Augmented Reality (AR) let us see the real-life environment in an interactive experience right in front of us. Like trees swaying in the park, dogs chasing balls or kids playing soccer – with a digital augmentation overlaid on it. In other words, you can see the real world topped-up with digital objects. For example, you want to buy a chair, AR can help you to see how different chairs will look in your room and choose the best one.
AR is one of the biggest technology trends at this point of time and it’s only going to get bigger, as AR ready smartphones and other devices become more accessible around the world. There are mainly two type of devices to bring AR experiences to life:
Portable devices – This is most accessible, as we can use our smartphones or tablets to run AR applications. Most of these use phone cameras to capture the real-world, digital objects are then overlaid on it and users can see the final results on phone screens.
Smart glasses and AR headsets – Another way to create AR experiences is to use special smart glasses or headsets. Unlike VR (virtual reality) headsets, these AR glasses and headsets don’t take users into a fully virtual environment but just add digital objects to the real world.
Few more examples of AR hardware: Head-up display (HUD), Contact lenses, Virtual retinal display, EyeTap, etc.
Difference between Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR):
As already discussed, AR adds digital elements to the real-life. On the other hand, VR implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical/real world. Few of the available VR devices – HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. Using these, users can be transported into a number of real-world and imagined environments such as the middle of a squawking penguin colony, even flying on the back of a dragon.
There is also a combination for both of these, Mixed reality (MR). It combines elements of both AR and VR, a virtual environment combined with the real world. Microsoft’s HoloLens is one of the most notable MR examples.
AR technology applications:
Advertising: AR helps marketers and advertisers reach out to the audiences much more efficiently. Lenskart, CaratLane, Makaan, Tinkle, etc are few famous AR apps.
Archaeology: AR has been used to aid archaeological research. It allows archaeologists to formulate possible site configurations from extant structures. Computer generated models of ruins, buildings, landscapes have been recycled into archaeological AR applications.
Manufacturing: Manufacturing workers can get assistance from AR gadgets to reduce human error, save time, and increase efficiency. This helps companies improve productivity and quality. Upskill offers an augmented reality platform for industrial applications. Some big corporations, such as General Electric and Boeing, are already using AR in their manufacturing processes.
Architecture: It helps in visualizing the building projects. Computer generated images of a structure can be superimposed onto a real-life local view of a property, before the actual physical construction.
Retail: Online shopping is convenient, time-saving, and money-saving. But what if an item isn’t exactly what the buyer expected when it arrives? AR apps are a great solution to this problem, as they allow customers to virtually view or even try on products sold online. IKEA Place is an AR app for iOS, that helps users check whether a piece of furniture from its catalog fits into your home.
Navigation: Virtual objects overlapping the real world can show directions and guide people to locations. For example, Yelp has a Monocle option that shows you the nearest cafes and restaurants.
Maintenance and Repairs: Suppose you want to repair something that you are not aware of. A special AR application can help you in that. Imaging a car manufacturing company or a kitchen appliances service provider giving you the AR apps that allow you to do the basic repairs on your own, without taking any help from the professionals.
AR techs. for mobile apps development: There are lots of AR development kits available these days. Choosing the right solution from those depends upon your actual requirements and also there are many other factors as well – like Type of licence, Supported platforms, Smart glasses support, Cloud recognition, On-device (local) recognition, 3D tracking, Geolocation, etc.
Here are few popular AR platforms/SDKs available in the market:
- Google ARCore
- Apple ARKit
Comparison of these platforms/SDKs: