Augmented reality (AR) is one of the most popular technology fads right now, and it’ll only become more popular as AR-capable smartphones and other devices become more widely available. AR allowed us to view the real-world environment right in front of us—trees swaying in the park, dogs chasing balls, children playing soccer—with a digital augmentation superimposed on top of it. A pterodactyl, for example, might be seen landing amid the trees, dogs mingling with their cartoon counterparts, and children kicking past an alien spacecraft on their way to score a goal.
These examples are not that dissimilar to what might already be accessible on your smartphone, thanks to developments in AR technology. In fact, augmented reality is widely available and being used in a range of applications, including Snapchat lenses, apps that help you find your car in a congested parking lot, and a variety of shopping apps that allow you to try on things without leaving your house.
The mobile app Pokemon Go, which was introduced in 2016 and rapidly became an inescapable sensation, is perhaps the most renowned example of AR technology. Pokemon figures appear in the real world—on your sidewalk, in a fountain, even in your own bathroom—and players must identify and capture them.
Aside from games, there are as many applications for augmented reality in our daily lives as there are Pikachu on the loose in Pokemon GO. Here are a couple of such examples:
- Augmented reality is used in enhanced navigation systems to superimpose a route over a live image of the road.
- Broadcasters utilize augmented reality (AR) to draw lines on the field during football games to illustrate and analyze plays.
- IKEA, the Swedish furniture and homewares retailer, has developed an augmented reality (AR) software called IKEA Place that allows you to preview how a piece of furniture will appear and fit in your room.
- Military fighter pilots view an augmented reality projection of their altitude, speed, and other data on their helmet visor, eliminating the need to squander concentrate by glancing down.
- An AR projection of a 3-D brain is occasionally used by neurosurgeons to assist them during procedures.
- AR can project views of old civilizations over today’s ruins at historical places like Pompeii in Italy, bringing the past to life.
- Ground crew members at Singapore’s airport use augmented reality glasses to view information about cargo containers, reducing loading times.
Augmented reality (AR) uses the camera of a smartphone to overlay digital elements to a live scene. Snapchat glasses and the game Pokemon Go are two examples of augmented reality experiences.
Virtual reality (VR) refers to a completely immersive experience that isolates the user from the outside world. Users can be transported into a variety of real-world and imagined situations using VR devices such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Google Cardboard, such as the middle of a squawking penguin colony or the back of a dragon.
Real-world and digital items interact in a Mixed Reality (MR) experience, which includes features of both AR and VR. Mixed reality is only now beginning to gain traction, with Microsoft’s HoloLens being one of the most renowned early mixed reality devices.
Extended Reality (XR) is a catch-all name for a variety of technologies that improve our senses, whether by delivering additional information about the real world or by constructing completely unreal, simulated worlds for us to explore. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies are all included.