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Augmented Reality: What is it and why might you care?

By Arlene MinkiewiczMay 19, 2020

Last week as I sat in my office gazing out the window, I was struck by the throngs of people outside my window lurching distractedly through the parking lot staring at their phones. Turns out that the water tower in the back of our office is a Poke Stop – part of the new Pokemon Go craze. In case you live under a rock, Pokemon Go is the new smart phone game that allows one to wonder around the real (physical) world collecting Pokemon. The game can be downloaded for free for either the iPhone or Android. Once you download the game and sign up, a map will appear, not unlike Google maps and you can start to locate nearby Pokemon which you would proceed to try and capture.

While not really interested in playing these game, I was definitely intrigued by what was going on behind it and what this might mean for software development in the future. Turns out that the technology behind this game is something called augmented reality (AR). According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Go) “Augmented reality is a live and direct or indirect view of a physical real world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory inputs such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Instead of replacing the world with a simulated reality, augmented reality modifies the view of reality but allows the user to continue interacting in the real world.

Certainly, Pokemon Go is not the only instance of augmented reality, Google Glass, Windows Holographic and HoloLens to name a few, but it appears that the widespread popularity of this game has brought speculation of the future of AR to the forefront. Clearly AR is great for gaming apps but I was curious as to what other kinds of applications out there now are currently taking advantage of AR and how Check out these websites for more information and details http://augmentic.wix.com/augmentic#!examples-of-ar-being-used/c14dy and http://www.iphoneness.com/iphone-apps/best-augmented-reality-iphone-applications/:

  • Ikea has an app that works with their catalog to allow you to see what furniture will look like in your home.
  • Sandpiper – makers of industrial pumps, have development a AR repair guide app for one of their pumps
  • SingTel has developed an AR presentation tool that lets the presenter control different animations via real time gestures
  • Cyclopedia is an iPhone app that gives you Wikipedia like information at whatever your phone is pointing at
  • Star Chart will provide a virtual star chart on your phone identifying specifically what the current landscape of the sky is.

Well – you get the picture. There are clearly obvious uses for AR in business, medicine, travel, entertainment, gaming and so many other areas. Clearly there are challenges, Pokemon Go users complain of not enough bandwidth and constant battery drain, but none the less AR seems to present an exciting direction for software technology to take. I sincerely thank those people trolling in the parking lot for Pokemon for opening my eyes to the possibilities.