Augment Your Reality

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Augment Your Reality

The simplest explanation of Augmented Reality (AR) is the overlay of digital information, such as text or images, on a live video feed.1  AR is not to be confused with Virtual Reality, often found in video games or some online meeting places.  Rather, it incorporates digital elements into real-world interfaces. 

If you’ve watched NFL football on TV in the last few years, you’re familiar with this concept because the virtual “scrimmage” and “first down” lines you see displayed on the screen are examples of this type of technology. 

To date, many analysts argue that AR has been more hype than help.  They are wondering what sort of “killer app” might emerge to justify consumers giving AR serious attention. Maybe there never will be one main, game-changing AR application, but it is already turning out to be beneficial in hundreds of small ways that make it a welcome addition to our reality. 


To understand the current uses of AR and its future potential, let’s consider three consumer-related interfaces where AR is being leveraged. 

The first is Web-based AR, which uses a person’s computer and webcam to provide an enhanced experience.  A marker is held up in front of the camera, which triggers a response that is seen on the screen. 

Motion can also cause an effect.  A practical example of this is an online fashion store that allows customers to “virtually” try on apparel to see how it looks before purchasing.  For advertisers, it offers a way for prospective customers to play with virtual objects on their screens while product brands are being promoted.

A second interface involves kiosks, typically in public places.  The approach is the same as with PCs, but it can be more powerful with applications that use 3D or facial tracking. 

One such kiosk, in a toy store in Orlando, allows customers to see and appear to hold a completed Lego kit by placing the box for the kit up to the screen.2 

Smart phones are the third interface, having played a significant role in launching AR in 2010.3  This platform could prove to be the most ubiquitous use of AR, since cell phones have become a constant presence in our lives.  It’s the marriage of a phone’s camera with virtual images that augments the reality we see on the phone’s screen in real time. 


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