what is augmented reality?

Augmented reality is a technology that adds virtually generated images to the real world view, resulting in a composite view. In other words, it integrates digital or virtual information into what the user is seeing in real time. 

This technology adds, through a device, be it a smartphone, glasses, or a tablet, sensory information to what the user is seeing, generating an intertwined vision of reality and added elements. What it seeks is to enrich what the user is seeing, adding videos, images, and sounds, among other elements. 

Although the development of augmented reality is constantly evolving, for now, all its uses require a device sophisticated enough to create these elements virtually generated to the user’s real vision. For this, it is necessary that the devices have high-speed processors, sensors, and screens, in this way what is achieved is to superimpose 3D images with real-world objects. The more advanced the hardware, the more possibilities augmented reality will offer. For example, if the device has compasses and GPS, the experience will include real-time orientation and location.

Augmented reality vs Virtual Reality

Virtual reality

Many times, these two concepts are confused or thought to be the same. However, they are two different things. While augmented reality seeks to superimpose virtually generated objects into the real world, virtual reality immerses the user in a 100% virtually created environment. 

Virtual reality recreates a virtual environment, through a visor or goggles, the user interacts with this 100% virtual environment, sometimes you must also accompany the experience with gloves or other devices that allow you to act within this simulation. The user feels that he is in another place, another world, or another reality. 

Let’s take it to an example of our daily life: In NFL games where we see the line that players must reach for, or in the NBA where statistics or characteristics of the players are shown while we are watching the game simultaneously, these are uses of augmented reality. For its part, virtual reality can be seen, for example, in video games, where through a viewer the user observes his surroundings and is “inside” the game, everything around him is virtually designed to make him feel that he is immersed in this “new world”.

Augmented reality uses

The uses and applications of augmented reality are as varied as the user or whoever needs it can imagine. From entertainment to production, to health services, and military or scientific uses. 

  • Many brands use virtual reality to place their products within a real image, so customers see their products being used in real life, making them much more attractive and easier to understand. 
  • Plant supervisors in factories can monitor the work performed by operators remotely and in real-time, while augmented reality can show them parts that are broken or need to be fixed. 
  • The Gatwick airport passenger app: through a mobile application, passengers have the opportunity to see the airport map and be guided to where they should go, their gates, check-in desks, and immigration, among other places. This greatly improved the user experience and passenger traffic within the airport. 
  • Ikea: through its mobile application, users can see on their cameras how the furniture or different objects they want to buy would look like, in their homes, or located wherever they want. So they can try the different types of furniture and choose if they look good if they match with the rest of the things if they should choose another color or size, etc. 
  • Many make-up brands use augmented reality so that users can use their phone’s front camera to see how their products look, choose colors and shades, combine products and see how they go together. Not only does it save time and money, but it calls users into a concept of makeup “play”. 

Mixed reality

This concept takes aspects of both augmented reality and virtual reality, and what it seeks is to generate 3D simulations of real objects, here real objects are mixed with virtually simulated objects. It is the combination of the real world and the digital world. 

The more advances we have in this technological approach, the more will be the possibilities of mixing aspects that we never thought possible in the digital world and apply them in the real world, at least in the form of simulations. 

The future of augmented reality

With so many uses and possibilities, the future of this technology has many unknowns, but one thing that is certain is the fact that it will continue to evolve and change the way we see and understand things. New business models, new products, products that will become obsolete and cease to exist, and better production processes. These are just some of the contributions that augmented reality can add to our lives. 

In conjunction with the specific development of these technologies, there are aspects that are beginning to perfect the experiences they provide. For example, the development of 5G networks will make the speed of navigation and the use of augmented reality much more comfortable and agile. In the same way, new processors allow better images with more definition and better quality.

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