Whenever trending technologies are being discussed, augmented reality, and its more popular counterpart, virtual reality always come up. The potential of extended reality to us as humans is tremendous, so its popularity doesn’t come as a surprise. While augmented reality hasn’t been getting as much attention as virtual reality, you can rest assured that advancements are being made in this field, albeit at a slower pace than virtual reality.
We have definitely come a long way from Ivan Sutherland’s Sword of Damocles, the first augmented reality headset which he invented in 1968. Though it wasn’t until 1990 Tom Caudell, a Boeing researcher coined the term ‘augmented reality.’ Augmented reality has been in existence as far back as the 1960s, but it was in the early 2000s that it actually gained prominence.
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not totally immerse you in a different world. Instead, it overlays your current reality with certain objects, videos, images or texts when triggered by a physical feature in the real world. This makes it significantly different from VR.
There are several ways augmented reality is currently being used. The most popular way is through a phone’s mobile camera. This is something you might have seen before. When you launch an AR app and point it at a specific location or object, you would notice that a digitally rendered object, text, or image has been overlaid over the object your camera is pointed at.
A good example of this is Snapchat’s use of filters. The other popular way is to make use of a headset like the HoloLens or Google Glass. These headsets or glasses project the overlaid objects into your eyes.
Augmented reality has seen use in several industries such as architecture, gaming, education, art, marketing, and so many others. It is also used by a number of military forces around the world. In Singapore, there are several institutions that make use of augmented reality.
At the National Museum, mobile phones are provided to visitors for them to see virtual objects placed at several locations around the museums. At the Changi Airport, ground handlers use AR glasses to check for relevant information while loading the cargo unto the airplane. The ArtScience Museum in Singapore also uses augmented reality to enhance the experience of its visitors. These are just some of the ways augmented reality is used.
The Future Of Augmented Reality
The Singapore government has been actively using AR and VR to enhance their activities. The SAF has been making research into how it can adopt augmented reality to improve their military training. They recently published a research paper on various ways AR could be used in the Singapore military. They also looked at how they could implement these ideas in the long run. You can check out the full research paper here.
The AR industry has come a long way, but it still has a lot of ground to cover. While the virtual reality field is currently ahead of augmented reality, it is expected to surpass VR, especially in terms of revenue in the coming years. The healthcare industry revenue from AR in the next five years has been estimated at $5 billion. AR glasses like the HoloLens are currently targeted at enterprises. But this is bound to change this year as smartphone-powered AR glasses begin to go mainstream.
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