Augmented Reality’s Origins
To understand today’s types of augmented reality (AR), you need to first understand where this technology came from. AR has existed in laboratory settings since the 1960s, but made impressive technical and cultural progress in the last few years.
AR made a leap into public spaces a few decades ago, when it was featured in rides at amusement parks or in 4D movie theaters that use water, air, sound, lights, or movement to create immersion.
But the real explosion of AR in recent years (and why everyone is talking about it) is because of the processing power in today’s smart devices. This fact, plus the mobility of smartphones, has untethered AR and enabled augmented experiences to appear in exciting new spaces.
AR can enhance a simple shopping experience with augmented coupons or product previews. It can also improve accuracy in complex situations, like overlaying surgical directions on a patient’s body as a guide through a life-saving procedure.
People sometimes confuse augmented reality with virtual reality (VR). While they do share pieces of development history, the two aren’t the same. Virtual reality creates immersion in an artificial environment, but augmented reality increases or heightens an experience in the real world by layering additional information atop it. Simply put: VR seeks to replace a world whereas AR wants to add to it instead.
The diverse uses for AR, from the consumer to the commercial level, makes it appealing for just about any industry. VR and AR technology hit a high point with investments estimated at $3 billion in 2017.