Have you heard of haptic communication or know what superimpositions, head mounted displays or mobile computing are? For the layman, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies are still quite abstract and exotic technologies, perceived often as science fiction. However, interactive displays, virtual 3D models and animate holograms are for real and they really do exist! The real environment that is modified by various computer generated objects are pretty much present in a wide range of areas from aviation to gaming. Have you ever tried to interact with the characters of a video game in the recent times or tried to fit furniture in your room with the help of an app? Well that is augmented reality technology for you. AR has a more far reaching use compared to its counterparts. Multiple tech companies and engineers all across the world are working to enhance the potential of this technology. What is augmented reality? This technology expands our physical world by adding layers of digital information onto it. In comparison to how VR functions, in augmented reality a whole new artificial environment is not created to be replaced with a virtual one. In fact, AR creates a different view of an existing environment by adding sounds, video and graphics to it. It is indeed a view of the real physical world combined with superimposed computer-generated images that changes the real world. The term was first coined in 1990 when AR had its first commercial uses in television and military. As the internet and smartphones started becoming a household thing, the second wave of AR was rolled out and later it became related to interactive concepts. Today, different 3D models are projected and infused in real time environments. Augmented reality companies have come up with different apps that impact our social lives, habits and various industries. For example, this technology connects connect information with the help of GPS in phones to point out a location. In the context of the environment, augmentation is happening real time, for example, displaying scores to the live feed of a sports channel. How augmented reality works? As augmented reality for most of us implies a highly technical side. This technology requires a certain range of data in the form of animations, images, videos, 3D models and the like. People are able to see the results both in natural and synthetic lights. Users are at the same time aware of being in the real world that is enhanced by computer visions which is not the case in VR. You can display the augmented reality technology in different devices like screens, hand held devices, glasses, mobile phones and head mounted displays. It makes use of technologies like S.L.A.M. (simultaneous localization and mapping) and depth tracking along with a few components like cameras and sensors, reflection, projection and the like. Let us take a look at how AR works with its required components:
- Camera and sensors: this technology collects information about the interactions of an user and sends it for processing. Cameras on a device scans the surroundings and with the help of this information, a device is able to locate physical objects and generate 3D models. It can be any special duty camera like in Microsoft or common cameras in smartphones to record videos or take pictures.
- Processing: AR devices actually works like computers, something that smartphones are already doing. In a similar fashion, they need a CPU, flash memory, GPS, RAM, Bluetooth, WiFi etc. to measure speed, angle, direction, space orientation and the like.
- Projection: this generally is a miniature projector on AR devices or headsets. This collects data from sensors and projects digital content on a surface on which the content can be viewed. The use of projections in the AR technology has not completely being invented to be used in commercial products or services.
- Reflection: a few AR devices are equipped with mirrors that can assist the human eye to view virtual images. Some come with a variety of small and curved mirrors. While others come with a double-sided mirror that reflects light to the camera and to the user’s eyes. The o adjective of these reflection paths is to create a proper alignment of the images.