Dating back almost 30 years, the first fully immersive augmented reality system was created by Louis Rosenberg at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Now widely known term “augmented reality” was coined 2 years before, by Boeing researcher Tom Caudell.
From its use in NASA’s spacecraft in the 1990s to today, many things changed.
So what is AR – Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality is an interactive experience where the real world is expanded and enhanced by digital objects and models. It works by using the phone’s camera and implementing the models into the real world view.
There are many applications of such technology – the most widely known one is in the gaming industry.
The first-ever augmented reality game was developed in 2000 and is called “AR Quake”. The hardware setup for playing the game was very bulky and not compact like the modern ones. You had to wear a headset, and besides that, you had to wear a whole backpack that has gyroscopes and other important electronics for the game to work. Mobile phones at the time weren’t nearly ready to do such heavy work as the performances and specifications were unbelievably lower than the modern ones.
In the early 2000s, there was a rise in the gaming industry with the AR. For example, one of the first games for smartphones was made back in 2005 – AR Tennis, a two-player game developed for Nokia phones.
As the usage and popularity of the technology expanded, many people have seen other possible applications, one being the commercial and marketing purpose. BMW was one of the first companies to use the AR in the commercial sense with printed advertisements enhanced by the AR. Together with different practical uses the development of a wide variety of hardware support came along. Google Glass, one of the most popular early AR glasses, was made public in 2012. After that, many different headsets started appearing, all with similar applications – to use the augmented reality more in the real world. Google Glass popularized the AR, and a new use rose – to use AR in medicine. Dr. Ned Sahin was one of the first people to use the glasses for medical purposes, to help children with autism learn social skills. There are many ways AR can be used in medicine – for example, to project the image of veins on the body so doctors easily know where they are, or to project the organs during the operations to help surgeons do their job even better.
While the technology was rapidly developing, it still wasn’t so affordable worldwide. When it was released, popular mobile game Pokemon GO took the world by storm and pushed the AR concepts into the mainstream. From that point, many games were developed in this field and both augmented and virtual reality software flourished. Today, it is affordable and everyone can try augmented reality by simply downloading an app that uses it, while virtual reality headsets are still expensive and aren’t that widely supported, although they probably will, following the destiny of personal computers.
For commercial purposes, there are also many applications where companies can use it for marketing and making interactive advertisements. For example, on live events, a car company could have the car model they’re trying to sell available at the event, and when visitors focus the camera from the app developed by the company, they could see the skeleton of the car together with some useful information. Car companies could also do interesting and engaging apps, for example, visitors could type in their name or some random text in the app, and when they focus the camera to the car registration plate, their name would appear instead of the plate number.
The applications are vast, and we are discovering new ones every day. It brings value to both science and entertainment, and it’s becoming easier for the apps to be developed. The amount of knowledge needed to develop an AR app at a basic level is becoming much smaller than before – just like other programming and computing concepts like website development.
Using popular game engines, everything is usually laid up for you to easily make your own augmented reality app. So why not try it? It might be the next big thing and go viral in the world!