream by far! There’s an estimation which says in 2020, spending on AR will reach $ 60 billion, and this technology will affect all sectors of the economy and different establishments — from academies to NGOs. Imminent, it will alternate the processes of education, decision making, and interaction. Companies will assist consumers, train personnel, manufacture goods, administer value chains and compete in a completely different way.
AR will be a first-hand interface between man and machine, a bond that ties digital and the material worlds. Companies such as Facebook, Google, GE as well as the US Navy are now using it and they see a powerful gain in quality and performance. But the main directions of augmented reality use are advertising and media. When dealing with a brand, the highest degree of success is a strong emotional bond between the product and the buyer.
AR is the utmost powerful tool that can produce a wow effect that unmistakably allows consumers to interact with the aim of their desires. Actually, AR turns datasets and analytics into pictures or animation, superimposing them on the physical world. Currently, AR works most often via mobile devices, nonetheless gradually the emphasis will swing to wearable devices — e.g., smart glasses or helmets.
Classification of AR
Marker-based AR. Sometimes it is called image recognition since in this case for scanning are required a particular graphic item and a camera. It can be whatever from a QR-code to unique characters. Sometimes AR device additionally computes the location and alignment of the marker to place content. Therefore, the marker introduces digital animations for viewing by users, as a result of which images can transform into three-dimensional models.
Location-based AR. Based on AR that uses gyroscope, GPS, accelerometer, compass to deliver information based on the user’s location. This information then regulates which AR content you discover or receive in a specific region. When used in a smartphone, this category of AR usually creates guidelines and maps, together with data on proximate companies. Apps involve events and data, pop-up advertisements, navigation help.
Projection AR. This category uses the projection of artificial light onto material superficies, and in certain cases makes possible communication with it. These are the holograms that we all saw in science fiction films similar to Star Wars. Technology determines the user contact with the projection based on its changes.
AR Overlays. In this case, there is a full or partial replacement of the original vision by the augmented one. Object recognition performs the main role here, without it the entire thing would not be possible. An instance of overlaid AR is the IKEA application, which lets clients put virtual objects from a furniture list in their apartments.
Augmented Reality Hardware
The standard of designing augmented reality is determined by the technical means of the devices by which it is implemented. The devices for AR may be the following:
- Mobile devices – tablets and smartphones
- AR glasses
- PC or TV screens
- Microsoft Kinect type controller
- Devices for AR in open space
- Special devices: diverse trainers, health equipment, etc.
The common procedure of AR creation to the utmost is next: the optical scanner (camera) of the device reads (scans) the image of a physical item; device’s software performs identification and examination of the received image, chooses or computes the visible add-on correlating with the image, combines the real image with augmented part and shows the final image on the visualization device.
Their practical use in the AR domain is entertaining or promotional purposes. The phone’s (tablet’s) camera transfers the taken image to a special program that the user pre-downloads to the device. When analyzing an image, the program distinguishes this image, picks the content related to this image (3D model, text, video) and puts it in the background of the image from the camera.
For instance, when you hover your phone over an advertisement in a magazine, on the phone screen you see a three-dimensional image of the product that this advertisement is promoting. Some programs for reproducing this kind of AR have a function to control this object — scaling, turning, and playing audible signals when touching different parts of it). The potential of AR visualization is determined by the resourcefulness of the programmers.
Augmented Reality Glasses
These are just computer glasses. A person who has put on such glasses sees the real world through transparent lenses together with virtual objects overlaid on it. The AR glasses have a built-in technique that tracks the movement of the eyes, and software that combines the virtual and real images allows you to create the illusion of a panorama view. For example, ancient castles can be built into the real urban landscape and depending on the turn of the head (glance), a person sees different parts of such an augmented landscape. An example of such glasses is the Microsoft HoloLens device.
TV or PC Screen
Usually used for broadcasting sports matches, for example. The video signal, before going on air, is passed through special software that overlays any video information on the picture. The viewer sees the already modified video signal, which contains a real and computer image. And often he does not even realize that he sees augmented reality. It is clear that the television signal on-air goes with some delay necessary for computer signal processing. This technique is often used during sports matches for drawing on the real picture of digital marks and lines showing the distance to the gate, off-side and goal analyzation, etc.
Microsoft Kinect Type Controller
Kinect is a game controller that works with a computer or game console. The controller includes a video camera that allows the software to analyze the surrounding space, the position, and the gestures of the player. The equipment also includes two infrared depth sensors and a microphone. The software receives a three-dimensional image and calibrates the sensors based on the level of illumination and environmental conditions, conducts recognition of facial expressions, voice, body movement. Thus, the player himself (and even several players) and the surrounding space are embedded in the gameplay, that is, in the video image generated by the game.
Devices for AR in Open Space
In order to form an augmented reality in open space video cameras, a computer with special software, and a projector are needed. The video camera receives and sends the real image to the PC, the software performs image analysis, the projector draws an additional image on the surface with a light beam. For example, a billiard simulator works like that. The player points a cue at the ball on the billiard table, the program analyzes the position of all balls, cue, player, calculates the expected trajectory of the ball.
The laser system projects images of the trajectory directly onto the pool table. The player sees this trajectory and can adjust the position of the cue. It is a classic control system with negative feedback.
Special AR Devices
These include all sorts of specialized technical devices that differ in the way they interact with a person and the way they display information. Although the general principle of the synthesis of real and unreal images using a computer program remains unchanged. Special tools include specialized pilot helmets for simulations or actual flight conditions. Some information is displayed on the helmet glass over the surrounding environment; such helmet tracks the position of the pilot’s eyeballs. In the near future, this concept will be applied to cars too, so drivers will be able to see all the needed data on the windshield.
Immersive Digital Transformation
Summing up, augmented reality is not only games and selfies with virtual masks. This is a huge number of opportunities for commercial use, new horizons in education, industry, medicine, construction, commerce, tourism, etc. Today we live in the midst of stormy research in the industry. This is a time of continuous birth of ideas, finding unexpected ways of applying and realizing the full power of this once fantastic technology — augmented reality.