5 Augmented Reality

V – Augmented Reality Tablet Computer/Smartphone Based

Augmented Reality can be as simple as adding computer generated graphics and data on a real time camera view of a smartphone or tablet. The earliest renditions of this type of implementation came around 2005 and relied on “markers” in the form of 2D barcodes or pseudo-barcodes that would be recognizable in the camera image by the software and the 3D graphic or data would appear at that location (Craig, 2013, P. 17). Today’s technology can streamline this scheme with GPS data, camera image data, and smartphone IMU (inertial measurement unit) data combined to recognize a physical location and overlay the desired data or graphics to enhance the users experience of that physical, proximate reality. It is now frequently referred to as Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM).

This augmentation might take the form of directional arrows to help navigate through a busy airport terminal while on foot or finding a safe public restroom while sightseeing in an unfamiliar city. Instead of the blinking dot on the 2D map you would merely look at the scene through your camera and see guiding arrows or other graphics to assist you.

A recently very high profile AR success has been the Pokemon Go game where a player goes on a global scavenger hunt searching the world to find Pokemon characters at various locations. The graphical 3D characters would appear as animated objects embedded in the player’s real immediate environment as viewed in real time through the smartphone or tablet computer screen (www.pokemongo.com, n.d.). For more information about Augmented Reality Tablet Computer/Headset Smartphone Based systems see Appendix 1 and Table 3.

VI – Augmented Reality Heads Up Display; Camera; Text/Graphic Display

This category is composed of many different versions of wearable products intended to augment a user’s experiences. One class of product is used in the form of eyewear with Heads Up text or graphical displays directly projected on the lens or as a virtual screen smartphone display. These are popularly used by runners, cyclists, race car drivers and motorcyclists who desire hands-free Heads Up Display of their preferred data. For more information about Augmented Reality Head Up Display’s see Appendix 1 and Table 3.

VII – Augmented Reality, Tethered

This class of device brings many of the features of VR headsets to devices with transparent screens or cameras and depth sense equipped headsets. Microsoft’s Mixed Reality project targets business productivity applications for the technology. Their typical PC hardware partners are busy releasing first generation hardware in support of Microsoft’s vision of Mixed Reality for desktop, laptop and tablet computing devices. Microsoft’s strategy of targeting the business segment, along with gaming, addresses a much larger potential market willing and able to spend more on hardware and software in pursuit of productivity gains. Potential use cases include real time work group collaboration across the internet, design visualization, training for complex tasks, and augmented troubleshooting and repair in the field. AR advances of this type may prove disruptive to computer monitor markets as the need for screens may decline sharply. AR visualizations have the ability to create a large virtual screen without taking up any desktop real estate. For more detailed information about AR Tethered headsets see Appendix 1 and Table 3.

VIII – Augmented Reality Mobile

This class of product is the spiritual successor to Ivan Sutherland’s Sword of Damocles, the earliest augmented reality head mounted system. Presently Microsoft’s Hololens represents the most sophisticated version to be launched. Hololens creates realistic and lifelike holographic projections into the scene from a head mounted, fully self-contained device. The Hololens includes all processing hardware, batteries, sensors, displays and operator control interfaces. Engineering and packaging all of this into a light, fairly sleek design, the Hololens establishes many new potential use cases that have been imagined but not attainable until now.

While fully Immersive VR is fun and has addressed many exciting use cases, the AR Mobile devices are a more practical device for use on an extended basis. Whereas fully immersed VR users cannot keep any direct perception of their surroundings, AR users will still be able to see what’s going on around them. Developers will be able to create applications that leverage the merging of digital data and graphics with In-Real-Life (IRL) scenery and objects enabling users to seamlessly move between both situations and a blended version. For more detailed information about AR Mobile headsets see Appendix 1 and Table 3.

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