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Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality


Augmented Reality

Augmented reality [AR] is where the real world is combined with computer generated data. AR is an intermediary step between reality and immersive virtual reality. To many, augmented reality is one step further on from virtual reality.

Video - Augmented Reality


To date, most AR research has focused on the use of live video imagery, which is digitally processed and "augmented" by the addition of computer generated graphics.

Advanced research includes the use of:

  • motion tracking data
  • fiducial marker recognition using machine vision
  • construction of controlled environments containing any number of sensors and actuators.

On the spectrum between virtual reality, which creates immersible, computer-generated environments, and the real world, augmented reality is closer to the real world.

Augmented reality adds graphics, sounds, haptics and smell to the natural world as it exists.

Augmented reality will truly change the way we view the world.


Characteristics of AR

One of its most important characteristics of augmented reality is the way in which it enables transformation of the focus of interaction. The interactive system tranforms from being a precise location, where interaction is a face-to-screen exchange, to a whole environment where one becomes semi-immersed in the surrounding space and objects. For instance, accessing an information system is no longer exclusively a conscious and intentional act.

Augmented reality is an environment that includes both virtual reality and real-world elements. For instance, an AR user might wear translucent goggles. Through these, the user can see the real world, as well as computer-generated images projected on top of that world. An augmented reality system as one that:

  • combines real and virtual
  • is interactive in real time
  • is registered in 3D


Augmented Reality Interfaces

Displaying augmented reality is achieved by expanding a PC screen into the real environment.

Program windows and icons appear as virtual devices in real space and are eye or gesture operated, by gazing or pointing.

A single personal display [glasses] could concurrently simulate a hundred conventional PC screens or application windows all around a user.

Virtual devices of all kinds, e.g. replacement of traditional screens, control panels, and entirely new applications impossible in 'real' hardware, like 3D objects interactively changing their shape and appearance based on the current task or need.

Augmented Living

Enhancements like 'X-ray'-views, virtual plants, wallpapers, panoramic views, artwork, decorations, illumination etc., are used for enhancing everyday life.

For example, a virtual window could be displayed on a regular wall showing a live feed of a camera placed on the exterior of the building, thus allowing the user to effectually toggle a wall's transparency.

AR Mass Interfaces

AR systems are fast being adopted into mass market. Their potential for use is unlimited; virtual window dressings, posters, traffic signs, Christmas decorations, advertisement towers and more.

These instances of AR may be fully interactive even at a distance, by eye pointing for example.

Virtual Gadgetry

Virtual gadgetry becomes possible. Any physical device currently produced to assist in data-oriented tasks (such as the clock, radio, PC, arrival/departure board at an airport, stock ticker, PDA, PMP, informational posters/fliers/billboards, in-car navigation systems, etc. could be replaced by virtual devices that cost nothing to produce aside from the cost of writing the software.

Examples might be a virtual wall clock, a to-do list for the day docked by your bed for you to look at first thing in the morning, etc.


AR Feeds

Subscribable group-specific AR feeds will become available, just as RSS feeds for text and graphic information are currently available. For example, a manager on a construction site could create and dock instructions including diagrams in specific locations on the site. The workers could refer to this feed of AR items as they work. Another example could be patrons at a public event subscribing to a feed of direction and information oriented AR items.

NEXT: AR User Equipment

ALSO SEE: Uses For Augmented Reality

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