What is Augmented Reality?

A very simple explanation for this is an enhancement of the objects of the environment of the real world with the help of computers and technologies. If it’s still hard to understand then think of the movie Ironman. Almost everyone has seen it or at least knows about it.

Imagine you are being inside the Ironman suit. Then imagine you are looking at the world through the Ironman suit like in the movie. That is a perfect example for Augmented Reality. You see everything like a normal person but not only that, you get a lot of enhanced extra information about objects of the real world. For instance, you look at a tank through the Ironman suit. If you look at it through a normal human eye, you only see the tank but in this case you also see every information about the tank such as the weight, size, model etc. That is the highest level of augmented reality.

If you are familiar with the game Pokémon Go, it’s also a good example for Augmented reality. You can catch Pokémons in the real world but you can see them only through your phone. You have to physically go there to catch it but can see it only through your phone thus Augmented reality.

The difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has become a huge trend due to famous movies such as Matrix trilogy, Ready Player One and Jumanji. So people often get confused with virtual reality and augmented reality. As above mentioned, augmented reality is basically an enhanced real world reality. On the other hand, Virtual reality is a completely made up reality. It has no connection with the real world environment.

There are games you can play on virtual reality. You simply put on the VR helmet so you can’t see anything from the outside world. When you turn your head you can see around the virtual world. The difference is, let’s say there is a wall on the virtual reality, but in real world, there is no wall there. But in the same case regarding AR, there is definitely a wall there.

Is Augmented Reality useful to us?

Absolutely Yes. In medical field, this can come in handy in lots of scenarios like cardio surgery, brain surgery, eye examinations and MRI scanning of brain. With this technology, the surgeon will be able to get real time data simply by looking at the operation. It will be a huge help for the surgeon since it would be a great assistance throughout the process. It will be like having a second mind through the operation so making a mistake would drop down indefinitely. This is already an implementation in the medical field.

Also AR can be used for entertainment purposes. Not only that, AR can be basically used for anything. Fashion, sports, education, business, engineering, telecommunication, military, film etc. So using AR can make these processes a lot easy and interesting.

Drawbacks of Augmented Reality

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks too regarding augmented reality. It comes at a price, literally a huge price. That means implementing AR into anything would be relatively expensive. And it’s also expensive to maintain AR in a specific project. Not just the implementation part, it is very expensive to make AR enable devices too since they definitely have to be smart devices like glasses or phones.

Another major issue would be the lack of privacy since when implemented AR, you can basically see lots of extra information. For instance, let’s say you have a smart glass with AR and you look at someone and a face recognition algorithm gives you the basic information about the said person such as name, address, age etc. getting them through social media. It would be a serious privacy violation regarding that person.  Also the lack of security would impact the process in an overall level.

Studies have shown that AR can cause mental health issues like impacting the user’s behaviors in minor ways. Also the performance of AR related devices are still at a basic level (not like shown in Ironman) so AR enabled devices still has a long way to go to give us a proper AR experience. And studies have shown that extreme use of augmented reality can lead to serious health issues such as obesity and eye problems.

Apps that use Augmented Reality

Even though that AR is still at an inception level, there are lots of applications that use augmented reality. The first and most famous one is Google translator. You can take a photo of words and translate that word or sentences using AR with Google translator into any language. Also as above mentioned, Pokémon Go is another famous app that uses AR and that app became viral in a very short time due to the uniqueness of it.

There is another phone application called Layar that uses AR. In it, you can upload a picture of a print content like a magazine or a newspaper and the application will provide you the direct link to the soft copy source of that said content.

Another famous and awesome application is Night Sky. You can get details about the night sky like what are the stars, satellites etc. simply by pointing your phone to the sky. You can use your GPS to give your location to your phone and it will give you a complete night sky with awesome music. It will be like your own personal mini planetarium. If you get the premium package of this app, you can get live sky tours, deep sky zoom and solar system exploration.

IKEA place, Augmented Car Finder, Wikitude World Browser, Air Measure, Inkhunter, WakkaMe are more examples for very good use of augmented reality. You can check all of these apps and many more on Apple App store or Android Play store and have a first-hand augmented reality experience.