The Basics Behind Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) is a term you’ve likely heard a lot about lately. Nearly all sectors of industry are invested in unlocking its potential and experts agree that it will continue to flourish in years to come. So, what exactly is AR – and why does it matter?
AR is the use of technology to overlay computer-generated data (most commonly in the form of visual and audio media) onto a real-world environment. This creates wholly new and interactive experiences. And while the concept of AR sounds futuristic, it has been around for decades.
The Early Limits of AR
Many early iterations of AR in public spaces came from the entertainment industry: think Disney’s elaborate theme park rides or D-BOX seats found at movie theaters. These forms of AR were all tethered to a single location and relied on unique hardware. In 2016, Nintendo and Niantic unveiled a project that changed the way the public imagined AR.
The Pokémon GO video game generated AR-enabled waypoints at public locations. Players had to visit these areas and use their smartphones to engage and ‘capture’ virtual monsters. Before long, the game became a pop-culture sensation and was the first exposure for many to mobile AR-experiences. Pokémon GO is just one of the many programs that have untethered AR from its previous limitations – and proved the technology has marketable and promotional value in communal spaces.
New Frontiers for AR
Pokémon GO and apps like it exist thanks to increasingly powerful hardware in mobile devices, allowing their users to travel with tremendous computing capabilities. There are over half a billion AR-capable devices in use today. This number is expected to more than double by 2020. This trend enables software developers to deliver AR experiences into an ever-growing market.
The accessibility and deeply immersive experiences AR offers has companies across the globe looking to tap into its possibilities. And many have already made strides in these early days of mobile AR. The Google Translate app uses AR to provide instant translations. Snapchat makes visually-altered selfies a reality. Home goods retailer IKEA encourages customers to arrange virtual furniture in real rooms. Sectors like education, tourism, and commercial design are all investing dollars and manpower into the development of their own cutting-edge AR software.
And we stay on the cutting-edge at InnovatAR. Recently, we developed our own AR-enabled ad for Agency MABU which we debuted during the Winter Holiday season. Using the Layar app, we were able to create an AR marker within a print image, which brought the message to life when the reader scanned it with their smartphone. Check out the results below:
As the popularity and ubiquity of AR grows, the technology will be less and less limited to major brands or companies. It’s a tool that will be available to nearly every business on almost any budget. AR is here to stay and will continue to influence how the public interacts with reality. And it will alter the future of how companies and organizations engage with their audiences.