The rise of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality

As the world welcomes new technologies, we welcome societal and business changes alike. Virtual Reality (or VR) has been on the radar for tech-led industries for many years now with a series of developments paving the way for a succession of advancements. Virtual Reality, simply put is an artificial computer generated simulation of a real life environment or situation. By stimulating the users vision and hearing, VR entirely immerses the user entirely and is often used with a goggle-like headset to facilitate the experience. The head-mounted display has been used in training to create a simulation of a real life experience, where people can practise first-hand, commonly used when training pilots whilst using a simulated piloting experience – Yet the technology has also paved the way for enhancing entertainment too, with video gaming and immersive experiences flourishing with VR tech.

So what is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality, also known as AR, is a technology that is based on existing reality, creating a computer generated enhancement as a functional layer to make the existing reality more meaningful. Augmented Reality tech has been developed into applications and used on mobile devices to merge digital components into reality through a digital display.

Virtual reality produces a digital creation or recreation of a real life setting, whilst augmented reality produces an overlay onto the real world.

Delivery methods

VR is usually delivered to the end user through a head-mounted (or sometimes hand-held) controller in which the physical equipment facilitates the virtual reality experience and allows them to navigate their actions in the given environment. AR is being used more frequently as the technology develops in mobile devices and applications alike. Some  popular examples of AR apps include AcrossAir, Google Sky Map, Layar, Lookator, SpotCrime, and the PokemonGo phenomenon which is played by 65 million people every month (and estimated 5 million people daily).

In terms of the technology used, AR and VR both leverage some of the same technology to create an enriched experience. Besides the use for entertainment, as it was once believed the idea of virtual reality to be a part of science-fiction, the ease of use and ability to embed the technologies in day-to-day activities (such as cinema, gaming and e-learning), leading tech companies are investing and developing new adaptations, agile processes, and improvements across the board to create a more enriched experience for increasingly technologically advanced users.

One of the first well-known business uses of AR tech was in 2014, where PepsiCo decided to implement the technology in one of their adverts in a London bus shelter.

The production of the ad highlighted PepsiCo’s playful approach by creating an exception experience by making it seem as if a UFO were to land as they hovered over the London skylines. The sensation was then ranked one of the most viewed videos on YouTube, making it one of the most viewed advertising campaigns worldwide. This early adoption of AR in advertisement proved that the company knew how to implement the technology in the right way for their target audience.

In more recent times, companies such as HomeDepot and IKEA allow users to use their app to check out how items would appear in their homes – Everything from table lamps to furniture and faucets to improve the online buying experience. Needless to say this has adequately revolutionised the way the technology has been used to enrich the overall experience for the end users.

Not all uses of VR and AR technologies are for fun and games, the e-learning element has even been adopted by the United States Army, by using AR tech they have been able to add layers to a combat setting to help soldiers distinguish targets and improve night-vision. As the tech is still in development, it may take a few years to roll out.

With technological advances, we can expect the use of Augmented Reality to surpass the use of Virtual Reality and be embedded into everyday life. What does this mean for the way we live and use technology in the future? Will this change the way we work, learn and live?

The above chart indicates that Augmented Reality is very much in use today with the idea of it’s implementations to be utilised 3 times as much in the next few years to come.