Augmented Reality: A Look at the Tech

By: Karthik Bagavathy

Augmented Reality is one of numerous new technological innovations that has the potential to alter human life. It is fairly common to confuse Augmented Reality with Virtual Reality, as Virtual Reality is a much more popular and well-known technology in comparison to Augmented Reality. However, AR has many uses and has various applications in comparison with game-centered VR technologies. Augmented Reality basically works by placing virtual objects in the real world through the help of a device’s camera, typically a mobile phone. Most Augmented Reality apps are set to be used on everyday devices such as phones and tablets, with some exceptions.

There are two main types of Augmented Reality, divided on the basis of how they function: Marker-based AR and Markerless AR. Marker-based Augmented Reality is a preprogrammed version of AR that uses image recognition to identify objects. Fiducial Markers are objects that are used as reference frames for the software in order to identify the position and orientation of the camera and display the virtual objects accordingly. Although this method is easier than the other one which we will be discussing further, it does require the location to be set for the software to work, which also means that the software doesn’t work in unfamiliar places. This type of AR is often used in AR prototypes and software in museums, planetariums, and other places of attractions. For example, the software can be used to identify the name of the object/painting, translate signs to another language in the location, etc. based on known markers.

However, Marker-based AR cannot be used in all places, especially when the location isn’t just a single building or group of buildings. In that case, developers use Markerless AR instead. This type of AR is not preprogrammed and is instead made to recognize patterns that will help determine positioning of objects. Many home furniture apps use Markerless AR to recognize common patterns in an individual’s house and place the furniture models accordingly. Since the AR cannot be preprogrammed to find markers in every house that it’s being used, Markerless AR serves as a useful method to program a flexible software. In fact, the popular mobile game Pokémon Go also uses Markerless AR by recognizing common patterns through GPS, camera, and time data to place Pokémon in set places. While Marker-based AR uses much fewer resources and is simpler to program, Markerless AR is much more flexible and is beginning to be used by numerous companies for a variety of applications.

One of the major applications of AR involves games, especially for iOS and Android mobile phones. Pokémon Go is a very well-known example. It is the most popular AR game and one of the most popular mobile games overall which uses Markerless AR to detect its surroundings and place Pokémon accordingly. Pokémon Go isn’t the only one; there are many other lesser known AR games such as Ingress and Jurassic World Alive. They utilize similar underlying technologies and represent a shift in mobile games towards AR. Nevertheless, gaming isn’t the only application of AR, as it is used in a variety of other mobile applications. Some would include the camera language translation for Google Translate, face filters for Snapchat, and so many more. The possibilities of AR are endless, and these apps and games only represent the early stage of a technology that has the potential to be present in numerous other apps in the future.

Although Augmented Reality is not as well-known as Virtual Reality, it is one of the many modern technologies that has the capability to alter our day-to-day lives. Its popularity among several technology-based companies suggests that this technology might experience significant advancements in the upcoming years. In addition to this, there is currently research being done on the integration of Artificial Intelligence to Augmented Reality systems, which has numerous possibilities on its own.


Office Business Accountant - Free photo on Pixabay

Pokemon Smartphone Go - Free image on Pixabay

What Did You Learn?


1. What are the two main types of Augmented Reality and what are their differences?

The two types of Augmented Reality are Marker-based AR and Markerless AR. Marker-based AR relies on known markers to identify the location and perform its action accordingly. However, while Marker-based AR is preprogrammed, Markerless AR is not. It relies on patterns in locations in order to perform its action. While Marker-based AR was popular in the beginning stages of AR, Markerless AR is becoming increasingly popular among AR developers and tech companies due to its flexibility.

2. What are some well-known apps/games that use AR and what are some possible applications of AR?

Some well-known AR apps and games include Pokémon Go (placing Pokémon), SnapChat (filters), Google Translate (camera translation), and many more. Some of the major applications of AR include real-time language translation (Google Translate), trying out furniture (digitally) in a house, realistic digital training for technicians and surgeons (a model of a car or a human body, for example), and numerous others. The possibilities for AR are endless, and there are numerous scientists and engineers working on integrating AR into other aspects of modern life as well.

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