What Is AR? Escape Reality With This New Technology

young man using AR | What Is AR? Escape Reality With This New Technology
With it’s growing popularity, you might be wondering what is AR (Augmented Reality), exactly? Let’s take a deep dive into this technology. Continue reading this article and learn more about AR technology and its amazing features, innovations, uses, and more!

What is AR? | Everything You Need to Know About Augmented Reality

In this article:

What is AR or Augmented Reality?

3d presentation | What Is AR? Escape Reality With This New Technology

In Augmented Reality (AR) layers of computer-generated sensory information such as sound, video, GPS data, and graphics are integrated into the physical world. Where Virtual Reality (VR) creates a whole-new artificial world, AR uses an existing “real-world” environment and overlays digital information onto it.

How did AR Originate?

One of the first real-world application of Augmented Reality (AR) was fighter jets’ heads-up display. Symbols are projected onto a transparent glass to eliminate the distraction of looking at gauges. This also improved pilots’ weapon aiming. Before this breakthrough, a cinematographer named Morton Heilig actually created the very first, non-computer generated version of the AR. He created the Sensorama Simulator, an immersive and multi-sensory “theater device.” AR technology has really gone a long way. Have a quick view of its history below:

  • 1950s – Morton Heilig created the Sensorama in 1957.
  • 1960s – Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull invented The Sword of Damocles in 1968. This was the very first head-mounted display system that used computer-generated graphics to show users simple wireframe drawings.
  • 1970s – Myron Krueger invented Videoplace in 1974. This was an “artificial reality laboratory” that combined projectors with video cameras emitting onscreen silhouettes, giving users an interactive experience.
  • 1980sEyeTap, the first portable computer intended to be worn on the eyes, was created by Steve Mann. Douglas George and Robert Morris invented a heads-up display prototype that displays astronomical information over the sky.
  • 1990s – Being researchers, David Mizell and Thomas Caudell coined the term “augmented reality” in 1990. Louis Rosenberg made the AR system “Virtual Fixtures” in 1992. Finally, in 1999, the team of Mike Abernathy and Frank Delgado tried a brand new navigation software which made streets and runways information from videos taken from helicopters.
  • 2000s – Hirokazu Kato published ARToolkit in 2000. Then, Trimble Navigation launched helmet-mounted AR system in 2004. The AR Travel Guide was launched for Android smartphones in 2008.

Where is Augmented Reality Used Today?

pokemon go | What Is AR? Escape Reality With This New Technology

Ever played Pokemon Go or used Ikea’s Augmented Reality app? These are just a few examples of how we are using AR today. Then there’s the Google Glass and Microsoft Windows HoloLens. There’s so much potential for this technology. Here are some applications of AR at present:

AR in Gaming

Games that use AR can give players better in-game experiences. AR games such as Pokemon Go and Ingress, for example, can even promote living a more outgoing and active lifestyle. Players can benefit from performing actual activities in AR gaming grounds.

AR in Retail

AR apps like that of IKEA’s can actually help in bringing not only better customer engagement but also more sales. There are now apps which allow the customers to see 3D models of the products they like in real-time.

AR in Medicine

Augmented Reality can actually improve medicine and the healthcare industry as we know it. At present, some of the AR advances in this field include:

  • Accuvein – a device which aids in intravenous injections by showing a patient’s veins when a scanner is projected to the skin.
  • Augmedics – an AR headset which helps spine surgeons by overlaying a 3D model of a spine’s CT-scan, giving surgeons a sort of an “X-ray vision.”

AR in Tourism

Tourists can now enjoy apps like ARGON 4 or AR Browser SDK which can provide them with information of establishments and building by simply pointing their smartphones’ cameras on them. AR GPS apps like Drive/Walk Navigation could be really handy for travelers and tourists.

What are the Types of Augmented Reality?

Marker-based AR (Image Recognition)

With this type, a camera scans on a unique visual object to view the AR effect. These special visual objects could be anything such as QR codes or special signs. These markers are the ones that initiate the augmented content for viewing. Images in magazines can actually be markers for AR.

Markerless AR (Location-based or Position-based AR)

virtual navigation | What Is AR? Escape Reality With This New Technology

This type makes use of a GPS, gyroscope, compass, and accelerometer to come up with data according to the user’s location. Mapping, locating establishments, and other location-centric apps use this kind of AR.

Projection-based AR

With this type of AR, a device projects artificial light to a physical surface and interacts with it, creating digital alterations. Accuvein is an example of this AR tech.

Superimposition-based AR

Lastly, for this type, users will see superimposed digital images on an original environment, as its name suggests. IKEA’s Catalog app is a great example of this type of AR.

How Does Augmented Reality Work?

As mentioned earlier, Augmented Reality overlays digital information onto an existing real-life environment. It makes it look like computer-generated images are part of the real world. AR is possible with the help of technologies like depth tracking, SLAM, and the following components:

  • Cameras and sensors – AR technology requires these two to collect data about a user’s interaction, sending them for processing.
  • Processing – Augmented Reality devices have to act like computers to measure speed, direction, angle, and orientation in space. These will be the references on where to place the digital alterations.
  • Projection – Projectors on AR devices do this process. They take the data from the sensors and flash digital content onto a surface.
  • Reflection – AR companies create AR devices with mirrors to assist users’ eyes in viewing virtual images. They reflect the light to a camera and a user’s eye for proper image alignment.


Watch this interesting video of WIRED on Augmented Reality technology below:

We hope we’ve equipped you with enough information to answer someone who asks “What is AR?” Augmented reality is just fascinating, right? With the continuous development of this technology, who knows what amazing stuff we’ll be able to do in the future. Check back for more updates!

Any thoughts on AR you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below!

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